Saturday, August 31, 2013

Newbie vs. Veteran

Newbie vs. Veteran

When I graduated nursing school at the ripe old age of 22, I was the young “newbie” of the group.  I had a good education, great mentors, and worked with a cool group of ladies, so I caught on fast.  Yet, I was always still in awe of those nurses who were “old” veterans.  More than once, I remember thinking “I can’t even imagine having been a nurse for 15…20…30 years.”  (I also remember thinking one nurse who had five children was insane, but that’s another blog entirely!) It sounded so far off to me.  I still had so much to learn, so much to experience, and so much growing to do. (Go Horned Frogs!)

16 years later (don’t do the math there; that’s not nice!), I’m no longer the young one… no longer the newbie.  I’m the “old” veteran now.  Been there, seen that, have the battle wounds (and stories) to prove it.  I’m the one they come to with questions, to get that hard stick, to hear the war stories. However, I'm not naive enough to believe I know it all.  There's still more to see, experience and learn. The newbies probably look at me and can’t imagine themselves “so old”.  They’ve got so much to learn, so much to experience, and so much growing to do.

I’ve been at the Diabetes game for 18 months now.  Part of my coping is to educate myself and read about others who are in my shoes (or worse shoes).  I read two blogs regularly: Death of a Pancreas by the incredibly witty and clever Joanne ( and Our Diabetic Life by Meri (  

When I really want to feel sorry for myself for having two sons with Type One Diabetes, I remind myself of Meri who has three…and a recently deceased young husband.  I only have to serve as two pancreases and my husband is alive, kickin’ and sexy! Diabetes sucks and life's not fair, but I digress!

Recently while reading Meri’s blog, I read her post, “15”. (
Meri did a beautiful job showing how her oldest diabetic son (who was diagnosed in infancy) has grown and thrived 15 years with Diabetes.   He has refused to let Diabetes define him or bring him down. FIFTEEN YEARS.  Fifteen.  Fifteen years she’s dealt with this craptastic disease, had two more added to her plate, then lost her husband.  Fifteen.

As I did in nursing school, I stand in awe at this “old veteran”.  Fifteen.  We’re barely 15 MONTHS into this crap, and I can’t imagine fifteen YEARS.  It makes me realize how much I have NOT experienced.  I still have so much to learn, so much to experience, and so much growing to do.  Fortunately, like my early mentors, there is a great D-parent community out there to help me be a successful pancreas until my boys can do it on their own (or until a cure is found).  There is tons of research and information to help me make the best pancreatic decisions. And, like Meri, I hope I am instilling in my sons that Diabetes is part of them but does not define them.  They are beautiful, witty, smart, and funny.  They behave at school and make straight A’s.  I refuse to let Diabetes interfere with them having a childhood or allow it to bring them down.  Like Meri’s boys, they are thriving. Also, I'm sure, despite her veteran status, Meri knows there's still so much to learn and experience, but I know she has great war stories!

As I couldn’t imagine touting my fifteen years of experience when I was a mere 22, I now can’t imagine saying my family has been dealing with Diabetes for 15 years.  20 years.  Or, as in the case of my father-in-law….50 years.  It’s a ridiculous thought to me. And, hopefully, a cure is on the horizon and I will be able to say, “They were diagnosed 15 years ago, but they are cured now.”  In the meantime, I’ll embrace my “newbie” status again (at least I’m young at something), and learn, experience and grow.


Thursday, August 22, 2013

Off Switch

August 22, 2013

Off Switch

I’ve noticed that those who are completely physically exhausted or below average intelligence can fall asleep as soon as their head hits the pillow.  They don’t have the energy or gumption to think too much about sleep. I really think I’m one of those (I’ll let you decide which one), but apparently I’m not.  I’m one of those who lies there for awhile going over today, thinking about tomorrow, thinking about the past, and optimally needing quiet in order to catch those elusive Zzzs.  When I wake in the middle of the night, sometimes I’m stuck awake.  This is how the other night went, and this is typical.

Asleep around 1130. Awakened by full bladder at 0345.

I don’t want to get up, but I can’t ignore it.  Better go now.  I don’t wanna move.  Get up, fatty, and go pee and check on the boys.

I use the restroom and then check on the boys.  Sugars are good.  I crawl back in bed hoping to find sweet slumber right away.  Not so much.  Someone switched the brain ON.

Oh, great blog idea.  Newbie vs. veteran.  Oh, I could say this.  Oh, I could say that.  I’m afraid to fall asleep and forget these genius ideas.  Let me keep repeating them to commit them to memory.  Wait, that’s really clever!  Say that!

What’s that noise that I can hear through my ear plugs?  Oh, just Jerry mildly snoring again.  I’ll jerk the pillow to readjust his head and airway.   Jerk.  Resumption of quiet.

STOP THINKING!  Time to count sheep.  1, 2, 3….10, 11…Wait, why is that sheep pink?

I wonder if their sugars will be ok until breakfast.  Maybe I should set the alarm to check them again.

I need to stop by the store today.  I’m running low on my sodas. Speaking of, maybe I should go to Wal-Mart and get a new plastic storage drawer for the Diabetes stuff.  That other one is broken.  Wait, maybe I should just rearrange it all, conserve some space.  Yeah, that’s a good idea.  I’ll do that. 

Crap, he’s snoring again.  Head readjusted.

Now, my mind HAS to shut up so I can fall back asleep.  The alarm is going off in 2 hours. 

Count backwards from 100 so you’re mind has only one thing to focus on.  100, 99, 98….67, 66.  OH, I wonder if Richie Sambora will be back with Bon Jovi in the fall.  I wonder if he’s tweeted about it.  I really wish they’d resolve their issues because I miss Richie.  CRAP…I was counting!  Where did I leave off.  Of course….70, 69, 68….3, 2, 1.  Well, that didn’t work.

I wonder what will happen on the next Breaking Bad.  I can’t wait.  Tread Lightly….

The closer it gets to alarm time, the harder it is to fall asleep. 

GO TO SLEEP!  Try the sheep again.  1, 2, 3…..18, 19,20…wait, WHY are the sheep jumping the fence when there’s a gate right there?  That’s just dumb.

What else can I do to raise funds for our team?  Am I bothering people with my ideas?  Oh, I can do this.  I need to buy this for the party. Oh, that would be cool, too!

Snoring again?  I wonder if he’d notice if I put my fingers in his nostrils.  Must be nice to be asleep.

What should I do to entertain the boys today?  Museum?  Park?  What do I need to pack for that?  I really should clean out their closets, but I think we’ll hit the park for a little bit. Hey, remember that time I spun the kids so fast on the merry-go-round that I made that kid puke?!  That was sad but funny, too!

Maybe I can squeeze a nap in, because if I don’t, I’ll be worthless to my husband and family by 7pm.’s been almost 2 hours.  I wonder what their sugars are now.  Speaking of, I need to remember to tell the school nurse This….I really hope she’ll listen to me about pre-dosing their insulin before lunch.  I hope I don’t have to spend all week up there coaching her just to keep my boys alive!  I need her to do it right because once school starts, that’s 1/3 of their day, which is 1/3 of their A1C…and if the A1C is squirrely..they look at ME!  I freakin’ hate group work!

STOP IT.  Count again.

I start drifting off.  We are 1hr and 15 mins before the alarm goes off. 

Snap awake.  Holy, cow!  I was drifting off.  Cool.  Let’s try again.

This repeats twice more before I fall completely asleep.

The alarm rudely goes off one hour later. 

I don’t want to get up.  I need to pee.  What are their sugars?  Are they ok?

I get up, blood-shot eyes, and face the day.  I decide over the course of the day that perhaps I should place a notepad by the bed.  Then, when I wake up with a rare stroke of genius, I can jot down the ideas, and hopefully, relax my mind. 

Or, maybe when a cure for diabetes is found, my brain will develop an OFF switch!


Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Stick Shift

Stick Shift


When I got my Drivers’ Learning Permit at age 15, my dad taught me to drive a “stick shift”, a manual transmission.  Several hard stops, stalled engines, and bouts of whiplash later, I got the hang of it. That’s how I learned.  Learn the hard way first, then the “easy” way is so much easier and more comfortable! However, driving an automatic is so much easier, and it’s what I prefer.  Despite learning to shift a manual transmission, I chose an automatic car.  The one brief time I had an “stick shift” car, I HATED it, and quickly reverted back to an automatic. But, being able to drive a manual transmission vehicle is a skill I cherish and one that has served me well in this life.  Frankly, driving a stick shift is practically impossible with kids is tow as I typically have one hand on the wheel, and the other hand adjusting the radio, handling trash, air-drumming to Bon Jovi, or refereeing a fight, but I digress.  I will always choose an automatic transmission.

When my boys were born, their pancreases were automatic.  Carbohydrates in, insulin out.  Much like driving that automatic transmission vehicle, there was little thought involved in the process.  We aimed to put healthy stuff in, good insulin out. Their “engines” adjusted to all extrinsic factors that impact processing carbohydrates.  Activity, diet, age, growth, heat, etc.  At age 7, however, their automatic “transmissions” broke, and we had to revert to manual.  My dad may have taught me to operate a manual transmission, but nobody taught me how to be a manual pancreas.  And, much like learning to drive that stick shift, there have been some bumps, hard stops, and bouts of whiplash in learning to be a manual pancreas…times two.  The best mechanic can’t overhaul these transmissions!

Now I press the clutch (calculate insulin), and the amount I have to press varies over the course of the day and increases over time.  It’s up to me to figure out how much and when an adjustment is needed. Then, I add the gas (carbohydrates, protein & fat).  Too much makes their engine rev to a dangerous level (hyperglycemia), and too little makes them stall out (hypoglycemia).  When the combo of gas and clutch is just right, we can switch gears and move about our day!  As with any engine, other factors can impact how that car drives.  Heat, type of gas (type and quality of diet), mileage (age of the child and length of disease), changing the oil (new pumps, new sites, new insulin vials), heavy usage (exercise), and low fluids (dehydration).  Despite having the right gas and clutch combo, any of these can cause the engine to rev or stall.  My job is to figure out which one is the culprit. 

I’ve just completed two “first years” of diabetes.  Being a nurse, I had a basic foundational knowledge of Type One Diabetes, but that was it.  Being a healthcare provider did not prepare me for the daily ins and outs of being a pancreas to two little growing active boys.  It didn’t prepare me for the crippling worry that accompanies this disease.  It didn’t prepare me for the sleep deprivation, which is Diabetes’ parental torture tactic.  Nursing school didn’t prepare me for the ignorant remarks that well-meaning others say.  Being a nurse didn’t prevent my mommy heart from breaking in two when I heard the words, “He has Diabetes”….twice

And, it didn’t prepare me to forever be on the stick shift.

Now, I am stuck on this “stick shift”.  I stick.  I stick fingers.  I stick toes.  I stick tummies, arms, and legs.  I stick pumps on.  I stick in the morning, afternoon, evening, and middle of the night.  I stick in daylight and dark. I stick awake and half-asleep.  I stick.  And, until a cure is found, I’ll be stuck on the stick shift, manually shifting their transmissions, waiting, hoping, and praying that someday, they can go back to automatic!  I’ve learned and semi-mastered the hard manual way; can we go back to the easy automatic way now?  Please?

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Friday, August 2, 2013

Second First Diaversary, August 3

Second First Diaversary, August 3

In February of 2012, my youngest twin son, Aiden, was diagnosed with Type One Diabetes.  Besides stabilizing and caring for him, our next immediate concern was for his identical twin brother, Asa.  If they’re genetically the same person, isn’t he prone to develop this disease?  We were given some low statistics for Asa to also develop T1D. Upon further research, I learned he had a 10% chance of developing T1D within the first year of Aiden’s diagnosis and a 50% chance of developing it over the course of his lifetime.  We crossed our fingers.

(See Aiden's First Diaversary Blog :

From the time Aiden was diagnosed, we periodically checked his brothers’ blood sugars at random times. Asa ALWAYS resisted, moaned, groaned, whined.  He definitely was not the "tough" twin, way more tender! We’d tease him sometimes and pretend we thought he was Aiden when it was shot time!  He quickly confirmed his identity!  “I’m not Aiden, I’m Asa!  I don’t have Diabetes!”

So, on Friday August 3, 2012, I found it quite odd that Asa willingly wanted to check his sugar when we were checking Aiden for a suspected “low”.  He’d NEVER voluntarily held his hand out to be checked before.

After being knocked to my knees after Aiden’s diagnosis, I felt like my damaged heart was mending and my wobbly legs were ready to stand up again.  When his blood sugar read 200+ two hours after his lunch, I felt like the rug was pulled out from under me again!  That wound in my heart was reopened, and I was back on my knees again!

Since it was a Friday, we followed him over the weekend.  Besides the morning glucose level, every reading was over 200.  To that point, Asa had failed to show any other symptoms like Aiden had.  However, his weight was down slightly.  I mourned all weekend long, and got him to the doctor on Monday afternoon.  Hospitalized Monday night.  Home Tuesday night to adjust to another new normal.  Double the work, quadruple the worry.  So much for that 10% chance!  We caught him incredibly early.  If not for that random check, he could have been so much sicker!

Since Asa had watched Aiden for the previous 5 months, he took it all in stride.  He knew what to expect, and knew those shots weren’t too bad (could be better, could be worse).  Through this second first year, I’ve learned so much more, and have a few funny mishaps that can only be had if one is dealing with identical people with the same chronic disease. He has someone who understands him on every level, and they tackle everything together now, including Diabetes!

Asa has gained strength and resolve in this past year.  He’s progressed from being terribly tearful and frightened of his quarterly venipunctures to volunteering to go first (but Mommy still has to hold him and count it out until it’s over).  He’s learning as much as possible about his disease and how to manage it.  He worries more about Aiden, I think, than he does himself.  And, he’s still continues to grow and thrive as a little boy.  He’s a straight-A student, good school behavior, good reader, good at video games, fights with his brothers , loves his dogs, and has one of the silliest senses of humor in this house!  

(They call me…the Pizza Cutter)!

I am so glad medical research has advanced so that there are reasonable treatments for this craptastic disease, and with more research and support, hopefully a cure will come in my boys’ lifetimes!  Because… I don’t know how I could have survived losing not one, but TWO babies to this stupid disease, and I don’t know how I could live without Asa’s silly little heart!  And, I don't want to live to see the day this disease takes either one of them, even if I'm 90!

So, today, we’re going to celebrate.  We’re going to celebrate that Asa has not been re-hospitalized with complications. We’re going to celebrate that he has been so big and brave in accepting his diagnosis. We’re going to celebrate how much we’ve learned.  We’re going to celebrate that it’s not worse (although it could be so much better).  We’re going to celebrate that we live in a day and time where treatment is available and a cure is on the horizon. And, through the tears, we’re going to celebrate that my baby is still alive to live a full life! 

I think we’ll celebrate with some ice cream!

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