Wednesday, July 22, 2015


"Okay- let's do this," said my dentist, smiling at me as he put on his gloves and reached for the drill.

A few years ago, my knuckles would have already been white as I clenched the arm rests and squeezed my eyes shut.

This week?  I was o.k.  I wasn't thrilled, of course, but anxious isn't a word which comes to mind either. Why the change?

I like and trust my dentist.  His positive reinforcement at cleanings has helped me improve my overall dental health. And we've been through things together:  broken teeth, a root canal, a handful of fillings some of which were in awkward spots, and most recently an exam and x-ray because I was terrified I'd broken my jaw. He is kind, funny, and has a way of putting even the biggest dentist-phobe at ease. Most importantly, he does his job well. He's up to date on and uses the latest techniques and technology.  I've never experienced measurable pain during a procedure. He works fast and efficiently to minimize my discomfort. And everything he's done so far has turned out just fine.

So yesterday, as the drill revved up to clear the way for a new crown due to a broken tooth from the aforementioned fall and not-broken jaw, I took a deep breath and assumed everything would turn out just fine.

I white knuckled it through countless dentist appointments for the first 35 years of my life.  I dreaded them and often postponed them.  I put off taking care of dental problems because I was so uncomfortable.  And when I went for a cleaning I often left feeling even worse, having been chastised for the state of my gums or the cavity in my wisdom tooth.  It turns out I just hadn't found the right dentist.

This week's experience reminded me of the equal importance of finding a good endocrinologist.  We don't dread those appointments either.  We like the doctor.  We receive positive reinforcement for the work we do at home to maintain diabetes health.  We've been through stuff together: new schools and nurses, first independent site changes, growth spurts, starting a dexcom, and now the beginnings of puberty.  He is smart, kind, funny and very concerned for my daughter's health and overall well being.  He's given us countless effective suggestions over the years.  My daughter's diabetes management is, with his help, just fine.

I know there are people out there who do not realize what having a good endocrinologist feels like. They dread their appointments.  They falsify data so they don't get yelled at.  They leave feeling hopeless. They receive little or no useful advice from the doctor.  They float through years of diabetes care assuming they're entirely at fault for high A1C's or endless rounds of lows.  They feel like I did about going to the dentist, and they don't know that it could be better.

No, I don't put little stars and smiley faces around the calendar dates of my dental cleanings, nor do I do so for my daughter's endo appointments.  But I don't dread them. I enjoy the people I see there, and I leave feeling improved for having gone.  If that's ever not true, I'll know to go elsewhere.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Baring It All

I'm incredibly proud that my daughter is willing to bare it all at the pool.

Said no mother ever.

Except me.

She's not really baring it all all, of course.  But she decided this spring that she really wanted a bikini.

Many sentences uttered at our house now start with, "All of my friends are...," and I was informed this spring that all of her friends would be wearing only bikinis at the pool this summer.  This was a big step for two reasons:

While some girls wear bikinis from the beginning, my daughter never had, so this was a milestone in terms of growing up.  Despite our concerns about finding bikinis appropriate for a tween/young teen, we found two very cute ones.  Ruffly tops and bottoms with plenty of coverage are out there if you look long enough.

The second concern, of course, was the increased obviousness of the diabetes paraphernalia.  About this, my daughter decided she simply didn't care.  Wearing a bikini trumped any concern about the dexcom sensor taped to her belly and the insulin pump clipped to her bathing suit.

My daughter has so far had more people ask her about the dexcom and  pump at her morning summer music program (where it's generally in her pocket or clipped to her waistband under a t-shirt) than at the pool. Perhaps we'll keep a running tally.  When asked, she has a couple of short answers prepared, and is able to move on without much fanfare.

The only comment I've heard so far was from a mom I know tangentially, a friend of a friend, who came up to me and said, "I just wanted to tell you I'm so impressed with her wearing a bikini and not caring what anyone thinks.  I think that's just great."

At 13, it's an impressive decision to make. As a rule, these are the years of trying to fit in, the years of "all my friends are."  So I'm proud of my daughter for baring it all at the pool.  I'm proud that she's comfortable with what she looks like, taped on contraptions and all.  I'm proud that she's willing to answer the inevitable questions.  I'm proud that she's not going to let diabetes stop her from doing something she wants to do, however relatively trivial this particular decision may be.

I still have mixed feelings about this. Watching my little girl walk past me at the pool in her bikini makes me do a double-take every time.  But it has nothing to do with the dexcom sensor.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Making It Fun

Yesterday was endo day. We had a 4:30 appointment in the city.

Yesterday also happened to be an extra long weekend day off from the music program my daughter attends in the summer. She's usually there from 8-3.

So what could have been a rare lunch and afternoon at the pool with friends looked instead like it would be a boring morning of errands and chores, a boring peanut butter sandwich and maybe some screen time before a long car ride, a doctor's appointment and  another long ride home through rush hour traffic.

Not so fast.  Maybe we could make some lemonade out of those lemons.  A little creative thinking, mapquesting and internet searching led us to a truly fun day at the zoo. There was some challenging driving involved, and a little anxiety about the timing of the whole operation, but we went for it.

We got ourselves up and to the zoo when it opened and spent about five hours wandering around watching penguins, monkeys, bears, and especially this baby gorilla.  Who was adorable.  

We had an awesome time.  We arrived at our appointment plenty early.  The appointment went well too. But dinner conversation revolved around the zoo, with any diabetes-related news taking a definite back seat.

Living with diabetes comes with a long, annoying list of responsibilities. There are days when diabetes usurps possibilities which would be more fun.  Sometimes sitting out an activity with a low blood sugar, or missing an after school activity because of a doctor's appointment is just the way it is.  But sometimes, with some extra effort, it can be an excuse to do something great.  I highly recommend taking advantage of those opportunities.  Especially if there's a baby gorilla at your diabetes clinic's closest zoo.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015


A friend returned from a week visiting family in Germany with these delicious treats as a souvenir for my daughter.

If each piece weighs 16.76 grams and a serving is 100 grams and each 100 grams has 53 grams of kohlenhydrate, then how many grams of kohlenhydrate does one piece have?

These treats appeared in time for lunch at the nurse-free summer music program my daughter attends.  She valiantly tried to figure out how many carbs each one contained but kept coming up with unreasonable sounding answers.  "So I ate one and guessed."

Who could blame her?  It's hard enough sometimes to sort out carbs on an American and english-language nutrition label.  Figuring this one out could significantly cut into a person's chocolate enjoyment.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Freak Accident

We were headed out for a Father's Day fishing expedition.  My husband, daughter and nephews set out first along the short path to the pond. The rest of us straggled behind, finishing coffee and gathering the extra bug spray.  My husband reappeared shortly, with a long gash in his palm.  It was not from a fish hook.

Retracing the chain of events, here's what happened:

When I passed the meter bag down to my daughter from the loft of the cabin, she dropped it.  She quickly picked it up, put it in a ziploc bag with the dexcom and a juice box. With everything waterproofed for drizzle and proximity to the pond, they headed out the door.

On the way to the water, my daughter took her fishing rod from my husband in trade for the diabetes supply bag.  While he was shoving the bag into the large pocket of his windbreaker, he was cut.

As best as we can figure, the lancet cap popped off when the meter case hit the floor.  An increasingly unlikely series of events followed. The tiny sharp tip of the uncapped lancet poked through the thick plastic case the meter is carried in. It then made it through the ziploc bag.  My husband grabbed the bag in the exact spot where the sharp was coming through and sustained his injury.

After some quick first aid, the fishing trip went on. Hooks were baited and fish were caught and released. A good time was had by all.

But consider this a cautionary tale.  Always check through the meter case after it's been dropped.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

What If...

My group of seventy-five jurors was called into a courtroom at 11:15 a.m.  We sat and were given the required lengthy speech about jury service.  The attorneys and defendants were introduced.  We were then handed the jury questionnaire.  By then it was noon.

The judge went through the first two pages of questions one at a time.  People who answered 'yes' to any question were asked to stand and give their names to the judge.  He made a note of each.  A dozen questions later, 40 people had stood up and it was 12:30.

Then he brought every person who had answered 'yes' to any question up to the bench one at a time to talk about their concerns.  It was nearly 2 p.m. when we were sent to lunch.

The second item on the questionnaire had to do with whether there were any medical, financial or personal problems which would prevent you from serving.  With that question came a sentence about the Americans With Disabilities Act under which many accommodations could be provided as needed. Nearly three hours of hungry boredom gave me plenty of time to consider possibilities.

If I had Type 1 diabetes and part of my personal management plan was to eat at approximately the same time every day, I would have needed an accommodation 45 minutes into what was turning into a nearly 3 hour affair.  What would I have done?  Stood up and asked to approach the bench? Tried to eat something without anyone noticing?  Sat there and hoped an emergency didn't develop?

What would happen if a person with diabetes experienced a significant low during testimony and needed a few minutes to regain the power of concentration?  What questions would be raised about someone repeatedly looking at electronic (diabetes) devices throughout the trial?  Would the beeping of devices and glucometers prove to be a distraction?

With a Supreme Court justice who must occasionally need to munch glucose tabs during a hearing, I'm certain diabetes isn't a barrier to jury service.  It's more of a question of when and how a potential juror would disclose the concern.  And of what specific information would need to be shared with the presiding judge.

All I can tell you is that if I were that person who'd been sitting there anxious about when or whether I'd get lunch before my blood sugar crashed, I would have been extra upset when we returned from lunch to learn that the morning's process had been all to find only one more person to fill an almost-complete jury.  Even I, being merely hungry and bored, was somewhat irritated that people were not dismissed more efficiently in this situation.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Jury Duty

I had my first jury duty experience a few weeks ago.

I have been called 4 other times but never served.  I was called once when I was attending college out of state and excused.  I was called for the week of my wedding and excused.   I was called at a time my boss considered me an 'essential employee,' and her letter got me excused.  And I was called when I was a parent to a 3 year old with diabetes and was excused as her primary caregiver.

This time I had to go.  Yes, I'm still a caregiver to a kid with diabetes, but

a. She needs significantly less care-giving than she did at 3 and
b. The amount of documentation I would have needed to submit to prove she needed me had grown exponentially in the past ten years.

But she does still need me, which became the tricky part.

I'm o.k. leaving her home alone for brief periods of time, but only if I'm only a few minutes away, and if we're able to text or call easily.

So on the morning of day 1, we rose extra early so she could eat a counted and bolused-for breakfast and be dropped at a neighbor's (who was very generous to welcome her at 7:30 a.m.).  I drove the 30 minutes to the courthouse.  I was then alternately able to be completely in touch with my phone in hand in the jury holding room, or completely forbidden from cell phone use when taken into a courtroom for jury selection.

Therefore my husband was on call for the two days.  He is able to problem solve basic issues, but I'm usually the go-to diabetes person (as evidenced by my being conferenced in after my recent accident).  So he was anxious about the situation.  Also of concern was that he's an hour plus commute away during the day, so should a true emergency arise, there would be a long time to wait.

I arranged for grandpa to be here the first day when she got home since we had a quick turn-around before the evening's school concert.  The second day she went home with a friend.

The good news is that I did not end up on a jury.  The other good news was that no diabetes issues arose.

I spent a lot of time thinking about how I would possibly serve on a jury.  Or whether I would need to be excused.   Would anyone believe I was challenged by finding child care for my teenager?  Would they understand the need to be accessible during the day?  Would it seem implausible that I field phone calls from my child at school or during after school activities a couple of times every week?

Explaining my life to anyone, let alone an absolute stranger at the courthouse, is always a daunting task.  It's a unique situation of needing to be accessible 'just in case,' and never knowing when that moment might occur.