Monday, February 28, 2011

Lessons Learned During The Great Flood


On the last day of February break, we returned from the grocery store to find a few inches of water in the basement.  The sump pump was not pumping.   It was a mess.
It was also past noon, and decidedly lunch time.  Between the words I hope I was muttering quietly enough not to be heard upstairs, I yelled, “Don’t come down here…you’ll get soaked.  Go check.”  Meanwhile, I unplugged and replugged the pump, located the wet-vac, muttered some more.  “I’m 47,” came the small voice from upstairs.  “Find a juice box and drink it,” I yelled. “That’s what I’m doing, Mom.”  I started lifting things out of the water, or from low shelves to higher ground.  I went to the foot of the stairs.  “You alright?”  “Yeah…I’m making a pb&j, ok?”  “Yup…check again before you eat, right?”  “I know.”  I started vacuuming  water.  I jiggled the pump.  “How’s it going up there?”  “I’m 72.  I can eat, right?  I’m going to have an apple with it.”  “Yup…bolus for the sandwich and, like maybe half the apple.”  “That’s what I thought…40, right?”  “Yup.”
The afternoon proceeded with periodic yelling up and down the stairs, “you ok?”  “Yup…I’m reading.”  “I can’t wait to show you how I set up the dolls in my room.” 
“Guess what?  I just kicked the sump pump pipe so hard it kicked on!”  “That’s good, mommy.  Should I have a snack?” “Holy cow…it’s 3:00 already?  Yes.”  “I’m 140, bolusing  8 for 4 crackers.”  “Great.” 
Many lessons were learned Friday afternoon.  Some of them were diabetes-related.
My 9 year-old is capable of handling her diabetes with a greater level of independence than I give her credit for.   We’ve tried to give her increasing responsibilities as she’s grown up.  When she was 2, she was in charge of gathering the supplies for a bg check.  When she was 3, she read us the number.   She progressed to checking on her own by kindergarten, and now can program her bolus.  She can add her carbs if the food is well-labeled.   That’s where I thought it ended.  Apparently, she’s capable of independently treating and re-checking a low, adjusting a bolus because of a low mealtime bg, and keeping track of when she needs a snack. 
We’ve always been careful not to give our child diabetes responsibilities beyond what she can handle.  If she has a lunchtime low today at school, the nurse will still be there to make sure everything is done right to keep her safe.  When 3:00 rolls around this afternoon, I’ll say, ”How about a snack?”  But it does give me some peace of mind to know that should another emergency arise, where I am even less available than I was in the basement, she’ll be able to figure out what to do.
Meanwhile, the plumber should be here any minute.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Can I Hold That For You?

My daughter had a softball “workout” a couple of weeks ago.  All of the girls playing this spring were summoned to demonstrate their skills at batting, catching pop-ups, and fielding  grounders.  Groups of 5 at a time entered the gym to be evaluated by at least that many adults.  Based on their skills, the girls were sorted into evenly-matched  teams. 
Fielding grounders is my daughter’s best skill.  She can hit when she gets in a groove, but given the amount of snow on the ground, she hasn’t swung a bat since October sometime.  And she’ll readily admit that she can’t catch a pop-up beach ball, let alone softball.  So she was excited to demonstrate her infield skills. 
I was not allowed in the room, but as she tells the story, here’s what happened:
Someone bounced a grounder to her.  She was ready, leaned down, and got it.  Then her pump fell out of her pocket.  She threw to first, grabbed the pump and stuffed it deeper in the pocket of her sweats.  From behind her, comes the coach’s voice.  “Can I hold that for you?” 
Diabetes has been part of my daughter’s life since she was 13 months old.  And it’s always been interesting to watch how she responds to people responding to it.  She tends to be very matter-of-fact about the whole thing, and is developing an increasing vocabulary to answer questions and to respond to potentially awkward situations.
“Um…well…actually, it’s attached to me.  So I don’t think that would work too well, but thank you.”
I couldn’t have said it better.  
Of course, on the way home, we became hysterical envisioning her fielding grounders while the coach tried to hold the pump. 

Tetherball, anyone?

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Diagnosis

A few weeks after her first birthday, my daughter was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes.  For a week or so, she was whiny, hungry, thirsty, and went through about a case of diapers.  Then, on Saturday night, she was inconsolable.  We couldn’t put her down.  She was lethargic.  Then a bit before dawn, she started throwing up.  Yes.  It was obviously Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA).  Obvious in retrospect.  We packed her in the car and sped along country roads to our local hospital.  The sunrise was, ironically, one of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen.
The next couple of hours are blurry, but images remain vivid:  the 45-minute attempt to get an i.v. line into her tiny dehydrated arm, the drawing of lots of blood, the spinal tap (they thought she might have meningitis), the hoards of people coming in and out, trying to stabilize and diagnose her, the tiny child on the giant gurney.  We held her hand, kissed her head, and prayed.  The ER doctor told us her blood sugar was high.  It was not, however, until they loaded her into the helicopter to take her to the children’s hospital, that an insulin drip was started and the paramedic first uttered the word “diabetes.” 
By the time we were at the Children’s Hospital, they were very clear with us.  Diabetes.  And we would be there for a few days.  Our daughter was quite sick.  It was a long night in the ICU.  We took turns lying on cots in a “parent sleeping room.”  I spent from 2 a.m. until morning next to my daughter IN a hospital crib.  I’d still be there if it wasn’t for the help of the nurse who extracted me the next morning.  It wasn’t until morning, when she was awake, drinking milk, and crying like a lunatic that the doctors told us how very ill she had been and how uncertain they were about how she would get through the night.
So it was with that perspective that we proceeded to learn how to give injections, test blood sugar, check ketones, and count carbs.  It was difficult mentally and emotionally.  None of our lives would ever be the same.  But we were grateful for life.  My daughter’s second Christmas, when we sat in the cafeteria of the children’s hospital eating prime rib off of Styrofoam plates, remains one of my favorite Christmases ever.  Despite all that we had lost in the preceding days, we had each other, we had the power of modern medicine, and we had hope.