Nine Years

Nine years ago today, I took my first helicopter ride.  It was a gorgeous morning. The views of the coastline and the experience of flying low over the historic city were surreal. I made myself take it all in, purposely storing mental pictures which stay with me today.

I just wish I hadn't been in a medical helicopter, poised to land on the roof of a hospital where I would subsequently spend Christmas week with my child, enrolled in a crash course on diabetes.  In different circumstances, it would've been so much more fun.  Yet somehow I was able to separate myself from the circumstances to savor a few moments of that incredible journey.

This, in my humble opinion, was the right mindset with which to start our journey with diabetes. Though she's not nearly as ill as she was nine years ago today, I'm still worried about my child's health.  All of the time.  But I don't think about it all of the time.  If I did, I'd miss the better parts of life's journey.


On my way out of Walgreen's I checked the time.  If the nurse was going to call me about a snack-time blood sugar problem it would be soon.  I should be sure to have my phone handy.  And in that instant, I realized the horrible truth.

I forgot to bolus breakfast.

Approximately 40 grams of carbohydrate had been consumed on top of a blood sugar of 160, and no insulin had been given.  I was about to proactively call the school when my phone chimed.  A new voice mail.  Apparently I had no reception inside the store.

"Mrs. Osborne...please give me a call.  Your daughter's blood sugar is...very high."

By the time I called back, the nurse had spoken with my husband.  My daughter had figured out the cause of the problem, and a correction had been given.

However, I now had company throughout my Christmas shopping day.  At the bookstore, I received an update.  "She's still 360."

At the grocery store, I received the news, "She's down to 270."

At the dollar store, I learned she'd dropped below 240.

It was an awkward situation.  An unfortunate mistake turned into a situation a concerned medical professional legitimately took as a serious health concern. 

I certainly felt badly for having let her get to school (and through 2 hours of it) without fixing this problem.  On the other hand, this is real life.  Stuff like this happens.  Most of the time it doesn't, but faced with a week such as the one leading up to Christmas, it becomes difficult to juggle the details.  Unfortunately for my child, and for the peace of mind of our school nurse, my brain dropped this detail instead of forgetting the scotch tape at Walgreen's.


"Cookie" was one of my daughter's first words.  She learned it at Christmas time, right after her first birthday.

She helped shake the colored sugar on a few cookies that year, and liked to keep me company in the kitchen while I baked.  Maybe because she scored a few cookies in the process.

Just weeks after she learned this most important of words, my daughter was diagnosed with diabetes.

I remember cookies being foremost on my mind as the childrens' hospital staff confirmed the diagnosis of diabetes on that December day.  We were facing a new life of finger pricking, injections, and constant vigilance, but a little piece of my worried and tired brain was elsewhere. What about the "cookies?"

Cookies are a huge piece of my family's Christmas tradition.  We usually make at least 6 varieties each year, both for ourselves and to give to family and friends.  I stood in that hospital room wondering if I'd ever get to share that treasured tradition with my only child.

Most of you already know this story has a happy ending.  Cookies, with their carbohydrates well counted, are a perfectly legitimate treat.  In fact, milk and cookies has been my daughter's bedtime snack choice since her days in the hospital, nearly 10 years ago.

By the following Christmas, each of my Christmas cookie recipe cards had the carbohydrate counts noted on them.  This year, I'm finding I even remember most of them without looking.

My daughter has been in the kitchen with me this week, baking and decorating.  Friday, her best friend will come over for a ginger bread cookie decorating marathon, a tradition I shared with my best friend when I was her age.  Each evening she samples one or two of our creations, and enjoys every bite.

With everything that changed with diabetes' arrival on the scene, the cookie tradition is one I'm certainly glad we could hold on to.


We were on our way out the door on Sunday afternoon. 

My husband grabbed my daughter's meter and stopped to double-check it.

Him: " put the vial back in here with no strips in it."

My daughter: "I didn't use the last one!"

A pause.

My daughter again:  "O.K.  I'll go get them."

It's an excuse that can work well in the right circumstances.  It can come in handy if you put away an empty milk carton or leave one tissue in the box.

But if you're the only person in the house with diabetes, there's really no way to make it work for you!

Now We Know

My daughter finally got her flu shot the other day.  "Finally" is definitely my characterization, not hers.  There was no eager anticipation on her part, though she was a good sport about it.

There are still, even after nearly 10 years, many diabetes moments which leave us scratching our heads.  This day reminded me, though, of how much we've learned over the years.  We've lived through the havoc of time changes, both daylight-savings and travel related.  We've handled swimming, hiking and softball.  We know what happens after she eats pizza, ice cream and cake.  While we don't suggest eating them all in one sitting, we even have a somewhat effective game plan to manage blood sugars if she does.

When you think about it, the post flu shot high is actually pretty logical compared to some of diabetes' other tricks.  Her body is fighting off the little bit of flu strain in order to create immunity.  Same idea as the highs we see when she's sick

Each year, our pediatrician mentions, "You know...this could throw her blood sugars off for a while...keep an eye on it."  Each year it impresses me that he thinks of it. 

If only he had warned us about bagels.


Thursday evenings are hectic at our house.  Ballet is at 5:00.  An after school homework rush is followed by the changing into the ballet clothes ordeal.  We return home at 6:30, get dinner on the table and eaten, and then I have to leave the house again at 7:15. 

Last Thursday sounded like this:

"Did you leave it in the car?"

"No...I think I gave it to you."

I went out to the car to look, a task I usually make her do but she was already in her jammies, so I took some pity.

"It's not in the car, and I'm sure you never gave it to me, so where is it?"

"I took it out of my ballet bag and gave it to you at dance."

Looking through my purse in case I'd had a case of temporary amnesia, "Nope...I'm sure you didn't."

Crying, "I don't know where it is!"

The volume was escalating just as my husband walked in the door, at 7:00.  "What's going on?"

To him, "We can't find the ping."  To her, "Could you have taken it out and left it somewhere at ballet?"

"I don't KNOW!"

"O.k. ... just find the back-up meter and test."

The phone call to the ballet studio went surprisingly smoothly.  The receptionist seemed to understand that she was looking for a glucometer in a black case, and was able to find it in the dressing room.  She would be there until 9:00.

I inhaled my dinner and practiced for the Grand Am as I zoomed to the ballet studio.  Thanking the receptionist profusely, I dashed back out to the car and was miraculously only a few minutes late for my next activity, albeit a bit frazzled.

The next morning, my child said, "You seemed really mad, Mommy." 

"Well, I was kind-of mad," I said.  "That meter is really important!  It's the remote control to your pump, and it would be difficult for us to replace.  So it's something we need to be extra careful with, right?"

"I know, mommy...I don't know what happened."

Then I had to remind her she's not the only one who's done it. "It's o.k.  We all make mistakes.  Remember when I left it in that restaurant in the city?  And Daddy had to go back the next day to pick it up?"  She did.  "But you know what?  Since that day, if I've had it in my purse, I never leave somewhere without making sure it's still there.  I bet you'll do the same now."

"I bet I will."


At the grocery store last week, there was a strange announcement over the loudspeaker.  Code something-or-another to aisle 5.  Still squarely in aisle one, focused on gathering my Thanksgiving fruits and vegetables, I figured whatever spill or security problem was occurring would be long gone before I made it that far.

Several minutes later, while I was still perusing the cranberries, an employee walked by and was stopped by the person stocking the apples.  "What happened over there?" she asked.

"There was a young girl...real know?  Sugar? And she collapsed, kind of."

"What did you do?  Did you give her peanut butter?  I think that's supposed to be good."

"Well...her mother was with her and had something in her purse.  We got her a chair."

"Did you call the ambulance?"

"No...I don't know...Steve's still over there with them, but I think she was o.k."

I was taken aback at how little these people knew about diabetes, starting with the word itself. 

With my purse full of juice boxes, smarties, glucose tabs and glucagon, I made my way through the grocery store, on the look-out for this family.  As far as I know, I never encountered them.  Though if they'd picked themselves up and continued with their shopping, the diabetes would once again be invisible and they would have looked just like any of the multitude of Thanksgiving shoppers.