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.
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.
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.
I'll need to stop by the school this week to pick up my daughter's diabetes supplies from the nurse's office.
I'll empty the bin full of test strips, lancets, infusion set supplies, juice boxes, glucose tabs and the glucometer into a large shopping bag. I'll be given the insulin from the fridge.
My daughter isn't allowed to carry this stuff home. Only a parent may pick up medical things from the school.
She is, of course, allowed to carry these items with her in her purse or on her person every day. She brings or wears them to school, has them with her all day and then brings them home.
But somehow these ones in the nurse's office require my special loving transportation.
For reasons we're not privy to, the regular middle school nurse has not been at school lately. Instead, the school has been offering a 'nurse of the day' program for the past 2-3 weeks. Since we're in our 8th year of school nurse use in this district, we're very familiar with the substitute nurse rotation and with the regular nurses on staff throughout town. My daughter has seen most of them as the school year closes down. She was particularly happy to see a couple of faces she hadn't seen since elementary school.
Then the day finally came when the list had been exhausted and a new face appeared. Loosely in my child's own words with animated facial expressions to match, this was the experience:
I walked into the nurse's office and there was a nurse there I'd never met. She was wearing silver leggings- like sparkly, really-, a white shirt with a black cloud on it, and a very bright neon yellow sweater. I went straight to my box of stuff and started to check just like I always do. She didn't say hello but she was just staring at me.
"I have diabetes," I said. "It's my lunch time."
"Oh, so you're monitoring your blood glucose then?"
And um...yes, this phrase is sticking around. Prior to all meals and other checking scenarios, we'll make sure to remind my child to 'monitor her blood glucose.' It's very, very important stuff.
I'm still thinking a bit about Diabetes Blog Week and some of the themes which ran through it. One of them, which was intentionally brought out by the 'keep it to yourself' topic but came out somewhere almost every day, had to do with things we're reluctant to share about our lives with diabetes.
We outed ourselves for things like being angry about diabetes, or being happy about something it's brought into our lives. We were reluctant to share that we do not use every available piece of technology, or that a particular dietary choice is helping our control. We didn't want people to know that we test overnight or that we choose to eat cupcakes or cheeseburgers. People said they were afraid to disclose who they choose to tell they have diabetes, or the language they use to do so.
When I posted what my daughter ate on blog week's Friday I thought twice about it. I imagined all kinds of potential judgments out there. Some would be appalled that my kid eats what many would consider 'old people cereal' every day for breakfast. On the opposite end of the spectrum, people would be alarmed that she was eating cake for dessert, or at least one made from a box mix.
There were days not long ago when reading through blogs, I could legitimately assume we were the only people out there not using a CGM. And that we might be the only people whose kid wasn't attending diabetes camp or Friends For Life. I felt a weird sense of --- if not guilt --- then at least uncomfortable different-ness.
But here's the thing: I'm almost certain I'm not the only person whose kid eats old lady cereal, enjoys birthday cake whenever possible, chooses (adamantly) not to attend diabetes camp, and took several years to decide to try a CGM which she still requests time off from now and then.
And here's the more important thing: all of that is o.k. Really o.k.
And the most important thing? It's also really o.k. if your kid eats fruity pebbles for breakfast, or has never had a bite of cake, or spends the whole summer at diabetes camp or chooses to use multiple daily injections or has never told anybody but the school nurse and his grandmother that he has diabetes, or wears an "I have diabetes" t-shirt to school every day. Whatever works. It's o.k.
As my daughter progresses through the middle school years she's becoming increasingly aware of the range of people there are out there and of the range of decisions they make. I find myself searching for words to help her understand and accept that there are all kinds of people who make all kinds of choices which may or may not be the same choices she'd make in their shoes. I find myself repeating the same sentence, which applies here as well:
And that's o.k.
"People with chronic conditions are able to lead efficient lives when they effectively treat their disease."
This is a loose quote from my daughter's Health class notes.
I was helping her study for her quiz on non-infectious diseases. The notes about the two types of diabetes were accurate, if vague, but this sentence gave me pause.
The Dictionary.com definition of efficient is this:
I suppose most of this is truer than my initial reaction assumed. With the requisite skills and competency, people can manage chronic conditions and live well.
But I still struggle with the 'with the least waste of time and effort' part. I suppose it's not 'wasted' per se, but managing diabetes takes an enormous amount of time and effort. So much so that it decreases our efficiency in many other tasks.
Diabetes decreases my daughter's and often our entire family's efficiency in:
-preparing and eating a meal
-getting out of the house to go anywhere, even a walk around the block
-taking a shower
-getting in and out of the pool
-ordering and eating a restaurant meal
-getting through airport security
-packing for vacation or even a day trip
-any task which is sidelined by a low or high blood sugar
-sleeping through the night
And that list barely grazes the surface. So yes, we're grateful that she has the tools to live well. But sometimes diabetes still slows us down. Efficient still isn't a word I'd ever choose to use to describe life with diabetes.