Thursday, April 30, 2015

Flying High with Diabetes

Airport security can be a tense situation for any unseasoned traveler.  Negotiating it with an anxious adolescent who is wearing unusual devices glued to his arms heightens the experience.  In Cincinnati, it was painless.  Wearing an Omnipod pump on one arm and the Dexcom G4 Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM) on the other, both were visible and accessible to the TSA employees.  I held out the Dexcom receiver, declared it a medical device that could not withstand xrays, and we breezed through.  

Once through, one employee approached us and began asking more questions. We tensed at first."Do you like it?" she asked my son.  "Does it help?" Her roommate has diabetes, and being Type 2, has had difficulty in obtaining the technology.  "Cool," she said, smiling.

On the return trip, his blood glucose could tell the story.  On entering Denver's airport, he read a 119 flat but the long lines and palpable stress soon had him in the 140s going up.  Again, I explained his diagnosis and that the receiver should be hand checked.  The older TSA guy gestured to a uniform up ahead.  Turning to another employee, he said within my hearing, "What?? Am I a doctor?" Real comedian, that one.  ("Excuse me," I said inside my head, "I mistook you for someone with compassion.")  I moved forward.  

The receiver was carried through with frowns, but without question.  After the body scan, the TSA agent explained that he was going to pat down the pod that was now on my son's leg and under his jeans.  I nodded assent, thankful they were only doing that.  (I had just heard of two Denver TSA agents fired for inappropriate gropes on male travelers.) William's hands were swabbed for explosives, but this TSA agent was more friendly and told my son to relax, all was well.  

We had packed Nightscout for the trip but since he was by my side, did not hook it up.  The unusual connection of a device to a cell phone with cables can look a bit MacGyver-ish to those not familiar with it.  The ride out and back encountered some turbulence, but like security, was nothing we couldn't handle.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Ha, Ha, Ha, Very Funny

Just about every evening, right after dinner, William is very energetic and begs his dad to go "shoot some hoops" out in the driveway.  As young adolescents often do, the seemingly low intensity activity can morph into more competitive "someday, I'll be able to kick your butt" play.  He can't yet, but we all know it's coming.  Each day he looks like a different boy, he is growing so much.

It's not the best choice, I tell them.  Right after dinner, William has a boatload of insulin on board. Exercise right away will increase insulin sensitivity.  His blood sugar was near normal.  I advise him, but I get an oft used refrain, "Trust me, mom".  I'm again told they are just going to stand and shoot baskets.

Halfway into my cup of coffee, he comes back inside, checks, BG 64.  The continuous glucose monitor (CGM) says he is headed straight down.  I swallow "I told you so" with my next sip of coffee.  He downs a half a cup of juice with relish and heads into his computer, surprising me with voluntarily finishing up some homework.

After finishing my coffee, I go to the office to get a book, and freeze.  Ice picks of adrenaline stab me in the chest!  William seems slumped in his chair, head to the side, no movement.  Did he pass out?  WILLIAM, I say loudly.  He looks up.  All is well, but my heart pounds and I'm about to pass out myself.

With two computer monitors, he was looking at an image of text rotated 90 degrees on the right hand monitor, so he had tilted his head and was trying to read it.  That's when I walked in.  He laughed and laughed when I told him that he'd just about given me a heart attack.  "You need to put that one on Facebook."  Laughs some more.  Ha, ha, very funny. I wonder if they sell my hair dye in multi-packs?

Saturday, April 18, 2015

The Devil Made Me Do It

I left my son at home to represent my daughter at a meeting about an art competition.  She was out of town.  I normally won't even look at donuts while in the presence of my son.  It's not that, as a Type 1 Diabetic, he can't eat them.  He can - with a good amount of insulin for dessert.  It's just not the best choice for him.  He's into quantity more than quality these days.  But there it was in front of me - free donuts and hot coffee. And - no one was watching.

My mother saw this photo on Facebook and asked, "Is that a donut?" and I cheekily responded that it was a low carb protein bar.  One day, with my genetics, I'll have to just do coffee. But for now, I will occasionally "cheat".  Overall, I eat lower carb meals.  But boy, was that donut good! It will have to last me for a long while.

I congratulated myself that I had only one.  The lady beside me of similar age had a donut and what looked like some kind of long flattened donut covered in sugar.  I sat smugly. See, I made a wise choice (cough).

It was interesting being in the downtown office building, me in my jeans, walking past women in their power suits, coffee in one hand, leather-bound notepads in the crook of their arms.  I could have been like them, I told myself.  It's funny how after twenty four years as a stay-at-home mom, that occasionally have a twinge to my self-esteem. I could feel the power attitude in the hall.  They were important.  Then I shook my head.  So am I.  I am a pancreas today.  And I headed home to my job.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015


Sometimes I hear someone say something I want to save, and so I will on this post which I will update periodically.

William told me in the car that he had a "cow's foot".  What did he mean?  Well, his foot hurt after two hours of basketball and gym time.  Likely, from shoes slightly too big for him but way cool shoes.  But, a cow's foot?  Turns out, he meant that he had cramps in his toes, like a Charley horse.  (And who is Charley?)
From "All Joy and No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenthood" by Jennifer Senior:
"The researchers found that the more time fathers spent in leisure activities while they were at home, the greater their drop in cortisol [stress hormone] at the end of the day, which came as no surprise; what did come as a surprise was that this effect wasn't nearly as pronounced in mothers. So what, you might ask, _did_have a pronounced effect in mothers? Simple: Seeing their husbands do work around the house."

This confirms my long held belief that there is nothing sexier than a man doing dishes.

Dr. Who Saved His Life

It aggravated us to no end, but Dr. Who saved his life or at least his quality of life.  His refusal to use his own private bathroom was somehow linked to a Dr. Who episode he had watched. Not a fan myself, I'm unsure why the ventilation duct in the ceiling had become a horror, but he insisted on using our bathroom off of the master bedroom.  Either an alien creature or a portal to a distant world resided in his.

Not knowing anything was amiss, we groggily issued commands from the bed, "Use your own bathroom!" But then we began to notice that he was using our bathroom in the middle of the night, and with increasing frequency.  My husband asked me if I'd noticed.  The thought hadn't really coalesced until dh said something.  Likely UTI, I thought.  I promised to schedule an appointment with the pediatrician soon, but I was off to celebrate my birthday that day with my dad an hour away.

Away from daily routines, I noticed that day the trips to the bathroom, the number of drink refills, the repeated "I'm still thirsty".  And, I knew.  I knew and pushed in way down inside me.  Since, in reading many stories of diagnosis, most parents remember in blinding detail and emotion, the date, the hour, what they did that day, many were on vacation or away from home.  Perhaps just being away from routine focused us on what was happening. Sometimes, parents and doctors dismiss symptoms which mimic the flu, strep throat, or other illnesses.  A missed diagnosis can be catastrophic, deadly.  The truth lurks, like the fear in the bathroom ceiling, but closing the door and refusing to go in the room won't make it go away.  


This photo will always entitled "Before".  Before needles, before insulin, before counting every bite he eats, before worrying while he runs around like a normal kid, before watching him sleep and looking for the rise and fall of his chest, before wondering if I just made a mistake that will kill him.  We had stopped the day "before" at a state park, Big Bone Lick, and there he visited the bathroom and declared again his thirst.  Yet, that day, that day we were blissfully ignorant of what was to come.

We were lucky.  Because of Dr. Who, we caught it fairly early.  Not everyone is so lucky.  Please, if your child is sick, as a precaution, just take their blood glucose level or ask a doctor to.  The meters and strips can be purchased at any retail store.  And yes, it is overkill.  And worth it.   

Here are the other symptoms besides a confirmed high BG level:
  • Extreme thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Drowsiness and lethargy
  • Sugar in urine
  • Sudden vision changes
  • Increased appetite
  • Fruity, sweet, or wine-like odor on breath
  • Heavy, labored breathing
  • Stupor or unconsciousness
We are all afraid to confront the monster in the ceiling but it is only in knowing that it can be tamed. We are not so afraid anymore, but life has changed.  As I heard Scott Benner say, "It won't get any easier; you'll just get better at handling it."  Someday, maybe someday, it can be cured. (And yes, now he has conquered some of his fears and uses his own bathroom.)

shown with another Dr. Who fan

Thursday, April 09, 2015

What is the cure for this?

"So, why aren't toe nails on the bottom of our feet to protect them?" my son asks in the car, the vehicle of all serious and not so serious conversations.  He must think my name is Siri and frankly, I don't know what I did without the woman in years past.  I hand him the iPhone and tell him to Google "why do humans have toe nails?" because he didn't accept my answer that they were to protect our toes.  His search reveals that toe nails might be a leftover evolutionary feature that, like the appendix, has lost usefulness.  Obviously, Siri doesn't paint hers, for my next answer was that they are decorative.

Aside from being expected to name all the constellations and know the names of all birds at the bird feeder, I try to picture my mom when I was a child, playing basketball with me.  [pause]  Nope, doesn't come to me.  My mom did not play basketball.  My son, grant you he is the only one left at home, thinks this old woman, his mother, should play basketball with him.  We live in a fairly rural area, no kids outside, and I'm evidently his playmate.  If I don't, well, there is always the computer and he knows that seeing him in front of it makes me simultaneously angry and guilty.

These roles I'm expected to play these days, it is interesting because I come from a different universe.  For example, when you were being raised, if asked to describe herself or what she "did", what did your mom say?  Mine would have said "housewife".  She was an excellent mom, don't misunderstand, but roles were a bit different.  A housewife ran the house, and children didn't have the same roles that I see today.  A woman or man staying home today to raise children are called stay-at-home moms or dads, not housewives or househusbands.  I'd never thought of it before until I heard a podcast on Fresh Air with the author of All Joy and No Fun, Jennifer Senior.  She writes about the interesting things that are happening in our culture as it relates to "the paradox of modern parenthood".

Our children, they are the focus these days.  It has become even more vivid for me now that I became William's pancreas and at-home endocrinologist after his Type 1 Diabetes diagnosis in 2013.   I read a lot, searching Siri and books for answers.  Unfortunately for those with Type 1, Siri doesn't have an answer.


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