Saturday, March 22, 2014

A Real Vacation

We just spent ten days in Puerto Rico, a real vacation. Since Ben’s diagnosis we have travelled to Florida for the Children with Diabetes conference and to California for a few weddings. (FYI … flying across time zones can really wreak havoc on BGs.)  But this trip felt like our first real vacation. We had nothing to do but enjoy ourselves. And somewhere along the way, I completely stopped worrying about BGs. I stopped obsessing about the line graph on Ben’s CGM and I was unphased by Ben’s nightly BGs floating in the 200s.

Now the vacation didn’t actually start off quite so stress free.

One of the very first things we wanted to do was spend a few days visiting the small island of Culebra, which is an hour ferry ride off the east coast of the main island of Puerto Rico. (I like to describe Culebra as the Nantucket of Puerto Rico.) The ferry departs the main island twice a day, first at 9:00 am and then at 3:00 pm. (That’s it!) We arrived two hours early to purchase our tickets. Unfortunately, that was no way early enough. We were greeted with a long line. One of those lines that wraps around the corner and down a couple blocks, the kind of line that when you get in there is no way to see the start.  This line was filled with locals, Puerto Rican tourists, American tourists, English tourists and Chinese tourists (among others). And most of us were unsure of exactly what was going on because the line never seemed to move. It only got longer. Occasionally, there would be an announcement over a loudspeaker that almost no one understood.  Oh … and it was hot!

While I stood in line, Jeff waited on a bench nearby with the boys and our bags. As I waited in line I chatted with my fellow hopeful ferry passengers. We learned that the early ferry only had room for 200 passengers and there clearly were more than 200 people in line. People started telling stories about how the government had recently cancelled the contract for the company that had run the ferry. Now the local government had taken over and things had gotten confusing. There was a rumor that they were only selling one-way tickets.  We would have to stand in line again to purchase tickets to come back.  And again there are only two ferries returning each day.

That’s when I started to panic!
What if something went wrong with Ben?
It’s happened before.
His insulin could get ruined from the heat
It is baking in the sun right now as I stand in line!
We only brought one bottle with us.
Our backup is in the frig back in San Juan.
What if there was an emergency?
We would be stranded with no ticket to return.
And even if we had a ticket we could be waiting hours for the ferry.
Maybe this was just the worst idea ever!
Maybe I should just give up, find some air conditioning and head back to San Juan?

Then one of the guys from the couple in front of me cut back in line.  He had left to make a call to the local airport.  He was trying to find another way to the island.  Apparently, you can catch a plane to Culebra.  The flight was too expensive for them (and too expensive you our family too).  BUT, there are flights!  If we did have a diabetes emergency we could go straight to the airport (which is really just a small strip of grass where those tiny planes can take off and land).  We might have to max out credit cards to pay for the flight but we could get off the island.

Deep breathe
My big ball of stress started to unravel.

We will be fine.  With that simple plan I stopped panicking.  And that was the end of my diabetes worries.  Like the real end … for the rest of the trip.  Instead, of worrying where the closest emergency room was I started worrying where the closest Pina Colada was!

Eventually, the line started moving and we got tickets on the 3 pm ferry and return tickets for two days later!  We had the most FABULOUS time on Culebra.  Here is a picture we took on the most beautiful beach I have ever seen.  (By the way, I have no idea what Ben’s blood sugar was.)

Saturday, March 1, 2014


When I post my stories
I often receive nice comments like
“You’re such a great mom”
Which sometimes feels like false praise
Because I am not
Not even close

Often I fail
And fail a lot
Like I did last week
Starting on Monday, President’s Day
(Bear with me, this is a long one)

Everyone was home and we had no hockey
We didn’t know what to do with ourselves
So we settled on a movie
Because they are showing at same time,
Boys would watch The Lego Movie
Jeff and I would watch Philomenia
But this would only work
If we made it to the next showing!

As we rushed to get our coats on
Jeff asked Ben, “How much insulin is left in your pump?”
“18 units”
Which sounded like enough
Enough to ALMOST make it through the rest of the day
We were going to the movies
And movies ALWAYS = high blood sugar
High blood sugar = lots of corrections
Lots of corrections = lots of insulin
Lots of insulin = a lot LESS insulin left in pump
Did I stop and think all this?
Not while I was busy figuring out which scarf looked the cutest with my coat


Off we went
With D-bag packed
And my cute gray infinity scarf

After movie
And after correcting Ben’s 325 BG
We had plans to go to a friend’s house for dinner
I had volunteered to bring a nut-free dessert
And I had waited until the last minute to get it


So I drove from bakery to grocery store to farm stand
Finding anything truly nut-free isn’t as easy as I had thought
Finally found some chocolates that shouldn’t send anyone to the hospital
Raced back home just in time
To pack up family and headed out

Had a lovely dinner
While kid’s watched Adventure Time
Enjoyed some adult conversation
Then in walked Ben
“Pump is alarming … Low reservoir”
Thought “Crap”
Instead nonchalantly said, “OK, we will be leaving soon.”
Continued chatting
Lost track of time
Didn’t leave soon


Eventually, Jeff whispered in my ear
“Ben ate your nut-free chocolate
He is high again with no insulin
We need to go”
Felt rude
But could no longer ignore Ben’s diabetes
Abruptly left

When we got home
Piled out of van
Asked Ben, “Where is your d-bag?”
“Oh oh”


As we walked in the house
Jeff pulled out insulin and pump supplies and asked Ben for his pump
I pulled out phone book
Before I could dial the phone rang
“Hello, I think you left Ben’s backpack”
It was late
And I was tired (though I am always tired)
So decided to pick up d-bag the next day


Inside Ben’s d-bag was his BG tester
But we had some old test kits in the cupboards
Dug them out along with old test strips
But it was unclear if the test strips had expired


But … we had CGM
It was still in Ben’s pocket
If the test strip results were close to CGM readings
Decided we would be OK using what we had
And they did
So we changed Ben’s set
Corrected one more time
And headed to bed

Everyone was sleeping
I was sleeping
CGM buzzed
Low battery warning
Dragged myself out of my warm bed
Looked for charger but couldn’t find it
Slowly remembered
Charger was in d-bag!
At our friend’s house!


Now resorted to praying
Praying the CGM battery lasted through the night
Tried to sleep
But CGM kept buzzing
Now Ben was low
Double checked with test strip
But there was only a few left


Gave Ben a juice box
Watched CGM waiting for BG to start rising
Wanted to double check with tester
But needed to conserve the potentially expired strips
Night BG can be very stubborn
And it was
Ended up being a 4 juice box night

Next morning needed to work
So planned to pick up left behind d-bag before lunch
Boys stayed home playing x-box
Before I left reminded boys they were in charge
“Call me if you have any questions.  I will be right back.”
I started off on what was supposed to be my 40 minute round trip
It started to snow
Wasn’t too worried because if was going to be a small storm
At least that is what they said last night


On my way home with d-bag in car
Snow was now very, very heavy
White out conditions
Only know I am still on the road because following tail lights in front of me
Started to panic
My 40 min trip turned into an hour and a half
And I had left my T1 son alone with his brothers
Without proper equipment
And now I can’t get back to him


Cellphone rang
It was Ben,
“Hello Mom, Where are you?”
“Are you ok?”
“I am fine, just nervous because you aren’t here.”
“I am almost there.  I am sooooo sorry.”

And I was sorry
Sorry I had messed up so badly
Over and over again
I started writing this blog in my head
Counting all the times I had failed Ben in the last 24 hours


That was 10 times!  10 chances to make a different decision and potentially avoid the white-knuckle drive through an afternoon blizzard.  10 chances to stop the madness!

See …
I am not the greatest mom
But I keep trying
And maybe what I should be doing right now
Is stop writing this post
And go double check how much insulin is left in Ben’s pump
And double check all our backup supplies
And maybe even take a nap

(Actually … I think I might just start with the nap)