Sunday, June 21, 2015

Best Year Ever

It’s the last week of school and I am picking Ben up.  After not so patiently waiting for him (I hate the pick-up circle) I spot him running across the courtyard with his garbage bag stuffed with dirty gym clothes he finally cleaned out of his sports locker (seriously gross.)  He pops open the back of the van, throws in his backpack and dirty laundry then yells to me, "I still need to go to the nurse's office to get my stuff."

As he runs off again, I slowly move the van up to the front of the pick-up line and continue my game of Candy Crush.   Before I can finish my next level, Ben is in the back seat.  He throws me the sheet of paper with his daily BG log and says, "Let's go."

I put the van in drive and before I can say anything annoying about his BG log, Ben announces, "Mom, this was my best school year ever!"

This surprises me a bit because this past year was Ben's first year in the middle school and it wasn't a year without its challenges.  I ask, "Really?  Why do you say that?"  Then I tease, "It's certainly not because you did so well in Math."

He laughs and says, "No.  It's not because of that … my grades.  It's because this is the first year everyone stopped asking me questions.  No one asks me about my pump or why I have to go to the nurse.  This year I just was ... I just was one of them."

I’m a little stunned.  I wasn’t expecting that.

Jeff and I fought so hard this year.  We fought the school for more independence for Ben.  We fought our own fears, allowing him to go on more sleepovers, letting him walk to the center of town after school to have pizza, and all the while managing his diabetes on his own.   And it was tough (so tough I couldn't even blog about it.)  Jeff and I butted heads at times, because it was scary, like very, very, very scary, but maybe it was all worth it.

My heart swells, "That makes me so happy."

I am watching him in the rearview mirror.  He is looking out the window smiling at his friends who are horsing around still waiting to be picked up and he says, “That makes me happy too.”

Sunday, February 22, 2015


Buzz … Buzz … Buzz.

I open my eyes but I see nothing.  It’s dark.

Buzz … Buzz … Buzz.

I slowly wake up, realizing Ben’s CGM is vibrating on the night stand beside me.  I reach over carefully slapping around trying to find the buzzing CGM without, at the same time, crushing my eye glasses I stupidly placed right next to it.  Eventually my hand feels the familiar leather case.

Buzz … Buzz … Buzz.

Will Ben be high or will he be low?  My foggy midnight brain is unable to guess.  I flip open the case and push the button.  The bedroom lights up from the glow of the CGM screen.  I squint to diffuse the too bright light and see … 275.  I guess he is high tonight.  I check the time, trying to decide if it’s worth getting up and leaving my very warm bed.  It’s only 1 am, 6 hours until we start our morning business, too long to let this high go unattended. I throw back my ever-so-warm covers and feel a rush of cold winter air.  I shuffle to the bathroom where I assemble Ben’s test kit and then shuffle down the hall to Ben’s room.

I flick on his bedroom light.  Ben doesn’t move.  He is used to these middle of the night intrusions.  I wait a second and let my eyes adjust.  I don’t see Ben.  I never do.  He sleeps in a ball completely covered by his blankets.  I sit down on the edge of his bed slowly pulling back the covers searching for a limb, an arm, a hand.  I find his elbow and try to pull his arm out from under the covers without twisting it into horrible hurtful positions.  I finally find his hand and place it in mine.  It feels so big, so strong … Wait! What?  Ben’s hand is almost the size of mine.  That can’t be.  He is my baby.  Maybe I have the wrong child.  Maybe someone else is under that pile of covers.  But then I see the tell-tale signs, this hand, these fingers have been pricked before.  I see on the sides of his fingers the calluses that have developed over the years, 6 years of blood checks.  And I know its Ben.

6 years ago when Ben was first diagnosed he had just started 1st grade.  He really was my baby, so sweet and fun loving.  He was still wearing his Harry Potter costume to the movies and his Obi Wan Kenobi costume (his Ben namesake) to the super market.  And I was scared.  I was scared for my baby to be out of my sight.  I picked him up every day after school because I was too scared to let him take the 30 min school bus ride home.

But it’s been 6 years and Ben isn’t my baby.  He is in 6th grade, in the middle school, writing papers and taking math exams.  Just this weekend he went to movie night at the all-girls school down the road, he went out for pizza after and spent the night at a friend’s house, all without me (or his dad) hovering and nagging.  He managed his diabetes on his own.  I was still scared.  I didn’t sleep a wink the night he wasn’t sleeping in his own bed right here at home.  But as I sit here holding his hand, his grown up hand, marveling at how much time has passed, I have hope … hope Ben will grow up healthy and strong.  (We have already made it so far.)  And despite all my fears I have hope Ben will be OK.

Monday, November 24, 2014


I was scrolling through my old posts and came across this one.  I totally forgot I wrote this ... and I feel the need to share again.  The T1 siblings are heroes ... and certainly should not be forgotten!

One evening in July when we were at the CWD conference, I asked Garren and Cole how they were enjoying their sessions.  I asked questions about how their sessions worked and what they talked about.  They explained to me that often they get separated from the kids with T1 so they can discuss issues specific to being a sibling of a kid with T1.  I continued my probe and asked what kinds of things did the kids bring up.  Cole said a lot of the kids mentioned that their parents spend more time taking care of their T1 brother or sister and less time on them.  hmmm ... interesting 
So I asked Cole, "How do you feel about that?  Do you think we spend more time with Ben?"
Both Garren and Cole replied, "Yes."
I then asked,  "Does that bother you?"
Cole quickly responded, "No!  Because I know that is what you have to do."
Seriously, my boys are pretty awesome!  And I think its time to devote a post to Garren and Cole and let the whole world know (or at least the handful of people who read my blog) how truly great these two T1 siblings really are.
To start, Garren is our oldest.  He has been the light of this family since he was born.  He has a talent for being able to chat as easily with an adult as with a toddler.  I marvel at how self-assured he is.  In social settings I tend to be wallflower, but not Garren!  Within a few minutes he will know the names of everyone in the room and he will even have several new cell phone numbers to text to.
Cole is a thinker.  He never stops asking questions.  When he was young he would pepper me with questions.  He would want to know how the seasons worked, how far was it to China, and why was the sky blue.  Once after a long day of questions I had to tell him I just did not know all the answers!  And Cole, the ever-clever toddler, responds, "Mommy how could that be true, you went to college twice?” To this day he is still asking questions (thankfully, I am no longer his only source for the answers.)
Now to be clear, my boys are not angels.  At times I find myself refereeing their arguments.  I often refer to them as the "bicker brothers."  Believe me, a three-hour car ride to visit their grandmother in Maine can be extremely painful.
But at the same time I know how much they do love each other.  They have proved it to both Jeff and me time and time again.  Since the day we came home from the hospital after Ben was diagnosed these two brothers have been nothing but supportive.  They have made sacrifices without complaint.  They have learned to carb count.  They have taken care of Ben through both highs and lows.  They have even worked to raise money for JDRF in the hope of finding a cure!
I have often been teased that I love Ben the most.  Admittedly, since Ben’s diagnosis Jeff and I have definitely spent more time taking care of Ben and worrying about his diabetes.  We have spent hours and days working on raising money for JDRF.  And I have spent hours writing stories for this blog.  But in no way does that mean I love Ben the most.  How could I when Ben has two of the greatest brothers, Garren and Cole!

Thursday, November 6, 2014


Liability.  We often bump up against this word.  Recently we smashed up against it.

We asked for some help watching over Ben.  We got a, “Hmmmmmm, we need to check with our lawyers first.”
At this point, I know exactly where this is going, and I have already moved on.  But I let this little charade play out, letting the little devil on my shoulder get a tiny bit of satisfaction and a good laugh letting them waste their time, energy and money.  After the lawyer “talk”, we are told, “We can’t help you because it’s too much of a liability.”

I have heard this before, and it makes little sense.  I am not a lawyer, but I did take Law in high school and my teacher spent the whole semester explaining the difference between criminal court and civil court.  The lawyers didn’t say it was against the law to help Ben.  The cops aren’t going to knock down doors, slap on handcuffs and cart anyone off to criminal court.  Liability means suing, and that means a trip to civil court.  What the lawyers are worried about is a trip to civil court and a money settlement.  Now to take this one step further, I ask, “Who exactly would be taking them to civil court?”  There is no T1 mom union out there suing people.  The only logical people who would and could sue them would be Jeff and me!
What they are really saying is, “We can’t help your son because we don’t think it’s worth the risk that YOU will sue us.”

Now that is a bit insulting and offensive, but I am neither.  Because I know sometimes there is a difference between what you say and what you really mean.  And what they really mean is, “We are scared.  We are too scared to help you.”  Now that I get!  Because I am scared too!  And to be honest, if you are too scared to help I would prefer you didn’t.
This is when the little angel on my other shoulder, whispers in my ear and reminds me, when you are knocked down and feel kicked in the gut, these are the moments when you learn who the brave people are.  Because eventually someone will stretch out a helping hand and you get to meet real life heroes.  We have met these people before, our old school nurse (I Believe in Angels), Ben’s friend’s parents (A Sincere Thank You), his hockey coaches (An Ode to SMS Hockey), and they are all a blessing.

So with my little devil chuckling, hoping a nice big lawyer bill lands on someone’s desk and my little angel reminding me real angels do live among us, I shut the door on any more stupid liability talk.
We are doing fine, matter of fact, Ben is doing great!  And we can handle this, with the help of those people that love us and all of those brave real life super heroes!

Sunday, October 26, 2014


Saturday night
Everyone is home
From soccer tournament
From hockey game
From soccer game
From working mom’s weekend errands

Putting away groceries
Ben finds his favorite
A bag of frozen wontons
“Please mom?”

Kitchen is a buzz
All three boys
All at the same time
Telling stories
Of their athletic triumphs

Open wonton bag
Dump in hot pan
Dump bag in trash

It’s a cacophony
Of play-by-plays
And we tease
And we laugh
And I forget

Kitchen timer buzzes
Wontons are done
Ben rushes over with plate
“How hungry are you?
How many do you want?”
“Can I have them all?
“Can you save some for me?”

But I am a mom
And Ben is my heart
So I give him most
His plate is full
Ben smiles
I smile

Jeff interrupts
“Do you know how many carbs
are on that plate?”

Oh my!
I forgot
For a glorious hour
I totally forgot
We were a normal family
Cooking a meal
And not worrying
About blood sugars
And carbs!

Well at least I forgot
Fortunately, Jeff did not
I laugh and tease
“I am a horrible T1 mom!
I totally forgot Ben had diabetes!”

As I am digging through trash
For wonton wrapper
To help with carb math
Ben whispers in my ear,
“Sometimes I do that too.
Doesn’t it feel good?”

I don’t want to admit it
I don’t want to encourage forgetting
Not the healthiest
Or safest
Way to handle a chronic disease

But he is right
For a sweet moment
It did feel good
So I smile at him
And nod my head
And he smiles too.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Hard Work

I haven’t written a post in awhile
Been busy
With other non-D things

My oldest started high school
Spent the summer obsessing
Obsessing about his schedule
Like I obsess about Ben’s BGs
Convinced his entire future
Hinges on me getting this right

All the while
Ben’s BGs are all over the place
Tweaked every pump setting
Insulin to carb ratios
Hoping his numbers will come down

Nights were the toughest
Always high
Stubbornly high
And I hate highs at night
Figure if I can keep those down
Might offset the madness that happens during the day

Friends, family, neighbors ask,
“How is Ben doing this summer?”
“Great,” I say
Then me, being over-honest add,
“But his BGs have been all over the place.”

Over-sharing, bad idea!
Because this always leads to,
“I know so-and-so who has Type 1
And they have it all under control.
Why is it so hard for you?”

Scratch head
Never sure how to reply
Since I don't know so-and-so

After the third time,
I am asked the same question
I finally come up with this reply,
 “There is a difference between
Having a hard time and trying hard.
We are trying hard.”

This usually leaves them scratching their head
And conversation changes
And life goes on
Before summer ends
We take one last vacation
Before school starts

Not only is my oldest starting high school
Ben is starting middle school
With Ben’s new schedule
His BGs are again all over the place

Every day after school
I asked my oldest, “How were your classes today?”
I asked Ben, “How were your numbers today?”

Eventually, I stop nagging
Over the first few weeks of school
My oldest settles into the high school
Making the soccer team
Enjoying most of his classes
(there will never be joy in Algebra)
And Ben’s BGs settled down too

Just this week was
Endo appointment time
Before we left
I already figured
We were going to see a high A1c
It had been a rocky summer
And a rocky start to school

But, to our surprise
Ben’s A1c was the lowest it has ever been!

When we got home
Jeff asked Ben,
“How was the appointment?”
Rather nonchalantly Ben said,
“Doctor didn’t really say much
Because she spent the whole time
Telling us how awesome we are.”

I gave myself a high five

Sometimes trying hard
Does pay off!
Now, if only I could convince my oldest
Hard work could pay off in Algebra too!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

CWD 2014 ... Aha! Moment

Here is my crazy-T1-mom confession ...  It’s not the lows that scare me and keep me up at night it’s the highs! 

I can’t even count the number of times I have been told stories about so-and-so’s great-aunt who lost her toes because she had diabetes.  Granted she had Type 2 diabetes … but, I figure, she probably was diagnosed later in life, in her 50s, and lived with it for maybe 20 years before she started suffering from complications.  20 years!  That’s not very long really.  Ben was diagnosed when he was 6!  (I don’t even want to do the math here.)

So when Ben’s blood sugar is over 200 I go a little bonkers.  And his BG is over 200 a lot!  Every time I see a BG over 200, I start imagining all that extra glucose floating around his body, banging up against his eyeballs, kidneys and toes.  And as I watch those stubborn highs continue to stay high, I think crazy thoughts like, “Is this stupid high taking away another day of his life?”  Seriously, a 300 or a 400 can send me over the edge.  I start obsessing about his basals, carb ratios, and sensitivity factors.

Now here is the thing, I have been told often, “Our kids diagnosed today with T1 can live a long healthy life.”  I have been told, “If you manage the disease well there is no reason to fear acute complications.”

But how can that be true?   Every time someone made that statement it felt like a lie.  It just didn’t make sense to me.  The logic didn’t fit.  High blood sugars whether caused by Type 1 or Type 2 are bad, really bad.  I had to be missing something …

Then came the 2014 Children’s with Diabetes conference.   And that is where I had my Aha moment!

I believe it was on Friday of conference week, I was attending one of the last sessions, and honestly I don’t totally remember what the main topic was, but somewhere near the beginning of the hour one of the presenters said, “Your kids diagnosed today with T1 can live a long healthy life.”

And I thought to myself, “Yeah, right … Liar!”

I am pretty sure, I just thought it, and didn’t say it out loud … because then he explained, “Just so you know, your kids do not have to suffer the same complications your friend’s grandmother with Type 2 suffered.”

Now he had my attention … he continued to explain (and I will paraphrase here) …

When you are diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, your pancreas was working, chugging along and then all of a sudden it stops.  You can live a few months or so like this, but eventually you make your way to the doctor and get the diagnosis, “You have Type 1 diabetes.”  Now with Type 2 diabetes, the diagnosis isn’t quite so abrupt, it’s much more of a gradual decline.  And that decline can happen over years and years, and it can be measured decades!  And during those decades your blood sugars are rising and sadly causing damage.

Aha!  It’s the pre-diabetes I was missing!

This all seemed to make sense now.  I could put all the logic pieces back into place.  There is no conspiracy of liars.  Ben really might be OK.  Next time I saw Ben’s BG cross that 200 line … I don’t have to freak out!  We need to just keeping fighting the good fight … a fight that suddenly seemed fairer.  Us, manned with our fancy technology, conferences, textbooks, and doctors, might just be able to help Ben live a long and happy life despite his diabetes.

Deep breath


The presenter dropped this nugget of wisdom and then quickly moved on to his real presentation (which I still can’t remember) but I did quietly think to myself, “Thank you.”