A Morning with a Child with Type 1 Diabetes (Why It Takes Us So Much Longer To Get Anything Done Anymore)
Getting kids ready for school in the morning was never easy in the first place, especially for the one with "skin sensitivity issues." In other words, "NOOOOOOO! I AM NOT WEARING SOCKS TODAY!!! OR SHOES!!!" "Stop rushing me!!!" Ummm…
Our routine has become more complicated. For a person who has always enjoyed the pride of never being late, each day is a new challenge. We now have many more added steps (not to mention countless extra thoughts) added in, thanks to my youngest child's diabetes.
Below I have written out our normal, getting ready for school procedure. Included in it, in the purple, I have added the extra steps we now have to take because of the T1D:
1. Wake up the child. (We never had to do this before, but now we have noticed that high blood sugars lead to sleepiness, making it harder to get up in the morning.)
2. Hope we aren't starting the morning off on the wrong foot with crankiness due to any possible misstep.
3. Brush hair. (Must been done while child is entranced in watching TV. Because have you SEEN how much hair she has?) If it is summer, entertain and reject the possibility of a ponytail to keep hot hair off the neck.
4. Set up the kit for blood sugar test. (We call it the prick.)
4a. Wash hands.
4b. Make sure lancing device has a new needle in it.
4c. Check to make sure we have enough alcohol wipes and bandaids for the day.
4d. Unwrap a bandaid for the morning prick.
4e. Prepare a test strip to go in the meter (not putting it in all the way, because if you don't use it quickly enough, the meter shuts off and the strip records an error. Because the strips cost roughly $2 each, and we go through at least 6 in a day, this is a big deal.)
4f. Coax child away from the TV. (She's a little Type A about all this, so it is her decision that we never prick her without her fully aware.)
4g. Choose a finger to prick. Sometimes, depending on how many pricks we have had recently, her fingers may still be a little torn up and not well-healed, so this could take a while to figure out.
4h. Open the alcohol wipe and wipe down the finger to be pricked and all the fingers on the other hand that she will use to squeeze her finger.
4i. Insert test strip as she "primes" her finger to draw blood to it. (She is a slow bleeder, and it is often hard to get enough blood out before the meter shuts down.)
4j. Wait for her to say her required introduction of, "Do it quick!" (And not too close to the nail, or to the middle, or on the wrong side…)
4k. Prick her finger and squeeze.
4l. When the appropriate amount of blood has formed a bubble, dip the strip in and wait for a result.
4m. Wipe off excess blood and apply bandaid.
4n. Throw away used products.
5. Get BS (blood sugar) reading and…
5a. Record it in the log book.
5b. Calibrate her Dexcom with it.
5c. Record it on the meal log book to enter into the breakfast formula.
6. Figure out what she's going to have for breakfast.
6a. Into this thought process now is not only nutrition, but trying to remember how certain foods have affected her BS in the past, and if it has happened enough times to consider that a food "definitely" will always affect her BS in such a manner.
6b. If she is requesting certain foods, see how we can work it in to still be within a reasonable amount of carbs.
7. Calculate the carbs in the breakfast, enter that into the breakfast formula.
8. Finish working out the calculations for the formula and determine insulin needed.
8a. Record insulin amount in log book.
9. Prep insulin shot.
9a. Put on needle and prime injection pen.
9b. Get ice pack.
9c. Choose an injection site on her body and point it out to her.
9d. Pinch site "really hard" per her direction.
9e. Administer shot.
10. Clean up shot.
10a. Dispose of any sharps (needle/ lancet) in sharps container.
10b. Return ice pack and injection pen.
11. Make and serve breakfast.
12. Eat my own breakfast.
13. Cajole child into getting dressed.
14. Check on the lunch, packed last night.
14a. Double check that the necessary calculations are noted in the meal book. (Also done last night.)
14b. Pack the meal book in the school bag to go to the nurse at school.
15. Check special for the day and make sure library books are packed if needed or sneakers out for gym.
16. Make sure homework and extra snacks are in bag.
17. Help with socks and let her put on shoes while I turn off TV.
18. Put on Dexcom monitor, coat, and back pack.
19. Wait to solve any meltdowns, the best I can.
20. Take her out to the bus stop.
All of this takes place in about 45 minutes. During that time, I used to also be able to throw away all trash the rest of the family left out for me, wash the breakfast dishes, and clean the cat liter. Those chores are now fit in later in the day.
And keep in mind, all of the above is assuming everything goes smoothly, and no other surprises get thrown in. Some of the other issues that we have had to throw in just last week included:
* finding a Santa hat for the Sing-Along
* writing an excuse note for an older child's absence
* tracking down some chapstick to take care of lips at school
* super gluing the velcro back on the sneakers
* just needing extra snuggles
You know, and all that parent stuff. Also, I have 2 other kids.
After she goes, I'm not on my own yet. I need to make sure my cell phone is charged, because I will be on the phone with the school nurse 2-3 times during the day. I will also be touch with the endocrinologist's office several times a week.
If it's Monday, we also need to scan the log book page and message it to the doctor's office for an update to her formulas, noting any extra factors that could have led to highs or lows. (For example, a low after running around at recess, or not finishing a meal.)
We are still pretty early in our diagnosis, so we are still working out hospital bills from when she was in the PICU, insurance claims for her medication, and applications for a pump to administer her insulin. As I write this, I have the phone on speaker on hold with the pharmacy, waiting to hear if my co-pay reduction will be verified. The time on the phone currently stands at 1 hour and 2 minutes.
Once she comes home from school, we do it all again with dinner. Then homework, a bath, and one more prick and shot before bed.
I didn't want to share all of this with you so that you would pity me (or us). It's not a request for any one to help us to find a "better way to organize our life."
It's a plea for patience with us. When I forget to bring chips to a party, trust me, I was just impressed with myself for making it out the door. When you see me without make-up, I just didn't think it was worth my time that day. There's so much more on my mind these days.
And when my daughter is a little late to school, it might have been because she's tired of it all and needed an extra long hug from Mommy in the morning. I'm not going to deny it to her. She does have it tough.
So, thank you for understanding. It's our life now, and we are adjusting to it. If you are a praying person, please pray that a cure comes quickly for Type 1 Diabetes. Until then, we're praying for endurance. Because we're all a little tired.
I wasn't sure I had an answer to this question at first, until I looked deep down inside. I had to dig through a lot of superficial "this is the way I am supposed to behave as a 40-year-old housewife" stuff and expose what I was really feeling. I'm no psychologist, but I can give it a shot.
It goes beyond the pretty dress. (Which, I really have to say, I was so excited to wear for this Christmas party. I didn't really need a new dress, but when I saw lacy, sparkly, and red - in my size!- I couldn't say no. But, moving on.)
It's a need for acceptance. And I am not talking about a need for others to accept me, I am talking about my need to accept the life I live.
Since more than half of the women at the gala were younger than me by at least 10 years, I think I may get some leeway. No one would expect me to go out there and be the Homecoming Queen. (Thank goodness!) But I want to be able to go out and be happy. Since I knew so few people at the party, only one person would even be looking at me anyway.
And it's all about that one. But I will get back to him in a minute.
So it's not really as much about the dress as it is the woman in the dress, of course.
No one looks at a 40-year-old as a young lady anymore, unless they happen to be older. When I leave something behind at a store these days, a clerk will more often than not yell out, "Ma'am" instead of, "Miss." So therefore, 40 must be the beginning of "old." And what does old mean?
1. The best is behind you.
The days of not looking at the food I put into my mouth are long gone. I seriously remember deciding to celebrate Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday) at college one year by staying in the dining hall for the entire day, with donuts by my side. (Later, I'd go for a 5-mile run and have no regrets.)
So too, are gone the days of being annoyed by a man whistling as I ran by instead of grateful for his kind gesture.
And the days when no one wondered how many children my hips held.
The days of going to bed without trying to remember if I took off all of that wrinkle-causing make up before I hit the wrinkle-causing pillow case.
Keeping in touch with my youth is a part of why I work out so hard. (But of course, the other reasons for that are because I can, and because I don't want to die early. Those other issues require a post all on their own.)
2. The worst could be ahead.
Another reason I work out so hard. If I didn't there would be osteoporosis, heart disease (due to my high cholesterol), and definitely (with the way I eat) obesity. I am sure there's more, but I don't want to go any further. And that's just physical health. Exercise keeps my mind and emotions in a good place as well.
I won't dwell on this topic too much, because I prefer to think of the good possibilities we will see in the future. It's just not likely that any of those will happen in my body at this point.
3. The world no longer revolves around you.
This one kind of hurt to admit, but we all have a part of us that wants to matter. Just as when we were little siblings without a name of our own - for how long was I known as "Custer's sister?" - now we are known much of the time as our child's parent. Even when we go to the pediatrician's office, they don't bother to call us "Mrs. So-and-so," (probably because in this day and age, it could be any name at all!). They just call us Mom. I've always found that a little weird, but it works, doesn't it? Go to the mall and yell, "Mom!" See how many heads turn. Even if we don't recognize the voice, we turn our heads. I don't know why.
There needs to be an acceptance of being this age, whether it be considered "old" on not. There needs to be a turning out - a focus on everything outside of myself. (Really this should happen at every age. It's just now, there's no getting away from it.)
But on Pretty Dress Day, I get one night off. I can try to look a little younger, eat like I did when I was younger, and pretend for a few hours that no one else's existence depends on the choices I make for them. (No one once called out, "Mom!" at the party.) I can accept the rest of my life more readily when I get a break once in a while.
There can be a little (just a little) indulgence in who I am, not as a parent, but as a woman. A woman who likes to dress up and hopefully bring a smile to her husband's lips. And maybe, making myself as pretty as I can might make my husband a little happier too.
My older daughter wore shorts today, and it's about 38º F outside. Last year, I would have been yelling at her and telling her she would not leave the house until all her skin was covered.
My younger daughter wore the blue dress to church for the 4th week in a row. I didn't complain as hard as I thought I would, even though she has several other dresses in her closet. Somehow, I don't seem to care as much if people at church think I don't buy her any clothes.
Oh, the many fights we had as the children grew. Some, like potty-training, we saw end with success. There was a right answer. (When you have to go, you go!) Others, like food, we are still struggling with. We have tried so many tricks in that area, good and bad. Our kids just don't eat certain foods. We have not won this battle. I'll get to that in a minute.
And then there are the "small" things.
I don't know if I'm too tired and have lost the will to fight anymore, or if I've grown up as a parent. Maybe, perhaps I've become a worse mom by giving in more now. Or maybe I'm just not the micro-manager I used to be.
There's a lot more truth to that first part, I think, than maybe some of the rest. I'm tired. Maybe I am learning which battles to pick because there are just so many more battles.
I have a pre-teen daughter who has been trying to act like teen since she turned 5. I feel like fighting has been a normal part of our life with her. Although I have always thought I have only chosen to fight for worthy causes, such as what she was eating, and what she was wearing, I think I am seeing a bigger picture now. Her choices are no longer a reflection of me. I can take myself out of the picture.
All 3 of my kids are picky eaters. Yes, I am blessed, aren't I? We tried every method under the sun to get them to eat a reasonable dinner.
Now, I've got bigger concerns at dinner. Life and death concerns. OK, maybe not quite that drastic, but serious medical complications are involved. If my diabetic daughter does NOT eat what I expected her to - what I treated her for with her insulin - she could have more medicine in her little body than it needs. That would cause a drop in her blood sugar, that could lead to a coma. It's rare, but definitely in the range of possibility.
So I save my energy for that. I want to be taken seriously when things are truly serious. I want the kids to know that if I say something is important, it really is. It's not about me, it's about them.
What's important to me now? Health & safety, courtesy, and obedience.
Health: I will fight for my kids' health. I might give up for one a meal in a day, but not all of them. Big picture here. No total junk food meals, of course, but over the course of a day, I want good food going in somewhere along the line. I'm winning with drinks. My kids drink water or milk. Period. We constantly explain "health" to the kids. No one is allow to complain about being "fat." It's healthy or unhealthy. We don't want to hear our kids complaining about fat when they are given every opportunity to be healthy.
Safety: No hurting each other. At all. No doing things that will make someone else cry. Period. If you can prevent someone from hurting, DO IT. There's too much else out there trying to hurt us, we don't need to add family members to the list.
Courtesy: Respect. It's the only thing we ask the kids to show others. You will never go wrong if you use the right words.
Obedience: This one sounds like it is about me, but it isn't. Children are put into families to learn how the world works. In the world, there is always an authority to which we must submit: a boss, a police officer, God. Parents are the first authority and the ones who will train submission to that authority. Bottom line is: If I say it, I will be heeded. Because I believe I only ask what is reasonable, the words "because I said so" are enough.
So basically, if you want to wear the blue dress for the 4th week in a row, and I didn't forbid it for some logical reason, as long as you aren't rude about it, there's no reason you can't.
That covers a lot, doesn't it? So what have I given up?
Cleaning. I have my standards, and yes, it is partly my house. But I am losing this battle. My house is a mess, in my neat-freak eyes. You can't even see the kitchen table for all the mail, pictures, games, gloves, and well, I'm not even sure what else is on there. I don't sit there anymore because I just can't look at it. So I give up. They will move out someday, and I will get the house back.
Showering. I want my children to be clean and to smell like a meadow, but maybe they don't like smelling like a meadow. Until it becomes a health issue, I'll just wait until peer pressure settles in to up the daily washings.
Homework time. Apparently, all of my children prefer to wait to do their homework. I always did mine immediately after school. So they aren't me. I check their grades on line, and know that it is all being turned in. They do know the risk, however, of cutting it too close, and not having someone available to help when they need it. That's how it goes.
Clothing. OK, I do have girls. I buy their clothes, so I don't have to worry too much about modesty at this point. When it becomes an issue, we'll step in with safety concerns. I have a boy too. He will wear the same shirt everyday. Whatever. I'll let his friends tell him when he starts to reek while I stand 3 feet away.
There are some others too. Don't sweat the small stuff.
When my oldest goes outside with shorts in cold weather, she might get cold. (She'll never admit it, though.) Because I know that colds are caused by viruses and not just cold weather, I used to tell myself the issue was frostbite. Chances of that happening were pretty slim too, but something just wasn't right about it. So I needed justify it. Today, I don't.
I'm glad to have put the "you need to wear a coat/no I don't" fight behind me now. As she goes into the teen years, I know there are going to be more serious dangers than I will need to fight. When any of my kids come to me with those teen problems, I want them to be scared if I'm scared, and relieved if I am relieved.
While out on a walk with the oldest the other night, I was shivering. She was happily walking around in shorts, tee shirt, and flip flops. I asked her if she noticed that I wasn't bugging her about wearing a coat. She smiled, patted my back, and said, "Yes, Mother, I'm very proud of you."
That was 2 weeks ago. No signs of pneumonia yet, so maybe we are going to survive a little longer than I expected.
And I will wash the blue dress every week so it is ready for one less fight on the next Sunday morning. The washing machine can take care of that for me while I measure carbs and calculate insulin. If something in the house starts to stink, maybe I'll just go find a cup of coffee to smell instead. I'm going to need that energy for the bigger fights.
Passion Under Grace,