There but for the Grace of God….

This week I was going to write about Diabetes Art Day.  I actually I planned to participate until I took a look at the amazing creative efforts of people and felt that my stick men would just not cut it (even if I made them out of test strips!) . That was the plan but life seems to change plans. 

I was speaking to a friend the other day.  His daughter in-law and grand-daughter were returning from the funeral of a young man.  I had heard that a friend of this woman’s son had passed away and I felt bad for those who loved him but that was my last thought…until this conversation. That is when I learned a bit more about how he died.  

This young man, someones baby, someones son, was just 20 years old.  He had Type 1 diabetes.  He was active and involved in sports. He went low while playing sports, passed out, seized and never regained consciousness. 

My heart stop.  I had to remind myself to breathe.  My friend said that he really hadn’t wanted to tell me about a diabetes death of a young man but he felt that I would find out anyway.  I somehow managed to continue the conversation noting that I sadly am well aware of how deadly diabetes is.  We continued to talk and educated. He understood much more about my fears after years of spending time with myself and my son.  He knew that this could be my child and that my fears were justified. 

I don’t know this young man’s family.  I don’t know about his life.  I know that he is only just older than my oldest son. I know that his family is now living my worst nightmare. I know that this isn’t right. I know that young children are not to die because of diabetes.  It just should not be.  

Parents worry about their sons drinking and driving.  We worry about them trying drugs.  We worry about them getting into bar fights, having an accident at work, or driving too fast.  I know…I worry but I don’t obsess.  

Last night, my internal alarm went off at 2 am.  I rolled over, looked at the clock and before I could groan about how unfair it was that I have been getting out of bed throughout the night for all of these years, I was up.  As I walked to my son’s room, I said “Thank you.”  I repeated those words as I searched for his meter, strips and lancing device.  I said thank you again, when I saw a high reading and reached for his pump to correct.  Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you.

I realized that as I was standing there testing, another family was waking with no one to test.  They were wishing that they were me. They prayed to have their time back to hold their son, to watch him sleep, to be able to test him and see him wake for one more morning. 

I headed  back to my bed grateful for all that is. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. 

Update after…Hating Five

I was driving in the car with my youngest son. He yawned and I asked if he was tired. 


“Well, I thought you might be tired since I was up all night wondering when you were going to go low.  You hovered between 4 and 5 all night. I wasn’t sure what to do and didn’t want to send you high so I ended up awake for most of the night. You finally did go low, I gave you a juice and things eventually worked out.”

“Next time give me a sandwich.”


“Next time I’m low.  Don’t worry about the juice, I would rather have a sandwich.”

Oh my! Teen boys and food! Its not like I haven’t fed him a sandwich while he slept before but that was back in the days of injections and NPH. Nowadays its juice, gel or tablets and some sleep. 

After this nightmare night, as I mentioned, I had to decide if I should decrease the basal rate or give it one more shot.  We had a huge dumping of snow that day and my son had been out shoveling for a few hours. When the evening came, I had to decide what to do. I went with the wait and see approach. In hindsight, it wasn’t my most brilliant decision but this time he was over 7 (130ish) before going to bed so I thought I had a lot more wiggle room.

Wrong! Two o’clock in the morning saw him dropping again. There was no sandwich.  I found some regular pop and decreased his basal rate.  I also changed the previous rate back down to where it was to begin with. I was not taking any more chances!

Why I hate Five

Its been three Thursdays and we are still doing the “Reading Review Thursdays“! Yesterday was actually a bit of a fluke.  My son had been having high reading overnight for the past three days. I knew that it was time to make a change. I decided that it was easiest to look at the rest of his readings then as well.  As I was writing down dates, I realized that it was Thursday! I was right on schedule. Yeah me!

Yes, I need a life and am a little sleep deprived.  You see, despite being high for three nights (and I mean close to 20 or 360 for my American pals) my son was perfect to on the low side all night long last night. 

After our pump tweaking, we sat at the kitchen table and chatted while he drank a Tim Horton’s smoothie.  He was 4.5(81) before he started.  He then ate two Eggo’s as well.  I felt that he would soon be running a lot higher and my basal changes came just in time!

Erring on the side of caution however, about 20 minutes after he went to bed I had him test again. He was 4.2 (75)! Crap! I sent him to the kitchen to chug a glass of juice. 

“Should I stay up and retest because I am low?”
“Well, you aren’t technically low. You are just in a range that I really don’t like you to go to sleep at.  The juice should cover it. You have school tomorrow, get some rest and I will check later.”

I checked him a few hours later and he was right around 5 (90).  Was he going to go up or drop? I was not going to get any sleep.  I hate these nights–no clear low but clearly not safe yet either.  I didn’t want to add glucose and send him too high but was it safe to leave him? Would he stay around 5? Could I be that lucky? My mind would continue to race like this all night long.

I slept for another hour but I had to get up and check again. He was dropping.  At 4.2(75) I gave him juice, grabbed my book and waited.  By 4am, he was back up to 5.6 (101) and I could sleep for another couple of hours.  By 6am I was up again but he was finally up over my favorite number 6 and had climbed to 8.6(155).  A bit of peace at last!!

Today I have to decide if I keep the basal rates at their new higher level and risk a repeat performance (although with a little knowledge, a temporary basal would be added to the mix if things began to tank) or if I go back to the old settings and assume that the highs were site related. Decisions, decisions. Just another night on the Diabetes Roller coaster.

The “LOW” down on a 13 year old’s Party weekend

What a weekend! Friday, my son came home from school and wanted to go to the fair with his friends that evening. Where was the fair? At the other end of the city of course! Well, the school year is coming to a close and some of these boys will be going to a different school from my son in the fall, so I agreed to allow him to go.  He had glucose, meter, pump, cell phone and was set. 

As I picked him up later that evening I was rather amazed. My baby had been out in a city without me or his older brother, walking the streets at night and I had allowed it? He was with a crowd of a dozen or so other young people so there really was no danger involved. It was just scary that he was old enough to have this sort of responsibility.  He had tested and all was fine but I knew that after walking for five hours on a fair ground and goofing around with his pals that Diabetes would get its revenge.  It had behaved while he was out.  There were no lows to worry about so you know that the night would be rough! 

This was one night that I decided to be proactive. I put on his “low” basal was sure I would give myself a small reprieve.  When I tested him at 3am he was perfect. I gave myself a mental high five and went back to bed with a small glow of victory. I had beat Diabetes at is own game this night!! Oh yeah!!

My victory was short lived however. There was to be no sleeping in on this Saturday morning. I hadn’t extended that reduced basal rate and Diabetes took advantage causing him to be low.  We all got up, showered and headed out to breakfast instead. Take that Diabetes!

Later that night was party number two for my social young son.  This party I knew would be active.  A group of boys were headed off into the woods as we arrived but I was more concerned with making sure that he again had all of his supplies so I didn’t think to adjust any basal rates. After a few hours, I sent him a text and asked if he had tested. He said he was just about to do it.  I waited.  An hour later I received a second text..

“I am 3.4.  Took 4 tablets.”

3.4 (62) Crap! but at least he had treated. I called him back and told him to retest and put that “low” basal rate on.  I waited and sent another text asking if he had retested.  He assured me that all was okay. 

We got home after midnight that night and once again I double checked to see if the temporary basal rate was on. This time I also made sure that I reactivated it when I tested during the night. I was going to beat Diabetes this time! Wrong.  I may have delayed things but Diabetes continued to send my son low multiple times during the rest of the day. I was really getting tired of this.

Sunday evening I sat down with the meter, pump and my son. I got out the log book and got serious.  I made carb to insulin ratio adjustments. I analyzed basal rates.  I changed profiles to allow for summer late nights, later mornings and increased activity levels.  Once again I was confident that we would at least see a few days of good readings.
Wrong.  Diabetes kicked my butt once more.  The night was fine but by 8am things were going down hill fast.  3.0 (54), four glucose tablets….3.0(54) another four glucose tablets and a few choice words…5.6 (100) victory but by then I was wide awake. So much for sleeping in on a stormy Monday morning. My son got up as well, complaining that his mouth felt like he had eaten a tonne of sugar…well you did!

I have more changes to make before my son heads off to visit his father for a few weeks. If this keeps up, my nerves will be shot before he heads off on his own.  The reality of diabetes is that once I get these rates just perfect, he will have a growth spurt and we will be fighting highs for the next two months. I so love this windy, twisted road of life with Diabetes…grrr! Give me strength!

The “Lord help me!” Basal

As I mentioned before, it is technically trying to head into summer here.  Temperatures have been all over the map for the past few weeks and more than two hours of sunshine at any given time is considered a miracle.  Despite that fact, my son has been more active than ever.  He is out playing hockey with friends in the neighborhood, at school and in other people’s neighbourhoods.  We have had him mowing grass and helping with renovations to the backyard.  He has been a busy boy and his blood glucose levels are beginning to tell the tale.

We have gone from rarely seeing numbers in the two’s (36+) to having a new favorite number of 2.9 (52). He was 2.9 at 9pm.  He was 2.9 at 3:30am. He was 2.9 at 10:30am.  He was 2.9 at 2pm.  You get the idea. 

I obviously have some serious basal adjusting to do. In the meantime, I have been trying to ward off all of these lows.  We have an “active day” basal for things like sports days or times when we know he will be on the go for at least eight hours.  We also have a “LO” basal for those nights when I have been fighting lows and nothing seems to work.  Because we have rain, sunshine, drizzle, rain, and then sunshine, I have been using the “LO” basal.  It gives us two hours of reduced basal rather than dropping things for the entire day.

Today  after umpteen lows, juices, and retesting, I reminded him about the “LO” basal.  As I was talking to him, my brain thought, “To heck with a LO basal or an Active Day basal.  What we really need is a ‘Lord help me!’ basal.”  It would be the one you push when you are clean out of options.  You would implement that basal when you felt you have colossally failed as a pancreas and need divine intervention.  It was for those times when highs would not come down no matter what you do and lows refuse to respond to any of your treatments. 
With summer coming and my children away from my for much longer than I would like, a “Lord help me!” basal would also be perfect to keep him safe when he is away.  I would set it before he travels for any length of time and could truly rest while he was gone.  This is definitely the solution to many of my worries. Its not a cure but it would help reduce the rapid increase of grey “worry” hairs that I continue to get.  I mean, Divine assistance? That could be pretty powerful!
Alright pump companies, get on that phone and see if you can get a direct line to a higher
 power. Ask him/her to work with you on that new basal rates for frazzled parents and people with diabetes please.

Diabetes on snowmobile

What a day! Saturday was sunny and the air was crisp.  Larry was up before the birds and proclaiming that this would be a day that we would enjoy to the fullest.  Before my eyes were fully open, he was moving the boy toys around to fit the quad in the back of the truck and hook up the trailer with the snowmobile.  My son and I were moving a lot slower but quickly picked up his enthusiasm in not wanting to waste one of the best days of the winter.

Before we left the house, my child and I went through our own checklist…
How much insulin do you have?
Full cartridge. Battery life is good. Twenty test strips will get me through the day but I don’t have hand wash.
Have hand wash. Should we bring an syringe in case your pump dies?
We never bring a syringe for trips like this.
But what if???
Okay, we are ready to go.

And go we did.  We took the machines to our drop off point and didn’t return until after supper.  Larry was off on quad and my son was my chauffeur on the snow machine.  After flying over one jump, “just to loosen up the track, Mom”, I was a half inch shorter and yelling his full name (you know that means trouble!). Despite the rough start, the rest of the trip to the cabin was perfect and incredibly scenic. 

An hour long ride and we were at our destination.  Soon we had the fire in, roasted a few wieners and were ready to enjoy some more sight-seeing. As we took off for the second time, I began to panic.  Did my son test before we left? Was I allowing him to drive when he could be under 5 (90)? What kind of a parent was I? How could I forget something like this? We are going for a good ride.  We will not be stopping ever ten minutes. I should have made sure he tested. Please Diabetes, give us a break and let us just enjoy the day!

At the next stop, the first words out of my mouth were “test”.  He just gave me that casual look of, “I’m fine but if you say so.”  He tested and was okay.  I felt a little better. I wanted to just leave Diabetes tossed off of the machine beside a snow drift but that couldn’t be.  Stupid thing had to come with us.  We cruised around for the rest of the day, panic and Mommy concern popping up now and then.  I also was nervous about him being one of the boys and demonstrating how well he could handle a snow machine but that’s just Mommy worry and par for the course.

As the day wound to a close, we were all exhausted from a day of wind, sun and crisp fresh air.  Diabetes had behaved quite well for a change. There were no lows.  There were no scary highs.  I knew that the night may not prove as positive and prayed that I would not fall into too deep of a sleep that night. After almost eleven years of this I still worry about over-sleeping.  There was no need to worry however, Larry’s cold was more vicious than ever and his restless night allowed for me to be awake to test, to top up an almost low, and test again a little later. No disasters thankfully just great memories!

Diabetes threw a tantrum

We began to prepare for our weekend away…
Spare clothes for when the first set gets wet in the snow?


Spare glucometer?

Test strips, ketone strips, alcohol swabs, spare pump, batteries, and infusion sets for every day we will be gone?


Insulin and cartridges? Oops, insulin is old and the other bottle is empty.  Make sure to grab a new bottle.  Actually grab two.

Why two?
One could freeze. Get two.

Soon we hopped in the truck and did the head count–two adults? Yep.  Two kids? Yep.  Three dogs? Yep and we were off! A weekend of snowmobiling, relaxing, some snowboarding, and possibly a drink or two.

Saturday morning Larry and I were up before the boys and headed out for a day on the powder.  He found us a great trail and the first cabin we found housed old friends of his.  We soon kicked them all out of bed and went off to enjoy four feet of powder, some packed snow, frozen ponds, and sunny skies. 
Half way through our day my cell phone rang. We were in the middle of nowhere. Service was poor so I had to wait to call my son back.  A text got through while I was trying to get a call out. 
“Where did you put the insulin?”  Where did I put the insulin??  What the heck was he talking about? I threw out the insulin and told him to get a couple new vials.

I sent him a message back saying just that. The insulin was whereever he packed it.  The text back left me on the verge of tears.  He didn’t pack any. Why did we have to bring diabetes along? Isn’t life enough to deal with? Why did we have to deal with remembering all of this extra stuff?  I was doing my best not to panic or be overwhelmed. Insulin could be purchased in the nearest town.  It would cost me out of pocket but the weekend would be saved. 
Larry had a better idea. His cousin had a son with Type 1.  He would call them and see if he used the same insulin.  He maded the call. The son used a different type but it was still fast-acting. What do we do? I knew that Larry would be upset to have his day ruined and I didn’t blame him. I knew that changing insulin was not going to kill my son but it would work differently and require some serious testing.  Larry asked me what to do. I said, he could use the other type of insulin.  He told them to bring the insulin over to my son.

We gave them a half hour and then we called to see what had happened.  My son was outside playing in the snow. His pump was filled and all was okay. I reminded him to test a lot and all was okay. 

We continued our day and my son continued his.  We got back in the early evening and found everyone alive and content.  We promised the boys that they would be able to ride around the next day but they seemed to have had a great time amusing themselves in the snow.  As the evening wore on, my son sang the praises of the new insulin. He was running lower than he had in ages and he was happy about it.  I reminded him that he was also more active than he had been in a long time.  I checked how much insulin he had in the cartridge and tried to decided if I needed to buy more or if we could make it until we got home. We were good but I needed to top up the cartridge he had. When I asked for a new cartridge my son said, we forgot that too.

What???? Again, I was surprisingly calm. I asked how he filled the cartridge. He said he should be a doctor! He used a syringe and filled away.  Forgetting the cartridges was my fault. I was sure there were some in the bag but didn’t look.  I was glad he had figured out how to make things work on his own. We refilled the cartridge he had out and all was okay.

That night I reduced his basal rate in fear of the different insulin and the higher activity.  He remained okay. He lost a site during the night that Mom didn’t find out about until the next day so he was a little high. The next day was equally as active and that night diabetes continued its weekend long tantrum. It had interupted a couple’s day.  It had messed up a “guys’ day”.  The last straw was it messed up another night sleep–for four of us.
At 3 am I woke up.  I stumbled across the hall and tried to test my son.  I couldn’t see. I couldn’t find a light.  I had him wake up to test.  He couldn’t get blood in the strip either.  We turned on a light, no longer worried about waking his bunk mate.  Thankfully the other child continued to sleep while we waited to see what the meter would say.  He was low.  Crap! I had brought a box of juice packs so I headed over to my room to get one. Of course my book fell and things began to crash in the tiny room.  So much for being quiet!

He drank the juice. I turned on my light to read knowing that I would most likely wake Larry but hoping he would sleep.  No such luck. “He’s low?” Yes. He tried to go back to sleep.  

I read for 15 minutes and headed back into my son’s room. Test. Going up but still low.  Crap! More juice. Box is now harder to get into. More banging. Will anyone sleep through this?? Drink. Read. Wait. Hear more people waking. Lovely.  I suck at being quiet at three in the morning in someone else’s house. Diabetes should learn to be quiet. I wait. Retest. Yes! I can sleep!! Well for another couple of hours because we were leaving first thing in the morning.  It would have been so much nicer if diabetes had have stayed home or at least learned how to behave in public.