The Mocking Meter

It was four in the morning. I had over slept. I had wanted to check my son by three.  I had increased his basal rate to deal with reoccurring highs but he had also been doing yard work that evening and I was not sure how things were going to go in the diabetes world. 

I stumbled into his room, made my way through the landmine of dirty socks, old t-shirts and the fan he has sitting on the floor. I found the meter, strips and even a lancing devise this time. He lost one the previous night. It has yet to be found but I am sure will surface one day when I least expect it!

I tested and found that he was high.  I cursed. I felt like there was no winning.  I then looked at the meter a little closer. In the top left hand part of the screen was a little text box. It was like the meter wanted to tell me something.  We are using a Verio IQ at the moment so I know that the meter did want to tell me something. 

It had noticed the pattern of highs that he has been having overnight. At four in the morning, when you are tired and frustrated because diabetes has once again messed you (and your child) up completely…(I mean he should have been low not high after an upped basal AND physical activity), the last thing you want to see is a know-it-all blood glucose meter telling you the obvious–Diabetes kicked your butt once again! 

Looking at that small little icon, I could hear the meter say “He is high. He has been high at night for some time.  You really should up his basal rate.  This can cause problems later. What is wrong with you? Why haven’t you done this already? Are you thick? I am giving you the icon.  Get with it won’t you!”

I cursed a little more and left the room. Maybe I will get it right tonight…maybe but probably not. 

Diabetes its a Time out for you!

Dear Diabetes;

I know that you have basically given me the summer off and I appreciate it.  You were on vacation for four of the last six weeks and I have very little input into what you were doing to my son.  

You returned a few days ago behaving like a spoiled two year old child in full tantrum.  I would kindly appreciate it if you would stop! I have not seen a bg level below 10 (180) or even close to 12 (215) since my son came home. I have injected my son for the past two nights to get some sort of control going on and you have bucked that by still not letting him come down into range. 

You have made his body used to being high.  We have tried numerous site changes to battle you.  I am getting tired. 

You have me up at 3am each night fixing all of the damage you have done throughout the day. You are creating more and more highs.  You are causing me a great deal of stress. I can no longer go back to bed and sleep at 3 but instead toss and turn for two more hours wondering if I will win this round. 

I am tired, Diabetes.  I would really appreciate it if you can finish with this childish behavior and behave for at least a short period of time. We are heading off on a plane today and then will be a way from home for a few days. Granted if there are any major problems we will be in the best possible place next week but guess what? I really don’t even want to see minor problems. I am done. Finished. Consider yourself on a time out! 

Thank you;
A very tired Mom. 

Diabetes won that round…

Once again, let me just say…I hate diabetes. It gets on my nerves. It messes with my mind and every time I dare to think I have things figured out? WHAM! It screws with me. 

A few nights ago we were traveling to take my son to visit with his father for a few weeks.  We made a few stops along the way and decided to enjoy a nice big pizza in our hotel room. That night readings provided some great insights.  My son was perfect after two hours.  His readings climbed at the  four hour point.  Eight hours after eating the fat was wreaking havoc and my son was nice and high. Ugh!

I decided to take this as a learning moment.  I took careful note of how things  rose and vowed to make some great, informed changes later. I was going to turn my frown upside down!

The next day we headed back on the road for the final leg of the trip for my son.  We stopped for some lunch. Once again, our travel meal was higher in fat than I would normally like.  Once again, I was sure that we were going to defeat diabetes by getting the insulin ratios and delivery times perfect. Once again I was wrong! 

As we traveled down the highway, I heard my son ask “How much of this glucose gel should I take?”

Crap! “How low are you?”

He was 3.0 (54).  I told him to drink the entire thing.  I looked back and noticed how pale he was.  I began scouring my purse for more glucose. I always have enough food to feed a family of four for a week but I had cleaned things out when I went away last month. I hadn’t replenished. What was I thinking? 

Panic began to creep in. We were on the highway.  We were not near fast acting glucose.  All of our beverages were sugar-free.  I watched the clock and held my breath. Finally I asked my son if he had retested.  He did. He was fine. Phew!! Catastrophe averted! 

Later, I found more glucose hidden in the truck for such emergencies but I am so glad that we didn’t really have to worry about it and I still hate diabetes!

Give him an Inch

I stumbled into my son’s room at 3am.  I grabbed his meter and tested. He was 18(325).  What the??? He was almost low a few nights ago.  He was a little high the night before but this is more than just a little high. What was going on?

An eye looked back at me. “Do you feel high?” I asked. 

“No” He mumbled from his bed.  

I checked his pump and he had corrected at 1am.  What was up? I asked him and he made some sort of excuse. I looked a bit closer. When was his last site change? BINGO!

The site reminder said he should have changed his site two days ago…around the time of the mysterious increases in bg levels.  Did said son do this? No, he pressed ignore and continued on with his XBox game.  

I have been obsessing over his testing. I have randomly checked his meter. I have made small tweaks BUT I did not write down on my calendar when his site needed to be changed (I am sooooo going to miss this feature when we have to give up our Cozmo).  Mom not nagging plus son ignoring equals a bad site that was causing unnecessary highs.  

Moral of the story…Mom needs to be more on the ball checking readings and noting when sites are to be changed followed by harping until those sites are actually changed.

And then there was the bad news

A few hours after my son got home from his time away, I asked to see his meter. I knew there was going to be a problem when the excuses began.  

“Well you see, you won’t find all of my readings on that meter. I used another meter in my shed.”

I asked where the other meter was.  Of course he had left it behind at his father’s.  That was convenient! He said that he had done a lot of testing on the meter he brought home in the last few days so it would give me some idea of what had been going on.  

As I scrolled through the meter I found readings that were between 20-30mmol (360mgdl+).  I tried to breathe.  I asked him what was going on. 

“Well, I was high this morning because I didn’t want to go low last night and interrupt the little bit of sleep I was going to get.  You see how I was low at 11pm? I had a juice and a granola bar to cover it.” 

“A little bit of overkill don’t you think? You were just low (3.7/65), a juice would have done it.  If you weren’t going up that quickly after 15 minutes then you could have added more without sending your readings through the stratosphere.” 

I continued to scroll through the meter and note the results.  I continued to work to breathing.  All of the readings were high and higher! What was going on? 

“I think my site was going bad.  See, my readings dropped once I changed the site.”

“Dropped? When? Where? How long was this site in? You were running over 20 (360) for days!”

He replied that his site was a little old. He had probably gone over by a day or so.  Perhaps his site was as much as seven days old I asked?  He just shrugged his shoulders. I wanted to scream but instead I asked him about a cut on his hand. 

“When did you do that?”


“What do you think it will look like in seven days?”

“I hope it will pretty well be gone.”

“So when you lance a small hole in your body for your cannula, how much healing do you think has gone on around it in seven days? When the tissue around it heals, it can’t absorb insulin any more.” 

He replied that he thought he could go 5-7 days before a site change.  I know that some people will with no problem but he has insurance, he is young, and I really didn’t want to go down that alley with him so I replied that ideally sites are changed every 2-3 days. 

“Oh, well you see all of these highs have meant that I learned a lot this trip. I should probably do this more often. I never realized this stuff before. Now I know it. Wasn’t this a good thing?”

I had to laugh because otherwise I would have strangled him.  None of this information was new. It was all stuff he knew before.  I told him that continuing to run that high would result in serious complications. He told me that he had been told that was hogwash.  I replied that maybe one or two highs would not kill him but doing this forever would quickly result in problems. To help him understand all of this, he was now definitely going to the Friends for Life Conference in Vancouver.  He needed some more training.

Once again he shrugged that teenage shrug and went back to enjoy being home.  I just sat and shook my head.  Maybe he would learn because of this.  Maybe one day everything I tell him about his diabetes care will have some meaning. In the meantime, I will continue to pray, to hate summer vacations and extended periods of insane bg levels. 

Sometimes your the bug

Originally posted in 2009 but the feelings remain the same….

Today I am definitely feeling like the bug. Its after midnight and of course I was dying to get to sleep. I set my alarm for early tomorrow morning…my son’s last day of school. I found a meter and a strip. I grabbed a lancet, waded through all of the junk that the boys had left on the stairs rather than putting away and was off to test. One last check for a few hours. One check and I could sleep! We had been out for pizza to celebrate good grades so my youngest son would still be high. He was 16 (288) earlier so you know I was going to be able to rest.

Wrong! I took the meter. I filled his finger with blood. The strip refused to suck. What the???? Okay, I cleaned the finger. I got more blood. I tried again. It just barely accepted the blood. I waited for the reading…E5. It was an error reading!! Not enough blood. Oh the lovely four letter words that were on the tip of my tongue as I headed back downstairs. Let me try this again.

New meter. This one had to be better. New strip. Same lancing device. Back up the stairs, this time grumbling and picking up items as I went. I threw the items off to the side for the boys to deal with tomorrow and headed to my son’s bed. Once again, I lance his finger. Once again, I get a large amount of blood. The strip sucks this time. I walk towards the stairs not even thinking about having to correct. Good thing…he was 3.2 (57). More choice words as I shuffle off to get some juice. I fill a glass, find a straw and do those stairs for a third time in less than five minutes. He is not keen on drinking. I finally get him to sip. He drinks it all except the last few drops. Those are sucked up into the straw and then fly all over his pillow. He is using my cream pillow cases and I have managed to get strawberry juice on them! I can’t even blame him but I am choked. I clean them as best as I can and now I wait. Why are 15 minutes a lifetime when you are dead tired and simply want this day to end?

Yeah! 5.5 (99) and I am off to bed for two hours. Oh the fun! Oh the joys! Oh where is my DexCom Seven Plus????

Another Step Towards Growing up

My first question to my son each morning when he reaches the breakfast table is “What was your reading this morning?” There are a number of reasons for this greeting. First is the fact that he has been known to get up, eat his breakfast and forget to test.  Another reason is that he also will forget to prebolus when he is high before breakfast or correct for a reading that is high but he thinks is okay.

This morning he hadn’t tested when he woke. I said it should be done before he leaves his bed each morning. He said he was too tired. He had been up for over an hour last night because of a high.

Whoa! What? How did I miss this? Was this before I tested him? Was it when he first went to bed? Did he need to do a new site? What was going on? Instead of peppering him with all of those questions, I first asked “What time were you so high? and what is high?  I had tested and corrected a 20 (360) at 2:30am maybe we need to do something.” 

He explained that he was up at 4:30 and his bg level was up to 25 (450).  He had air in his cartridge that was creating all of the havoc.  He was pretty sure he had fixed the issue but it took him an hour (so he claims) and he was not a happy camper this morning. He proceeded to correct the 14 (255) that he was down to and bolus for his breakfast. 

I watched him both proud and sad.  He had woken up (at least he wakes for highs if nothing else).  He had taken charge of his care at a time when we all want to sleep instead of engage our mind.  He had not come and woke me up.  He dealt with this on his own as he had been taught.

He is not yet 15.  He should not have to be getting up at 4:30am to fight with air getting into his body.  He should not have to feel the ramifications of a high blood glucose level.  He should not know what any of this means and how dangerous it can be. 

But he did. But he does. This is his life. This is his disease. This is part of growing up as a child with diabetes…and I still hate it.  

The old bait and switch!

Last night I laid in bed and realized that my son could easily be a used car salesman…any salesman. He could probably sell ice to Eskimos. 

Exam week for both of my boys is next week. I have said that I am glad that they live in two different homes because my stress level for both of them would be through the roof. For my oldest…well this is for all of the marbles. Its his final set of final exams in high school.  For my younger son, its his last set of exams before he officially begins his high school years. Either way, I will worry and I fret knowing that both of them can do well and praying that they won’t cave under pressure.

It was this mindset that took me into my son’s room last night. We went over his science information. He aced it. How was math coming along? They had had extra periods and he had a firm grasp of the concepts.  I asked him about social studies. He didn’t have any books to study with…he hadn’t bothered to bring them home yet but he swore that he knew what he needed to study. I told him to bring home books!

I then moved on to  diabetes care and his glucometer. “How have your readings been?”

“Pretty good actually.  Well, except for that last reading. That one was pretty high but I am sure it was an error. I think there was something on my hands.”

“Did you retest?”

“Yeah, but it still read kind of high.  There is no worries about my social studies Mom. Its all about World War Two and I know it cold.  I know everything there is to know about Hitler. He was born in April of 1889.  His mother died of breast cancer when he was 16 and his father was dead when he was 12….” and the conversation went on. He wowed me with his intricate knowledge of the life and times of one of the most evil men to walk our planet.  He continued right up until the time of Hitler’s suicide, highlighting salient points and noting theories such as his cruelty was driven by the damage syphilis had caused to his brain.

I left his room amazed and impressed. If he was right and this was the focus of his exam, well he will ace it! As my head hit the pillow I realized that I had been duped. I had fallen for the old “bait and switch” and swallowed it hook, line and sinker.  I never asked if he had checked his pump. I never asked if he had corrected. I never asked when the last site change was. He managed to move my mind away from the issue of why he was high. I just listened to the huge wealth of information that he had in his head with pride and blissfully left the room.

At 1:30am, I woke wondering if we would pay for me being snookered and my son would still be high.  Sure enough, Mr. 22 (400) was still rearing its ugly head!  I checked his pump and he should have changed his infusion site days before. I got my own revenge as I prepared his exposed arm and did a site change right there and then.

I stumbled back into bed and shook my head.  Yes, my son had managed to wow me with his knowledge of history and distract me from his poor diabetes care with the ease of the slickest of sales men.  He may need to rethink his career plans yet!

A Faulty Pancreas Lives Here

Last night I was sitting at the kitchen table with my youngest son. He was doing his math homework.  As we worked through the page, I began to get frustrated. He seemed to truly understand what he had to do but when pen went to paper the answers were just plain wrong. I had left him to do a few questions on his own.  When I came back, I saw that the answers were not correct and asked him how he came up with his responses.  He told me how he needed to figure things out.  The process was right but the results were a disaster. At this point I started thinking to myself if I should consider private tutoring for him, a friend of mine had done that for his troubled kid and it worked wonders, it was very much on my mind.

We joked as we went along that he must be out of range. He was making foolish mistakes. I chalked it up to rushing through.  As we progressed 14-7 equalled 5 and I knew that there was something seriously wrong!  He looked a little pale and finally he took it upon himself to test.  He was 19(345).

“That explains it! I think its time to take a small break.  Show me some of the other homework that you have done while we wait for you to come down.” I told him.

He got his other homework and a new infusion set. It turned out that his site change was due the day before. I had woke him up early that morning to change the site because he had gone up a bit overnight and I assumed the site was bad but being my son…well he didn’t do it. 

Each year I talk to parents and educators about children with diabetes in schools. Each year I mention this very thing–children who are hyperglycemic are cognitively impaired.  I have seen it is effects in my son on occasions before. Each time it happens it both amazes and scares me. 

You cannot see diabetes. You cannot “see” a high–well if you know him he might look a little off but still for the most part it is invisible to the naked eye. The average person would just assume my son was not overly intelligent.  An uneducated teacher would assume he just was not getting the concept, had not paid attention or had not studied. 

Each time this happens, I see the reality.  My son cannot fix this. Yes he can change his site but highs will occur for other reasons that he cannot control. Diabetes does not play nice.  It does not show itself to the outside world.  There is no gaping hole in his stomach area to show that his pancreas has failed.  It just quietly impacts his life.  It silently attacks and as parents we must continue to work to train those around our loved ones what these attacks look like and how to handle them.  Until there is a cure, we can only educate and pray for the best.

Diabetes Hangover

My son has complained of a “glucose tab” hangover after I treat him for a nighttime low.  This morning I realized that diabetes gives me my own kind of hangover.

Last night something happened that I never expected. I should have remembered that we are dealing with diabetes and it is never predictable but I was complacent.

I woke up at 1:30am ready to test until I realized that it was a bit too early. I rolled over to sleep for another hour.  The hour became an hour and a half but my son was still fine(8 or 136).  I felt confident that basal rates were working. He had been low the night before and I had made adjustments.  Life was good and I headed back to a peaceful sleep for a few more hours…or so I thought.

At 5am Larry woke me up.  He said that my son was up using the washroom. He never does that during the night unless there is a problem so Larry knew I should be getting up. I did and asked my son if he had tested. He had and was 17 (289).  What the??? His bg level had more than doubled in just two hours!!  Something was seriously wrong! I told my son to change his site.  This was way to fast of a spike. He told me it was fine , corrected and rolled over to go to sleep.

I went back to bed second guessing myself.  Did I miss a low at 1:30?  Was he alive thanks to a rebound? If he rebounded there would be hell to pay the next day with highs and fears of another low.  Was the site bad? Was the new pump failing already? I eventually managed to fall back to sleep, but not for long.

An hour later I awoke to the sound of vomit hitting the toilet bowl.  This was so not good! I had been right.  My son was not getting insulin.  The site must be kinked. Again, I got up and waited.  My son looked terribly pale.  I told him we needed a new site.  He had one in his hand.  

“I can’t believe I would be throwing up at 17.” he said.

I told him that he had probably gone up in the past hour.  We tested and he was now over 19 (+323). We chanced a correction on his pump and both went back to sleep for a few minutes.  At 7am I tested him again. He had dropped down to 14 (238) and said he felt a lot better. He was no longer a ghostly white so we decided he was okay to go to school.

I still am not positive as to what happened. His site looked fine when we took it out.  Despite a trip back to bed after my son was ready for school, I still felt out of sorts. The night continued to haunt me.  Questions plagued me.  Where had I gone wrong? As things ran through my head, I realized that like my son’s glucose hangover, diabetes gives me its own hangover.  It messes with my emotions and my physical being the next day and then some. Sadly there is only one fix for my hangover and that’s a cure for diabetes.