Welcome back to life with diabetes!

The new pump is on. The old basal rates have been retrieved. All rates are now posted on a sticky note beside my computer on top of the “MOTHER” heart my oldest son made for me back when he was probably in Grade 5 or so. 

My youngest son arrived home yesterday.  Together we sat down and uploaded the new pump and decided to try something different–we put food into the menu section of the pump.  Its a “thing” that allows you to have the carbs for favorite foods right there. We added the important things like Big Macs and Tim Horton’s Smoothies.  He was then good to go.

I really wanted to look over his meter and see what he had (or hadn’t) been doing while he was away.  I decided to let him settle back into his own routine first.  I thought about not looking at the meter at all.  What was it going to tell me? 

It would probably tell me that he ran way higher than I would like. It would probably tell me that he wasn’t testing when he was supposed to. It would probably just elevate my blood pressure and frustrate me.  There was nothing that I could do about the past. I was best to just focus on today and go forward. 

That was in an ideal world but by now you should know that I am far from ideal.  I had to look. I had to know. 

Just before bed, I asked him to see his meter. Despite the fact that I was sure that he was out of One Touch test strips, he swore that he had used an old green One Touch meter while he was away and left it behind (convenient!).  To make life simple for me however, he had found an old log book and written down all of his readings!  What a great child with diabetes.   

The logbook showed readings from every day.  There was one low.  There were some highs with notes as to what had happened. There were a few readings in range.  

My son waited for my reaction.  I said that I liked that he had written everything down but sadly he had logged before and created every single reading. I was not so sure that I could trust this book either. Part of me felt terrible for saying that. Part of me knew that there was a very good chance that I was right to doubt him.  Part of me hoped I was wrong.  I wanted to think that he did test when he wrote down that he did. I want to believe that the readings were all correct.  The diabetes police inside of me said that while some readings were right, he most likely did not have enough test strips for two weeks of using that meter.  His readings were far from perfect but not as bad as I would think that they should have been for all of the sites he swore he lost (four site changes in one day) as well as a pump that was failing. 

He just shrugged. I don’t know if that was saying “well I tried to get it by you.” or “I logged, you don’t believe me. Whatever.”  I hope its the first. Either way, today is a new day.  Last night was a night of highs.  Welcome home diabetes! 

But its a LOT of work!

I know that I have said that I am not worried or fussing about my son’s upcoming A1c…and I’m not.  Its past. There is nothing that can be done.  The next A1c will only have my control for 2 out of 3 months. He will be on his own for one month while he visits with family and friends. This is traditionally his worst A1c of the year. I can provide hands on help for two of those three months though.

I have been logging daily for our clinic appointment next week. Perhaps, my plan to stop logging for the past few months was a bit premature.  As I log, I find mistakes, errors, and missed tests.  There is a lot of information to learn from.  It is also a lot of work. 

I can understand why adults with diabetes get burnt out.  There is so much there. There is guilt. There is frustration.  I think that its time that I really do continue with this however but I also know that I will get bored; I will get busy; I will get frustrated.  How do I expect my son to do this later on in his life? 

I expect it because I have worked so hard for so long to teach him. I expect it because its what keeps him alive. All of my work has to make some difference. It has to sink in…but its a lot of work! The benefit is a healthy child. 

I guess that last line says it all. Its all about keeping him healthy.  I will try to keep the logging up after his appointment. I will attempt to micro manage, to teach, to breath and not freak out. The last part will be my biggest challenge. 

Its so easy to get frustrated at the same mistakes. On the upside, during this week, every day has brought a new and unique mistake! I will have to focus on that. Learning,not harping. Working together, not creating a widening gap.  Doing this for all of the right reasons and keeping communication lines open. Breathing and perhaps more wine…yeah I can do this!    

The team!

I should have run over a meter

Last week was a bit of a muddle. I injured my foot and spent most of the week sitting on the couch going crazy. I hate being laid up but my foot was not happy if I used it.  As I sat, self-absorbed and frustrated, I really did not pay a lot of attention to diabetes.

I yelled out the normal “Did you test?”.  I asked what he bolused and helped to calculate meals. I hobbled out of bed each night to test. I failed at Reading Review Thursday and swore we would do it the next night, and the next night, and so on.  I didn’t keep track of when the next site change was due and sadly trusted my 14 year old to actually pay attention to the alert on his pump. Yes, I majorly failed as a parent of a child with diabetes and diabetes got its revenge.

I finally looked at my son’s pump after a bolus and decided to check when the next site change was due.  My son quickly grabbed his pump back and attempted to escape my limited grasp.  I somehow hauled him back and reviewed the screens.  The site change was FOUR days over due! I could not breathe. I wanted to beat him with his tubing. What was he thinking? Or not thinking? What the heck was I going to do to get him to remember?? 

I told him to change his site NOW! No games, no chats, no text. March his butt in his room and change that site before I put one in his tush! I was doing my best to breathe and allow him to live another day.  He had been high for the past few nights…now I knew why.  

I kicked myself.  I should not have allowed things to slide.  I should have been on top of things. I have been slack on a lot lately.  I had to pull myself together! The next thing was to review the readings. 

I had him bring out his meters and a sheet of paper. We were going to get down to brass tacks and review things. 

“Mom, we really can’t make a lot of changes.  My site was really old so the readings won’t be accurate.”

Thanks! I needed to be reminded of how we failed! I told him that I wanted to check things anyway. I looked at the first meter. It was his USB one.  This meter is still so neat but I couldn’t remember how we reviewed readings without sticking it into a computer. Finally we figured it out and I began my review.  I loved the highlighted highs and lows.  The readings were everywhere but the display was so cool that I was oblivious to much else. 

Next I moved onto the school meter. There were no readings. None. Nothing. Was he using a different meter? He brought out a second one. It had a few readings but something was seriously wrong. He swore he tested. I checked the dates on the meters.  We have a real issue with One touch Mini’s changing the date and time.  I know that they are supposed to be the most accurate meter on the market but this problem drives me insane. 

The meter was off…like by years! It had the time as two hours later than it should be, the year was 2010 and the dates was October.  How the heck was I supposed to go back and figure out what he really was and when? He had missed tests so I could not really even take three tests each day and guesstimate.  I was frustrated. 

We made a small change and I told him we were going to have to be way more on top of this. He had to test at school.  We had a problem but I couldn’t solve it without the data of those tests.  

As he left, I wanted to scream at myself. How could I be so slack? He is only 14 and he is a teen. He forgets. He gets lazy.  If I was on top of this days ago, I would have information and would have known that the meters were off.  I wanted to cry.  I wanted to yell. I should have run over a meter. That just may have helped. 

Instead, I promised myself that today will be better. I have circled his next site change on the calendar. I will try to be more proactive. I will work harder to be a better pancreas guide.  I have to. We aren’t allowed to quit.  

Reading Review Thursdays

Despite pretty good A1c’s, and a long standing obsession with logging, we have become very slack. As I have allowed my son to take over more and more of his disease, logging has become a thing of the past.  He hates to log.  Asking him to do it was worse than asking him to clean his room. I knew that he would never, ever, never log when he grew up and moved out on his own so why was I torturing myself?

They say that when you are raising children, you need to pick your battles. For years, I saw this as a very important battle. It had to do with the health of my son. Analyzing trends was important.  As I have gotten older and more tired, my perspective has changed. I still look at trends but now I bounce more off of him. 
“How are your lunch time readings?”
“Do you find that you are high before going to bed?”

and in return I get…
“Mom, that high before supper was because I just grabbed an apple a half hour ago.”
“Mom, I forgot to bolus that bowl of cereal before bed.”
“Mom, I think I over guesstimated that smoothie.”

This means that I have a general idea of what is going on and then ask if we need to make changes.  Now remembering full well that he had five days of “in range” readings over the holidays that included a 28, I only believe him so much. This has led me to rip off the “chicken Thursday” guy and create “Reading Review Thursday”.  It is the day when my son has to pass in all of his meters and we review.  I have a piece of log paper. I do the logging (its a lot less painful that way).  When I see bumps, I ask questions and look at his pump.

I have “Reading Review Thursdays” marked on my calendar so that I don’t make it “Reading Review…someday”.  We have to get back into some habits. I have to continue to use these times as teaching moments so Thursday it is! Now let’s hope I can stick to it!

Do my eyes deceive me?

Armed with a load of clothes, I head into the dreaded “boy cave” also known as my son’s room.  As I enter, I can hear that the XBox is already up and running and conversations have begun–he has been home for at least 15 minutes so I should not be surprised, right? Imagine my surprise, however  when I see a black tv screen and….my son with a pen in hand working on his log book!

After that brief minute when my heart skipped a beat or two I noticed that the screen was black because it was “loading game” but the log sheet was really out! He was actually going to fill it out…like with real information! What was going on?

A quick look back on the last twenty-four hours brought immediate understanding. This was not a spontaneous move towards maturity and taking care of his diabetes.  This was the result of Mom telling him sternly (I really didn’t even yell or completely lose it!) that all log sheets are to be completed on a timely basis with ALL required information provided OR the beloved XBox would be disabled until said son could do as he was asked.

Again, this was not met with exuberance and “Of course, Mom.  I apologize for being so slack lately.” It was met with teen sized attitude.  In our house the attitude is met with relative silence of mouth but exagerated actions. This time, the exagerated actions caused him more problems than he had anticipated. 

In his grumpy mode, he ignored the fact that he was told to either leave the garbage on the front deck or in the garage. Using his teenage wisdom, he felt that the garbage was to go out at that moment–in extremely high winds and a snow storm, rather than the next morning before school.  The result? The door being blown off his hinges and a quiet hush coming over the house as Larry and I both pictured having to buy a new door in the morning.  We were not pleased but remained eerily calm. He knew he was in trouble.  Accidents happen but if he had ditched the attitude and listened…well we would still have a door attached to its frame!
Thankfully, in sunny conditions, the door was able to be repaired.  I sent my son a text to let him know that I would not have to take the price of a new door out of his hide.  The result…Mr. Perfect Diabetes Son who logs when he gets home. Big price to pay for compliance.  Hopefully we can maintain this without any repeat episodes of the door removal incident.

My ideal glucometer

I am quickly going out of my mind. I know its a very short trip but I have been going through an ongoing battle with my son and I am losing it.  I am the logging queen. I must see numbers, readings, activity and food written down.  I want to get a visual with a pen. I want to be able to make marks and notes all over the page.  I want to look, calculate, examine and make decisions based on what I can see on pages of paper.  

My son is not a logger.  He is fine with testing, bolusing and will most likely grow up making changes based on what he knows or remembers.  He is much more relaxed and casual about such things.  This means that when Mom requires data to be written down its a battle of wills. He will put things off for days and days.  When he does finally sit down and start to copy information down he tends to miss a lot and take hours and hours to do.  My nerves get fried.  Life goes downhill fast. 

I have decided that maybe a great meter would be my answer.  I am getting bored of the meters we have.  We have a Contour but I don’t like using it at night because there is no backlight.  My son likes it because there is no coding and I admit that is a great selling feature for me as well.  I loved our Freestyle meters but they went through batteries so quickly.  The Nano allowed us to mark readings as post-meal or pre-meal readings but their awesome lighting also is a drain on battery power.  There is the Ultra Minis.  They come in awesome colors but again I have problems testing at night with them and hate how they suck up blood.  Someone suggested going back to the Ultra Smart.  I am thinking about it. It allowed us to input all sorts of great stuff. It had cool graphs that might work with my son. You could put in carbs and exercise.  The downside was it does not allow for the extra small bolusing that smart pumps now do.  I don’t know. I think someone should create a wonderful new meter for control freak moms and lax teens. 

The meter would have the “cool” features that make teens text day and night. Instead of texting they would be engaged enough to note bolus amounts and food intake.  It would let moms see trending and make basal or carb to insulin changes.  We would all be happy. The backlight and 3am testing would be a cinch. Batteries would not die after two months of real use.  It would not be the size of a suitcase.  It would not require coding.  Blood would be attracted to it and a small drop of blood would be all that was required. The meter would have great colors to further attract the kids and make parents smile.  They would be unique enough that you would want to take it with you everywhere. You would not lose it because you would just have to bring it along. 

Yep a meter with the appeal of an iPod or a cell phone.  Ah the wonderful dreams! Too bad we don’t have any of these things. Back to fighting over logging and grumbling about meters at 3am. 

Passing the reigns

Where does the time go? Its amazing how far we have come. Last year at this time, Liam was finally doing his first site changes. As you may remember, his doctor had ordered him to be doing this by his fall visit. The day before the said visit, he finally changed his site by himself. Now its old hat unless trying to insert in certain parts of his arms. At that point he tends to yell for Mom. He also tends to ask before jabbing a well used area.

At Liam’s fall visit, his doctor said that he had to take more control of his diabetes. He had to begin logging and looking at what is going on. Mom was terrified. He is so young to have all of this responsibility. What was the doctor thinking? He was thinking that it is better for Liam to make mistakes and learn now while Mom is there to hover over him than to make those same mistakes when he is off at university and Mom is nowhere to be seen. It made sense.

I am amazed and impressed at how well he is doing. Liam is not a big logger and I am sure that when this is completely up to him, he will never log another thing again. Mom is a big logger so until he is on his own he will log. Ah the power!

It is interesting to see him log though because I am seeing how much he has learned and understands. His log from this weekend for instance shows some major highs after a meal. He went up to the 20s (360+) and there is a note that says “forgot to add in syrup for pancakes”. I loved that he took the initiative to look around and see “why” was he so high and found a solution! My baby is growing up.

Before making any changes now, I also have him sit down with me. I try to do this at least once a week. We sit out his charts, I highlight the highs or lows, and then I ask Liam what he thinks. Do we adjust a basal rate or should we make a bolus change? He is usually pretty good about knowing what to do. We are even getting to the point of learning when the basal rate needs to be changed.

This entire concept still blows my mind–having a twelve year old responsible for so much. It scares me and then I realize that he has been watching all of this for almost ten years now. This has been his life. He has been learning for years. He has known since he was toddling around and trying to steal strawberries from the fridge that all of his food needed to be weighed and measured. He knows the carb factors for many foods and now has the scale and calculator handy every time he steals a cookie off of the counter.

We have come a long way. I never thought we would see a day when he could steal a cookie at anytime and eat it. Thank heavens for rapid acting insulin! He is in many ways a normal pre-teen. He is forgetful. He eats me out of house and home. He is special in many ways however. He has a lot to remember in his forgetfulness. He has to take over where his body has failed him. He must provide his cells with insulin. He must remember to test to keep himself in good shape. It is not an easy life but to watch him for the most part its nothing. Its amazing.


I was recently given an AccuChek Nano meter to try out as well as its software. I am old school. I like to see things written down in front of me. Computers crash. I lose files. I want hard data! I have to admit however that the logging break we have taken this summer and just looking at numbers in time frames on a screen does have a certain appeal.

I have had problems getting into the information at times. The set up process seemed to take years. Once I was in, the graphs were easy to read and adding information was a piece of cake. The downside is that I don’t have that information from the piece of cake he may have eaten. There is room but if I had it written down….well I might as well have used a paper log!

This sent me back to thinking about one of our old One Touch meters. It had everything…carbs, insulin, readings, exercise, the works. It is a bit large but there is a lot of data to be input. I was thinking that perhaps we should look at going back to it. This means that I would have to find the meter, the software, and the cables. The Nano has a nice infrared port. Life is simple.

Another problem for us is that we use a variety of meters. We have a separate program for the pump (which I rarely download and really should do this soon!) . I am thinking that one type of meter and seriously thinking about software could be a good idea for Liam. The problem is I like so many features of a variety of meters! As I said the One Touch with all of the bells and whistles is great but no backlight. The One Touch UltraMinis are great because they are so small but you can’t add data to them (pre meal, post meal). The FreeStyle Lite has no coding. Love that! The nano is easy to read and has some cool options.

I just need one meter that can satisfy all of my desires…oh and add in a good CGMS too please and I will never need to see a piece of paper and kill another tree again!