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. 

Mom’s Revenge

I heard my bedroom door bang open and lights suddenly filled my room. My youngest son was standing over me thrusting his pump into my sleeping face. 

“What does this mean?”

“Its telling you how many carbs you need to correct your low. Are you low?”

“No I’m high.”

Now I was puzzled. What the heck did he mean that he was high when the pump was telling him to eat? The answer was relatively simple. It turns out that he was higher still earlier in the evening. He had corrected and now the pump felt that he was dropping way too fast and he needed a lot of carbs to cover the drop.

I told him not to worry about it. I would try to wake up and test him in a few hours. 

“A few hours!!!! Are you kidding? I could be dead by then!!!” my son’s pitch quickly escalated to panic and I was mildly amused.

“You won’t die.  You wake up to your lows now remember?” 

“I woke up to a few! It was a fluke!! You can’t risk my life because I might wake up! You have to stay awake. You have to test me!!!” 

Yes, I was enjoying torturing him.  He never takes diabetes seriously. He rarely ever shows concern about any diabetes related emergencies (or much else actually).  This was an entire new spin on a disease that we have lived with for too long. Normally it was me freaking out at him! 

Finally, I felt bad for him (and actually began to wonder if the pump could be right and we were heading for a serious drop).  I told him to have a sandwich and not bolus for it.  I would test him later.

He stomped off to the kitchen and got some food. I then heard him head back into his room where he continued his tirade with his older brother as his new audience. I could hear him stating that he could die and his brother had better stay awake because his mother wasn’t! And did he mention that he could DIE!

I am pleased to state that he did not die.  The sandwich he ate kept him up through any unforeseen peaks in his insulin.  I didn’t get a lot of sleep and but we both made it through another sleepless night with diabetes!

Nightmare illness

As promised, here is a post that was originally written back in June of 2009….

It all started last night a little after 9pm. My son had been playing with his friends. He and a friend came in and grabbed a freezie. My son soon came back to me saying he felt a little ill. That was when it began. He ran for the toilet and promptly vomited enough for 10 people! He had it everywhere. I was washing the floors, the walls and every surface in between.

When he was done, I told him to test and check for ketones. His blood glucose level had been in range but something had to have caused this. Where was the Precision meter? We tore apart all of our diabetes drawers. I dug in cupboards. We pulled apart junk baskets. Finally I found more than just empty meter cases and my son was able to test for ketones. They were only trace. That was not our problem. I gave him gravol, his friend went home and my little boy headed for the couch.

It didn’t take long before he was sound asleep on the couch. I quietly worked and hoped that he would be fine by the time I had to go and pick up his older brother from a teen dance. I heard a noise and looked to see if he was okay. He wasn’t. He was on his back, hands over his mouth and vomiting once again but this time he was keeping it all in his body. I was terrified. I had to force him on his side and hold him there. He kept wanting to roll back and keep in the vomit. It was up his nose and all over himself. I held on to him and let him throw up all over the floor. It was easy to clean but he kept telling me that he could not move. I was more and more scared. Finally the vomiting stopped. I had him sit up. He was very disoriented.

I ran a tub for him and wondered if I would have to bathe him. He was fine by the time it was done. He cleaned the vomit from his body and his hair while I cleaned another room. He decided that the was starving when he was done. I gave him a cracker and more gravol. He went back to sleep on the couch.

When it was time to leave I tried to get him to get dressed. He was still pretty out of it. We put a blanket, pillow, bucket, and rags in the back of the car and prepared for our car trip. As I started the car, I could hear the back door open and he began to vomit again. I stayed there and waited for him to be done. I wanted to cry. Was this ever going to end? My son wanted to stay at home but I could not leave him alone by himself. I was terrified that he would throw up on his back again. I was also going to be awhile and was not leaving him alone.

We made the trip with all of the car windows open. He slept like a log and all seemed okay. We got home and he wanted to eat. I had said if he could make the trip without being sick then I would let him have a cracker. He tested and he was 3 (54). I gave him sugar water instead. I needed something that he wouldn’t throw up and was pure sugar. It didn’t help. He fell asleep but stayed low. I decided to take a chance and try glucose tablets. He ate them but he didn’t go up. I set a temporary reduced basal on his pump. Still no upward movement. I finally suspended his pump. Still nothing. More glucose and finally a cracker. He had to go up eventually…and he did. When he reached 4 (72) I went and laid down for an hour. We were now at well after 3am. I set my alarm and checked him again. He had moved up to 5 (90). Back to bed I went with my alarm set for another 2 hours. My son was sleeping on the couch. I had propped him up so he could not sleep on his back.

About an hour later I heard him again. He was in the bathroom throwing up. He finished and came into my room to sleep. I got another gravol for him. I was hoping this would eventually start to work! He instantly fell back to sleep. I dozed. With each turn he made I was awake and certain he was throwing up again. He did vomit again at 6am. He had a bucket beside him but little left to vomit. I was exhausted. He slept like a log. His bg level had not gone over 10(180) all night. I could not believe it.

By 11:30am he was awake and looking for food. I gave him some toast and told him to see how that worked. He no longer was that lovely shade of green so I hoped for the best. He said he felt perfect. By 1pm he was ready to go over to his father’s for the night. I called to check on him. He has been perfect all day. I am so glad for him but boy am I ever beat!

Its the bird’s fault

Last night was a lazy night after a busy week.  We were getting ready for some popcorn on the couch and my son was testing his blood in his room. Suddenly I heard a huge crash! I went to see if he was still alive.  He swore he was and that he had just tripped–no big deal.

I trusted that all was okay and headed back to the popcorn and a phone call to my mom.  As I was on the phone, my son calmly shows me his glucometer…1.3(23).  I tried not to panic as I followed him into the kitchen, told him to drink that juice pronto and sit down for heaven sakes!!  I ended my call and continued to watch him as he sat in the living room.

“Are you okay? Do you feel that low? Are you sure you are okay? Do you really think you are 1.3 or do you think its meter error? Are you okay?”

“Yes Mom, I am okay.  Yes I think I am low but no I don’t feel that low, just low.”

“Do you think that the meter is wrong? Should we check?”  I am praying for 15 minutes to pass quickly and am mentally reviewing where all of the glucagon kits are just in case.

“I’ll grab another meter to retest.” 

My son came back with his AccuChek Nano and attempted to put strips for his Bayer Contour meter in it.  I explain that its not going to work and fear that he really is as low as the meter said! We got out his LifeScan meter and test on it  as well as the Contour that had produced the 1.3.  He was back in range and the meters had similar readings.  Larry was shocked that he was back in range that quickly.  I explained that there still could be meter error in the 1.3 reading but my son had also just chugged back two big glasses of orange juice before sitting down in the living room.  The aggressive treatment most likely stopped any further drop and brought him up nicely. 

As I worked to breathe again my son explained that the 1.3 was not the first reading he received when testing. The first reading just said “LO”.  What the?????? Holy crap child! There went my breath!  “LO”  and he was still walking?!? There had to be a mistake but still “LO”!!!??? Holy Hannah!! I think that there was a reason that he only told me that little tidbit after he was back in range.  He knew the panic that that would instill.

Once again, I tried to get back into recovery mode. My son was fine. He had not seized. He was back in range.  This has not happened in his sleep.  All was good.  I finally asked him to help me to figure out how this had happened.

“Do you think that you messed up a carb count? Is your basal off? Do you think it still was meter error and you weren’t nearly that low?”

“I was probably at about a 2.9 (50) rather than in the one’s.  I think the problem was with the bird.  I think he scratched out the wrong number.” 

I looked at him and began to laugh.  “The bird?” 

“Yeah, the little bird inside the glucometer.  You know? The one that takes the blood, figures out the reading, scratches it on a card and then it appears on the display screen.”

I was weak from laughing. Larry thought we were even more strange than normal.  I tried to stop laughing long enough to explain.  “Remember the Flintstones? All of their “electronic” devices had little birds and creatures inside that were really doing the work.  He figures that the bird inside the glucometer made a mistake.” 

Larry got it but still thought we were crazy.  I was amazed at my son’s insight and ability to completely change the mood of the evening.  I can still see that little bird in the meter. Larry told my son to get a new bird.  I just wonder where I managed to get that kid!