I can socialize in type 1 circles and, for the most part, fit right in. I know the jargon; I understand the disease; I have first hand knowledge of what it takes to manage it day and night.
But the one thing I don’t know is how it feels to be off-the-charts high or crazy-ass low. I can imagine all I want but at the end of the day, I have a working pancreas that keeps my blood sugars in pretty tight check. So, I can’t relate to the crippling, confusing and emotionally devastating effects of a 2.1 blood sugar or the exhausting physical stress of a blood sugar of 24 with ketones.
I have some feeble points of reference to draw from. Like most people, I have gone too long between meals or overindulged and suffered the repercussions. Like the time I binged on a bag of Jelly Belly jelly beans I had rationalized buying for treating Jenna’s lows (in spite of the fact that at any given time I have a fully stocked arsenal of carb tabs available for just such instances.) I ate so many jelly beans that I felt decidedly ill afterward and thought it might be interesting to check my blood sugar. I believe I clocked in at 8 point something. Definitely elevated but a far cry from the teens that Jenna experiences several time a week. And by no means could it even come close to the feeling of a twenty-something reading, which isn’t nearly uncommon enough.
If I knew how Jenna felt in states of hyper and hypoglycemia I might be better armed to identify the signs sooner in some instances. It wouldn’t be that much of an issue if my diabetic child was older by, say 5 years or more. Then she might have a little more insight into her physical status. She would be more skilled at verbalizing how she is feeling. Her ability to identify physical symptoms as a manifestation of crappy blood sugar control would be better honed. But as it stands, I am at the mercy of non-verbal, behavioural signs to tip me off to an out-of-range blood sugar.
I wish I could say that I’ve never misread the signs as being merely typical four year old antics—that I’m always cognizant of the possibility that her impish behaviour could be a direct result of a plummeting or sky-rocketing blood sugar and that, at the onset of less than angelic behaviour, I nip off to retrieve the meter and perform a check.
I really wish I could say that.
Usually I can connect the dots fairly quickly and surmise that Jenna’s reluctance to get dressed and brush her teeth while she sprawls, uncooperatively on the floor could be a low.
More often than not I can identify an angry, out-of-the-blue outburst ending in a box of crayons being thrown at an impressive velocity across the room to be a high blood sugar careening out of control.
But there are days when I get caught up in the energy and frustration, when the symptoms aren’t quite so glaring, and I miss it, doling out a consequence, such as time on the thinking chair, without a second thought. Only after my own frustration has abated, allowing the significance of Jenna’s pale complexion to sink in, do I make the connection and race for her meter. And I don’t need to tell you how I feel when the number staring back at me confirms that Jenna’s behaviour had far more to do with physical discomfort secondary to glycemic chaos than typical preschooler antics.
I try to make it a policy to check Jenna whenever I’m in doubt. Because those rare occasions when I’ve missed it are still too many for my liking.
But I’m learning not to blame myself for these lapses in spot-on D management. It’s not like diabetes has a hidden code that, once cracked, will forever-more make D a cake walk. This is one puzzle that refuses to be pieced together. Just when you think you’ve figured it out, the rules change.
As Leighann of D-Mom Blog once told me in a comment to another blog post I wrote, think of all the times we get it right. And truthfully, the fact that all those times we get it right far outweigh the times we don’t is pretty remarkable, given the unpredictable nature of diabetes.
This disease is such an SOB. I have beaten it to a messy pulp a million times in my mind, mostly for the suffering it has caused my child. But also for the heartache my husband and I have endured and will continue endure until our last breath. As incredible and joyful as parenthood is, it can be just as difficult at times. Throw type 1 diabetes in the mix and the stress and worry are compounded.
Kerri posed the question on her blog post yesterday, If you could change one thing about having diabetes, what would it be?
Easy. Without question. I would change places with my daughter and take on this disease myself.