Our life with diabetes has evolved over the past three years. Our focuses, fears and concerns have morphed and matured. We no longer stress and stew over precision carb counting and the ever elusive “control” we covet but can never achieve and maintain. I never put dessert on hold to translate an Italian nutritional information label in an effort to obtain accurate serving size and carbohydrate content information anymore. I just wing it. It’s one of the perks of three years of carb counting. We’ve gotten good at guesstimating. I never consult any of my three copies of The Calorie King anymore. Oh happy day!
Bolusing for every meal, snack and unplanned treat is second nature now. Oh sure, it is still inconvenient at times, and other times its downright maddening. But performing the routine, pre-carb consumption blood sugar check, calculating the carbs, followed by a quick assessment of the situation to factor in any fat content, physical activity, insulin resistance ... blah-blah-blah, then an expeditious pressing of a couple buttons is something we can practically do in our sleep now (and sometimes, I dare say, we do just that!)
We no longer freak out over rogue, wee hour blood sugar readings. We usually know, or at least can wager a reasonably safe bet on the why. We check, mutter an expletive or two (thanking our lucky stars that Jenna is a sound sleeper), bolus to correct, set an alarm for two hours and get on with life. We don’t hold nightly meetings anymore to discuss what we may have done wrong at the supper bolus then discuss our approach for the next time we have whatever the offending meal was. We don’t pick apart the whole combo-bolus, how-much-up-front-and-how-much-over-how-long conundrum. It’s become fluent for us now - like studying a language in it’s country of origin for years - one gets used to the colloquialisms and subtle nuances of the language. Not that we get it right all the time; we have just resigned ourselves to the fact that always getting it right is a ridiculous goal to hold ourselves to. Getting it close now and then is more realistic. Expecting the unexpected and not having a clue why things sometimes go wrong is a way of life with diabetes. That’s just how D roles. It can be a real jerk that way. No sense beating ourselves up about it.
But with these issues fading into the background din of our life with diabetes, other new issues are slowly, quietly emerging.
Jenna was only just two at her diagnosis. She was always with me. I never had to worry about her going low or high away from my watchful eye. I was on it. Checker at the ready, like a gun-slinger with an itchy trigger finger, I was always poised to perform the ubiquitous check with lightening speed.
But she is five now. Not only has she had her first school experience, making it necessary for me to come to terms with entrusting others with her care and safety, she also wants to go outside and play with the neighbourhood kids.
Of course she does! She is a kid, after all. But with this comes other issues. The whole “Can I go to Lisa’s house to play, Mom? Her Mom says it’s okay” scenario has started to play out.
Now, to non-D folks this likely doesn’t seem like that big a deal. But to D-parents it strikes fear and anxiety in our hearts. Yet we don’t want to deny our children what all children have the inherent right to experience. We don’t want to be overprotective, but we know only too well how diabetes can sneak up and bite us in the ass when we least expect it. How can we be certain our child will be safe in someone else’s home if that person doesn’t have a sniff about diabetes and its jerk-face ways?!
There is so much to consider. Jenna doesn’t like drawing attention to her diabetes. I understand this. She wants to be like other kids. I get it. But, as much as Jenna doesn’t want to make diabetes a focus, she has surprised me with her awareness of the situation and her responsible approach to managing it. She may be only five years old, but it appears that she knows the importance of disclosure. This came as a surprise to me just today.
I was doing my best to allow Jenna the freedoms any five year old should have. She wanted to go with her big sister to a neighbourhood kid’s house for a while to play. I gave permission for them to do so. But as I watched her disappear inside a house that wasn’t ours, I knew I had to disclose Jenna’s diabetes to the Mom. I jogged up to the door where the Mom stood waiting for me and began my speech:
“I just want to let you know, Jenna has type 1 diabetes....”
“Oh yes. I know. She told me yesterday when the kids were playing outside.”
I was surprised to learn that Jenna would offer up this information on her own. She has scolded me in the past for doing such things.
I finished my spiel then turned and walked back to my house, went inside and closed the door. What no one knew at the time, was how hard it was to make that walk back to my house. Alone. Without my five year old diabetic child. Trusting a mom who only received a 30 second summary of the situation to identify my daughter’s need for intervention, should that need arise. It helped that Jenna’s older sister, who has proven to be excellent at spotting symptoms in the past, was with her. It also helped that the house she visited was just steps away from ours. Yet it was still an unsettling, foreign feeling to leave her there.
But I did it.
I made up my mind I would return within half an hour to perform a blood sugar check. And as I went to the kitchen in my suddenly, unnaturally quiet house to make myself a cup of tea, it occurred to me; Jenna is starting to take ownership of her diabetes. She isn’t ashamed of it. She just doesn’t want it to be the main focus. She wants some control over the flow of information. This is a good sign. I have always been concerned about Jenna being embarrassed or ashamed of her diabetes which could prompt her to hide it. Nothing scares me more, as she gets older, than the thought of her being around people who don’t know what to do should she require someone to act quickly on her behalf to thwart a low.
Today gave me reason to believe that Jenna is developing a healthy view of her diabetes. Today renewed my faith that Jenna will be okay. Today gave me hope.