Saturday, October 30, 2010

A Special Halloween Tradition

I admit, I was very anxious the first Halloween with D.  Even though Jenna was rocking her pump for almost two months prior, it was still pretty tense for me.

What if she goes animal on me and starts ripping into the candy like a sugar-crazed...well...KID! 

The thing is, it didn’t happen like that at all.  Jenna was just like most kids and thoroughly enjoyed the actual act of trick-or-treating.  She wasn’t focused on the candy in the least.  At least, not until we wrapped up the trick-or-treating part of the program.  And after a quick, post-haunting check revealed a low blood sugar, she enjoyed several pieces of candy as we made our way back home.  Besides, I find candy in small amounts is pretty easy to deal with.  It’s the burgers, pizza, pasta and french fries that give us the most grief with regards to glycemic control.

But candy is still candy and although I firmly believe kids need to be allowed to pig out on junk now and then, I like to limit the amount consumed.  Halloween and Easter candy is usually around for months after the fact because it is metered out as after-meal treats.  So reducing the overall amount consumed is a good thing.

For several years now, even before the big D came a knockin’, I have employed a little help from Charlie Brown and used the Great Pumpkin concept to help minimize the amount of junk my kids consume.  Here’s how it works in our house:

Once home from trick-or-treating we pour out the candy bags and my girls have fun sorting and examining the night’s pull.  This is when my husband and I take the opportunity to check all the treats for safety purposes and to perform a little quality control, of course!

After the scoping...uh, I mean....sorting of the treats, we ask our girls to make some decisions as to which goodies they want to swap for non-candy treats from the Great Pumpkin.  The more candy they are willing to part with, the greater the trade!  Often it ends up being close to half the night’s haul.  They then place these treats into a special bowl for placement by the front door of our house.  The Great Pumpkin visits sometime in the night and makes the swap.  The next morning my girls race to find a few fun items for each of them such as a new video, a toy and a book in place of the candy!  Another great item to include, as a friend of mine suggested, is a new toothbrush!  I think that’s an awesome idea and I’m going to...uh, I mean... the Great Pumpkin is going to include one as part of the trade for each of my girls this year.

The Great Pumpkin usually leaves a letter of thanks for the great trade and bids them farewell until next year when he hopes they can do business again.  My girls enjoy this tradition very much and are only too happy to divvy up their goodies.

The only question I haven’t been able to answer is what the Great Pumpkin does with all that candy.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Before Another Child Is Lost

The unthinkable has happened.  Again.

The unfathomable has happened and we are all left reeling from the reality of what we face.  Every.  Single.  Day.

The unbelievable has happened and a family I’ve never met but have so much in common with occupies my thoughts and my heart.

The unspeakable has happened and I, along with countless others in the diabetes community weep tears of grief, pain and anger.

The unimaginable has happened and mothers and fathers of type 1 diabetic children are left to hug our children tightly as we are snapped back into the sombre and sobering realization that there, but for the grace of God, go any one of us.

We all say, I can’t imagine what they, the parents, are going through.  But the truth is, it is only too easy to imagine the heart-wrenching, oppressive pain and grief they must be feeling.  We were faced with the reality of what could happen when we learned about the intricacies of managing our children’s type 1 diabetes.  Insulin is a double-edged sword.  It gives life but it can just as easily take it away.  And we don’t have the luxury of being able to say,  it could never happen to us.  We know only too well how life has a way of dealing out the unexpected.  We have been burned before.

You see, there was a time when most parents of children with type 1 diabetes didn’t believe a serious, life-threatening illness could strike our children without warning.  Not our child.

And then one day it happened.

We are too wise to hide our heads under that cover of naiveté.

And so, when we hear of a family who is suffering the worst loss imaginable, we all know it could happen to any one of us.  It is what bonds us — perfect strangers — in a very real and profound way.
We understand one another and what we go through every day.  The reality of what we all face.

What we need to do is find a way of sharing this reality.  We need to figure out how to impress upon the public the urgent need for a cure.  Because our children don’t look sick.  They look just like every other child.  Most days people wouldn’t even know that our children are usually feeling the exhausting effects of erratic blood sugars.  People would never guess that they are constantly at risk of overdosing on insulin.  People don’t think about the long term complications our children face because of type 1 diabetes such as heart disease, hypertension, peripheral vascular disease, vision loss, limb amputation, neuropathy and the list goes on.

And people aren’t aware of just what is entailed in managing type 1 diabetes and the constant monitoring required,  from minute to minute, hour to hour, day and night, to keep our precious children safe.  To keep our babies alive.

Blog.  Talk.  Write.  Answer questions.  Encourage discussions.  Be out there.  Test in public.  Don’t hide the minutia of diabetes management.  Encourage your children to answer questions from their friends.   Suggest speech topics that involve diabetes.

Raise money.  Raise awareness.


Don’t be quiet about this disease... loud!

We need a cure.

Before another child is lost.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

How Does It Feel?

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.

I can’t.

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.

Friday, October 1, 2010

D-Feast Friday!

Here’s a recipe that has been in my sights to make for some time.  Now that Fall has arrived I can’t think of a better time to fire up my oven and roast up some squash, apples and garlic to make this fragrant and flavourful soup.  So this is what’s on the menu this weekend at our house!  Care to be adventurous and try it with me?

Roasted Squash & Apple Soup

3 lbs squash
2 medium apples, halved and cored
1 head garlic
4 cups chicken stock
Salt and pepper to taste
Pinch of nutmeg
Sprigs of fresh thyme for garnish

Cut squash in half, scoop out seeds and place cut side down on a parchment lined baking sheet.

Cut garlic head in half and place cut side down with squash on baking sheet.

Place apples cut side down on baking sheet as well.

Bake at 350º for 35-40 minutes.

Scoop squash and apples from skins and place in saucepan.  Squeeze roasted garlic halves from their skins into saucepan as well.  Add 3 cups of the chicken stock and with an immersion blender, blend until smooth.  Add more stock to achieve desired consistency.  Heat then add salt and pepper to taste.  Add nutmeg.

Garnish each serving with a sprig of thyme, if you are so inclined.

Serves 6