Whack A Mole

When my kids were younger I would take them to Chuck E Cheese often. We lived in Texas and the summers were hot so the days we didn’t hang by the pool we would hang out with the mouse. Yes it was a petri dish of germs. No I didn’t take hand sanitizer, might not have even required the kids to wash hands before eating. A favorite game was always Whack A Mole. All three of my kids loved whacking the mechanical moles and often we would race since there were two games right next to each other. There was something therapeutic about whacking those plastic heads repeatedly always trying to beat the game.

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It is no longer therapeutic. The moles are no longer cute plastic rodents with hard hats and a grin.

The moles are highs and lows, the game never ends and I don’t get any tickets to trade in for trinkets.

Also I am now playing three games at once. Are you imagining me dashing between three arcade machines with a mallet whacking heads? Oh and the mallet – it is always attached to a single machine with a short cord so often I forget which mallet I’m holding and find myself flat on my ass because I tried whacking a mole with the wrong mallet. (giggling yet? It’s ok – I find humor in it too because if I didn’t I’d need to be drunk off the cheap beer)

My kids are 15, 13, and 11. Hormones, puberty, outside play, missed boluses, sports participation, lazy day electronics, lack of any meal schedule, late nights, endless snacking, and more make the whack a blood sugar game all that more difficult.

Yesterday on a FB page for parents of kids with diabetes another mom was waging war on a stubborn high with her 14-year-old son. Multiple highs and multiple corrections with different insulin (MDI) and she and her son likely felt they were using a 19th century flintlock pistol to lay siege on an enemy using 21st century armor. At least that is how I felt between 10pm and now at 6:30am. In the FB feed when she first posted her concerns of repeated highs despite corrections I, like others, had said if it’s a pump it may be a bad site. If it is MDI it may be bad insulin. Any chance the child was sneaking food? This exchange took place long before my 13-year-old returned home from a babysitting gig and learned of his 432.

Of course he isn’t currently wearing his Dexcom so he didn’t realize. He had checked his blood sugar at 7pm and was in the upper 200s. He and the boys he was watching ate pizza (yes part of the issue I’m sure) and he bolused and corrected. I called him a bit before 9 and asked him how he was. He checked BS and was in the 400s. He corrected.  He returned home a bit after 10 and checked, still in the 400s. He corrected again with his pump thinking it was pizza related and went off to bed, well he is a 13-year-old boy and it was a Saturday during the summer so he corrected and went off to veg in front of his Xbox. A bit after 11 I was going to bed and asked him to check again, 512. What? New pump site, new insulin, correction, kisses good night, alarm set for 1am for me. 1am – 355 not a big drop for 2 hours. Another correction. 3am 279. 6:30am 224. Stubborn ass high for sure. A losing battle of Whack A Mole or laying siege to a heavily armored enemy with a flintlock. Either way I am left feeling defeated.

Every person and child with diabetes reacts differently to insulin – oh and there are different brands of insulin that work better in some than others. Teens have raging hormones that seem to taunt the best offensive line of diabetes management.

I think I may have strayed from my original intention of this post which was to describe what it is like trying to help 3 kids of different ages and genders manage diabetes. Different games of Whack A mole – trying to use the same mallet on all three games, etc. It is true – corrections like the ones my middle son completed would have likely corrected my youngest son with little difficulty – less hormones. The corrections would have also corrected my daughter easily on most days. Why is correcting highs in my 13-year-old son more difficult? Perhaps his pump settings such as his correction factor (how much insulin he gets to correct out of range blood sugars) needs adjusting – although we had increased the ratios just a few weeks ago.

I’m not sure this post has any redeeming qualities. I think I was mostly venting. But if you ever feel like you are playing an endless game of Whack A Mole perhaps you will find solace in knowing it is a game we all play at times and if you are a parent of a teen and the game is getting harder, it is normal. I hope you won’t make the same mistakes I have made and accuse your teen of sneaking snacks (although mine really does often sneak snacks but nearly always boluses for them). I have found the less I trust my teen to be doing the right things (how do we define the right things in a teen that wants to be normal?) the more difficult it becomes to help him manage his diabetes. When he is high and I try to help discover why he immediately goes on the defensive. That isn’t helpful to either of us. I have never punished my kids for high blood sugars and I’ve never rewarded them for in-range numbers. I commend them for checking and bolusing but that is about it. Still the temptation, especially towards my middle child, for me to say “what did you eat?” is a strong one. I have said it many times and accusing him (whether I was correct in my assumption or not) has built a wall of defense. I don’t need an additional wall of defense to negotiate while trying to battle the actual blood sugar.

Sigh. 3 kids with diabetes, two teens and one right on their heels.

Thank goodness for coffee, cookie dough ice-cream and the diabetes online community.

Avoiding Getting High At Van Halen

As a parent of children with diabetes I can choose to get angry at the occasional ‘totally avoidable’ mishaps or I can roll with it and try to fix a bad situation without criticism or blame. Sometimes I can navigate the crazy with ease other times I lose all self control and go all ‘Mommy Dearest’ on my kids*. Thankfully yesterday was more of a roll with it day.

Yesterday my daughter and I were heading off with friends to see the first of the Van Halen world tour 2015. The concert venue was just over an hour from my home. Earlier in the day my husbands colleague and his family were visiting for a BBQ. Since it was my husbands colleagues first time visiting I had begun preparing food and picking up the house early in the morning. The visit with the other family was very relaxing and enjoyable. Still with the food prep, house cleaning and then visiting I had left my daughter to prepare for the concert. I had asked her twice between 11am and 4:30pm if her insulin pump was charged and loaded. She said it was all good.

My daughter loaded the van with lawn chairs and blankets for the concert while I enjoyed chatting with my husbands colleague and his wife while the women’s soccer team was kicking butt in Vancouver. (seriously 4 goals in the first maybe 8 min!)

My daughter sat patiently  anxiously waiting for us to leave to collect friends and be off to the concert.

At 4:50pm I asked her again – “do you have an extra infusion set and supplies”.

Daughter: YES!

So we said our goodbyes to our guests, leaving them to watch the remainder of what was surly a fantastic soccer game.

We collected our friends and were off. 45 minutes into the drive the kids spotted a Dairy Queen and requested a stop.

The kids and other chaperoning adult went to DQ while I ran next door to Walgreens for Advil and water then walked over the DQ to meet up with the kids and get a tasty treat.

My daughter was already consuming a blizzard and fries when I arrived and ordered my perfectly shaped vanilla cone.

My daughter follows me out to the van to get her meter so she could check her blood sugar. She is 326. She pulls out her pancreas (insulin pump) to correct the high blood sugar and bolus for her treats.

Then I hear: “ah mom.”

My heart sank. Crap. I know what’s coming – ‘ah mom‘ is never the beginning of ‘you are the best mom ever and I was sure to be fully prepared for our adventure thanks to your reminders and support’.

Her next words: “I thought I had 66 units of insulin but I only have 24 and my pump wants me to take 23”

In my head: #&*@&%!#&@%!#&%*#!#$*@

I look back at Walgreens and say come on.

It is 6:02pm. The pharmacy closed at 6:00pm and the pharmacist high tailed it out of there with lightning speed.

We walk back to DQ. She boluses 13 units. Why 13? – I have no idea.

At DQ I post on a local people with diabetes FB page: “Emergency, anyone in blankety blank or near blankety? Out of insulin on our way to concert in blankety. Need syringe and insulin” If we couldn’t locate insulin and syringes we would be driving back home to get supplies – that would be 45 minutes to the house and then another hour+ back to the concert which would have made us substantially late.

Next I called the diabetes camp director – She knows everyone and if anyone could help it was her. (Volunteering for camp committees has it’s privileges – it is why I had the camp directors cell number – just so any camp families don’t wonder – why don’t I have the camp directors cell phone number?)

Within minutes after sharing our dilemma with the camp director she texted me that she located a family and the mom would be calling me.

Moments later I get the call. The family lives just 3 minutes from DQ.

A quick detour and my daughter had a vial of insulin and a package of syringes.

I am so grateful for all the Facebook comments, the camp director and the wonderful family who provided the insulin and syringes.

Back in the van my daughter drew up the additional 10 units of insulin she needed and injected, leaving the remaining 11 units in her pump to provide basal insulin while at the concert.

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While she was drawing up the insulin and injecting one friend took pictures while all three kids were laughing about ‘shooting up before seeing Van Halen’. I have mixed feelings about the humor but am also so grateful for friends who are supportive of my daughter.

She put the insulin vial and syringes in her bag to take into the concert. At the security check the security guy saw the syringes and was like ‘ahhhh’ and my daughter simply said she needed the needles for her diabetes. Meanwhile our friends were having to remove the caps from their water bottles and leave the caps at the security table – weird.

The concert was good and while the members of Van Halen are old they still put on a decent concert – finishing with Jump.

Watching my daughter and her friends jump as the band played and the lyrics rang out – “when I get up nothing gets me down” I said a little prayer of thanks for insulin, the diabetes online community, a phenomenal camp director and other diabetes families.

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*I have never beat my kids with wire hangers but I have considered wiping them with infusion set tubbing. (not really)

 

Solidarity

I’m not going to get into the details aside from saying a well-known ‘fitness’ company put out a parody graphic equating sugary beverages to diabetes. It was wrong. It was inaccurate. It was insensitive. It perpetuates the misinformation and stigma often related to diabetes. The diabetes online community was quick to react with a combination of anger and education. Sadly the company made the situation worse by suggesting they meant only one type of diabetes, not all types. It was not an apology and honestly made things worse due to increased misinformation and insults. It has also been written about by many much smarter and more articulate than myself. My post isn’t intended to educate people about diabetes, nor is it a call to action to send further tweets, letters, and FB comments to the fitness company. My post is a plea to all people with diabetes and those who love someone with diabetes to stand together.

If you are reading this you are likely already familiar with the large online presence of people with diabetes. While I don’t know the exact percentages of those who participate in the community that have Type 1 diabetes, Type 2 diabetes or Latent autoimmune diabetes of adults (LADA) – it has been suggested that the community is largely made up of people with Type 1 diabetes or parents of children with Type 1 diabetes. I’m not sure I entirely agree since many of those that I hold most dear are people with Type 2 or LADA and I met them via the DOC. Still the majority of the backlash towards the fitness company came from people with Type 1 and parents of children with diabetes and thus were heavily sided toward defending Type 1, sometimes at the expense of those with Type 2 or LADA. (I am ashamed to admit that my first tweet to the company also included a remark that said my 3 kids with Type 1 did not cause their diabetes)

I can’t speak for all parents of CWD but I can say “I’m sorry” to all my friends throughout the community. Again I can’t speak for all but I would be willing to bet the majority of those that only mentioned how Type 1 is not caused by sugar (Including Nick Jonas who told the fitness company to know the difference between Type 1 and Type 2) did not intentionally perpetuate the inaccurate portrayal of sugar causing Type 2 diabetes or that people with Type 2 or LADA caused their own disease.

I know that as a parent of cwd our first instinct is to educate the ignorant companies and individuals who lump all people with diabetes into one category and insinuate that they all caused their own diabetes by an unhealthy diet. For many of us when our child is diagnosed we are hypersensitive to all the general diabetes comments. Our instinct is to defend our children (and ourselves as their parents) against the never-ending misconceptions that we or our kids did something wrong to cause diabetes. That is good – we should be hypersensitive and should advocate and educate but not at the expense of our brothers and sisters in the diabetes world. While advocating and educating please don’t toss one type of diabetes under the bus.

All people with diabetes face the same health concerns, threat of complications, excessive cost burdens for testing supplies and prescriptions. All PWD think about their food choices at every meal and snack. Diabetes is a 24/7/365 disease regardless of the type. Diabetes often effects all members of a family regardless of who in the family has diabetes. PWD can and do all things that people without diabetes can do. People with diabetes come in all shapes, sizes, ages, ethnicities, and fitness levels. We are the same. Standing together will benefit all.

Next time you read something or hear something that is inaccurate such as “sugar equals diabetes” and want to respond please consider leaving out the Type when you educate, and simply say “sugar does Not cause diabetes.”

There are enough opportunities to educate without increasing the misconceptions of any type of diabetes.

No matter your Type – if you have diabetes (or care for someone with diabetes) you’re my type. Solidarity=progress for all.