Thursday, February 28, 2008

Field Trips

This week Daniel brought home two different permission papers for field trips. One is to the Chesapeake Bay, the other is a physics field trip to Six Flags (yeah, right, just an excuse to ride the roller coasters).

I filled out the forms, an activity that takes longer than it used to last year, because there's lots of medical info to add.

I feel funny about signing off on the trips. I offered (enthusiastically) to chaperon them both because of "Daniel's medical condition." I'm so torn. Part of me wants him to travel the world like Amylia, because diabetes should in no way limit his activities. And part of me wants to reattach the umbilical cord so that he can't stroll more than a certain distance away from me and my desire to manage his disease FOR HIM.

This is what I imagine for the Six Flags trip: I have images in my head of him riding the roller coaster, lifting his hands over his head in glee as he is flung at great speed down an awesome hill. I can see his diabetes kit flying up above his head and, since it was not zipped properly, I see the needles, glucose monitor, insulin pen, and all the other small pieces spraying out in an arc above the park only to rain down somewhere in the toddler section.

I need to chaperon only so I can be the pack horse. Oh, and of course Six Flags says that you are not allowed to bring any food into the park. When I looked online at the food choices available, there was nothing that stood out as celiac safe. I did find a statement where they say you can bring in food if the person can show they have special dietary needs, and you must check your food with Security on the way into the park. Yes officer, this bread is gluten-free.

The Chesapeake Bay trip has no food issues (bring your own), but I have to hope that the bg monitor doesn't end up swimming with the crabs.

Yes, I'm allowing Daniel to go on the trips. I hope I can chaperon at least one of them. Baby steps. These are my baby steps. One day he may go off to college, and I better learn to let him stand on his own two feet by then.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Daniel's Birthday

Here in the mid-eastern part of the U.S., the crocuses always make their grand appearance for Daniel's birthday. If it had been a sunny day today, they would have opened up their cheerful faces to the sun. I guess that will wait until tomorrow!

Fifteen years and one day ago, my husband woke up and told me about a funny dream that he had. He said that a high school friend of mine had come to him in his dream and told him that she knew about these things, and that baby was coming tonight.

At the time we were living in Saudi Arabia, where my husband worked for a Saudi company. We lived on a compound in a nice house with a wacky kitty. That was February 25th.

I told him that was ridiculous. "What does she know about babies anyway," I said. "She's never had any. If it had been your grandmother, coming from the great beyond to let us know about the baby, that would be one thing. But no. Anyway, the baby isn't due for another month."

That day was a Thursday. The weekend there was Thursday & Friday. We had an ordinary day, and we had lunch together. Then my husband drove me over to a friend's house for a little get together. I found out right before walking in the door that it was actually a surprise baby shower (someone had dropped their invitation on the sidewalk!). Not only was it a surprise shower -- it was a surprise baby shower LUNCHEON. But I had already eaten lunch. But the lady who threw the luncheon made so much food -- it was so fancy -- and she was Greek and the tables were filled with stuffed grape leaves, moussaka, spanikopita, tiropita, lamb kebob and yogurt... you've never seen so much food. There were about 30 ladies there... and a beautiful home made cake that looked like it came from a fancy bakery with pink & blue baby booties made out of frosting on top!

So I had to eat. Again. The hostess made me a plate of food and had me sit at the table of honor. It was so good, so delicious, and I thought I was going to die. I was 8 months pregnant, and I could only eat little bits at a time because my stomach was so squished. But I persevered, and was so thankful and grateful for all these lovely women, these new friends who gave me a shower when I was so far away from home & mom & other relatives & my old friends.

But my goodness, my stomach hurt after that. I smacked my husband when I got home and asked him how he could have allowed me to eat lunch when he knew I was headed to a luncheon? He just didn't want to give it away. I couldn't eat dinner that night (Matt had leftovers from the party) and we took a long, long walk so I could work off some of that food.

I was pretty tired that night. Put on my pj's, and got into bed. Just after we turned out the lights I felt/heard a *pop!* I sat up. "Oh! OH!" I said. I couldn't say anything else. I had never experienced it before, but I knew then that my water broke. When I was finally able to get the words out & tell Matt, he went into action. Here I thought that I would be the calm one and he would be the typical crazy male trying to get ready for the delivery of his child... but he was methodical. He got our list, packed the bag, called a neighbor to see if we could stop by and get a camera because ours was broken (and we thought we had another month before we had to be ready for delivery). We went to the hospital (about a mile up the road) where they told me that I wasn't leaving without a baby.

I was scared. Partly because this was happening a month early, and partly because another lady in my lamaze group had given birth early and her baby died a day after it was born. Once we got to the hospital and I could hear the heartbeat I felt better. But it was a long night.

My contractions were really mild. In fact, they were going nowhere. So in the morning, the doctors said they needed to induce the baby, since the water already broke. A little pitocin later, we went from zero to 10 cm in a couple of hours (OUCH!) and out came Daniel, wrinkled, just under 6 pounds, no hair and jaundiced. He was beautiful.

After that I believed my husband was actually psychic or something. He's still pretty good with hunches. Just don't ask him for lottery numbers! But we did win the grand prize -- a great kid -- smart, funny, caring, tolerant... and in this last year with his diagnoses of diabetes and celiac, also brave, strong, and capable.

Happy Birthday, Daniel!

Monday, February 25, 2008


It's been a busy weekend with my in laws visiting and celebrating Daniel's (almost) 15th birthday. I've been away from the keyboard for a while. But I had to write about Wednesday, the pit in my stomach, the flashback.

Wednesday I went down the hill with Nora to Dominic's bus stop. The bus came along at the normal time, and our neighbor Crystal got out. The bus driver, Mr. Buck, looked in the rear view mirror. "Dominic!" he called. Dominic is sometimes a slowpoke getting out of the bus. "DOMINIC!" Nothing. "Hey, kids! Is Dominic back there?"

No. Dominic is not on the bus.

Mr. Buck said, "Look, he probably just missed the bus. Why don't you call the school, I'm sure everything is okay." I ran up the hill with Nora cursing the fact that this one time I forgot to put my cell phone in my pocket (Nora was saying, "why wasn't he on the bus? where could he be? do you think he got off at the wrong stop? And I had to tell her to stop talking before my brain exploded.)

I called the school and Dominic was right there in the office. His teacher thought he was a walker that day (that's another story), so he went to the walker door. When no parent came to claim him, he was brought to the office. It all turned out okay, just as it did 9 years before...

...when Daniel was 5 years old and in kindergarten. School was released early because there was an awful snowstorm. I waited at the window because I could see the bus coming from there & run out to the stop easily. Nora was 2 at the time, and although I don't remember why, maybe she was sick, I didn't want to have her standing out in the snow waiting like we usually did.

The bus was late, late, late. Finally, I see some kids from the bus stop walking by, but the bus was nowhere in sight. I called out the door to one of them asking where Daniel was. "I don't know," was the reply. Mind you, I'm questioning a 2nd or 3rd grade kid... "Was he on the bus?"
"Yes. I think he got off somewhere else."

"You think or you know?"

"I don't know!"

"Why didn't the bus come?"

"The driver said she couldn't make it up the hill."

So I went into the house & got my coat. I told Nora to stand at the bay window and DON'T MOVE and watch for mommy. I ran down the street in the direction the direction the kids came from calling Daniel's name. I saw no one. He just wasn't there. I ran back to the house (Nora was rooted in place, good girl) & called the school. They put me on hold while they checked out what was going on. It seems there was a substitute driver that day, and she was having trouble negotiating the neighborhoods. She did not make it to all the bus stops. She did not know who Daniel was, and had no idea where he got off the bus. The bus driver's administrator told me that they would drive back through the route looking for him and that I should stay by the phone.

I paced for about 2 minutes. Fuck that. My child was lost and no one knew where he was. He didn't know his way through the neighborhood, and even if he did, it was snowing hard enough to be disorienting. I entered full freak out mode. I bundled up Nora and was prepared to go street by street through all the local neighborhoods. I was walking out the door when the phone rang. It was a neighbor of mine from a few streets over. Her first words to me were, "I've got him."

Daniel had gotten off the bus with a friend of his. They knew that the bus wasn't going to the correct stops, so he decided to get off with Gabbie so they could be together. A 4th grade girl led them to Gabbie's normal stop.

My neighbor drove Daniel over to our house. I sobbed in relief, hugged him, and then gave him a stern lecture about getting off the bus at the correct stop.

And last week, even though everything was resolved with Dominic very quickly, my stomach hurt the rest of the day, just from the power of that flashback. It hurt until I went to yoga and could work out the knots.

It's so scary to lose your kid.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Hide the Lettuce

The nutrition class we attended before Daniel was allowed to use the insulin pens was informative, but other than learning even more about counting carbs than we knew before, there wasn't much new information in there for us. I've really made an effort over the years to get my kids to eat a healthy diet. Fast food is a rare event, mainly if we are traveling long distances and it is the only available rest stop, or if there simply isn't time to put together some sort of meal at home and we have to get somewhere because of an activity.

But really, how often is it really impossible to put together food at home? It's true that before Daniel's diagnoses, I fell back on the store-cooked rotisserie chickens for a quick meal or a couple of dishes from the local Chinese restaurant. But I can't do that anymore because of the threat of gluten. 99% of our meals are now made from scratch.

I've been lucky with Daniel, though. He's always been a great eater. Except for a short time when he was 2 and lived for a couple of months on either pancakes or cream cheese & jam on crackers, he's had an adventurous palate. But one thing he hasn't fallen in love with are salads. Okay, it took me a while to fall in love with salad as well when I was a kid. I kind of took it one vegetable at a time. Cucumbers. Tomatoes. The palest, crunchiest, iceberg lettuce. I don't know how many years it took for me to start craving the darkest green types of lettuce, but once I headed down that road I never looked back.

The thing is, for a diabetic, it's a really good idea to like salads. Salads can fill you up without carbing you into sugar spike land. The vitamin & fiber benefits are obvious. So how can I teach Daniel to eat salad? There is only one way. Cover it with meat. And, of course, add a sprinkle of cheese.

I made Daniel a "taco meat salad" tonight (minus the actual taco part). Under the meat & cheese is a nice pile of mixed greens, cukes, tomatoes, peppers, & carrots. He ate the whole thing, with only minor complaints about the lettuce. My master plan is to slowly, over time, alter the meat&fat to lettuce ratio until there are more greens than meat. By then his taste buds will have gotten used to -- even looked forward to -- the healthy crunch.

That's my plan. I'll let you know how it works.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Two Front Teef

OKAY, Mr. Orthodontist Man... we made some room!! Start planning your invoice now!

Those other two on the top that you can see -- they are loose, too. Yikes!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Pin Cushion

I had acupuncture yesterday (for the first time) in a continuing effort to rid my elbow of tendonitis.

There is a stark difference in the practitioner/patient relationship in eastern vs. western medicine. When I originally called my primary care physician, I couldn't even get in to see my doc, so I had to see the P.A. She talked to me for 5 minutes, touched my elbow in a couple of places, and told me I had tendonitis. I should take ibuprofin and ice it, and if it still hurt in a week I could call a different doctor to get a cortizone shot.

I really didn't want to get a cortizone shot. I'm not squeamish about needles (thank God, right? How could I deal with Daniel's diabetes if I had that problem?). I just don't think it is the best idea to inject that stuff into your joints because once you head down that road you just can't go back again. I don't want to rely on cortizone shots to reduce pain, so I thought I'd look into other methods. A good friend of mine had success with acupuncture for pain, so I wanted to try that route. But first... a call to the insurance company. Aetna's website said that they covered some alternative therapies. It only took 3 phone calls to get it approved, and I have to say that the people on the other end of the line were very helpful. Not my usual experience with an insurance company. Of course, we'll see what happens when I submit the claim!

I went to Blue Heron Wellness. When I first walked in, then gave me a few sheets of paper to fill out (practically a biography) and sent me to the "serenity room."

(I just have to add that I was just interrupted here. Trying to get kids to bed. Had to pull out Dominic's top front tooth, which was hanging by a thread -- I used the old tie-a-string-around-and-pull method. The other top front tooth is hanging by a slightly thicker thread. It would not budge, and after a few painful tugs, we called it a night. Sorry Tooth Fairy, you might have to visit two nights in a row!)

The acupuncturist, Brendan, read over my "biography." He spent half an hour talking to me about my elbow, my tingling palm, and other things in my life that might affect my health. I think the holistic approach is so very important. After he checked range of motion & figured out exactly where everything hurt (determining in the process that it was more than just an elbow tendon causing the pain) he prepared me for the acupuncture.

There were certainly a couple of pinpoints that were "singing" louder than the others. I was able to relax through the whole thing though. And afterwards, my range of motion was improved, although for a couple of hours my hand was incredibly weak. It's fine now. But the acupuncture has made a noticeable difference in my ability to move my arm, and has reduced the tingling sensations in my palm. I'm going back in a couple of weeks for a second treatment, and once the pain goes away we'll work on massaging the area and find some strengthening exercises.

Of course, I have to be very careful how I hold my arm while typing, and I really have to limit my time on this keyboard. Rats. But I had to write about this positive experience. In the meantime I'm going to look for an ergonomic solution for my home laptop (perhaps just keeping it on my lap?) and for work.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Red Sky in the Morning, Sailors Take Warning

Do you know that old rhyme?

Red sky in the morning, sailors take warning
Red sky at night, sailors' delight.

That's what I learned when I was a kid. It had to do with the weather. If the sky was red in the morning, you could expect rain. If you had a red sunset, then fair weather was ahead.

We had a red sky this morning. Although the weather outside stayed clear through the day, we still had to take warning. Daniel woke up with a blood sugar of 458 today.

So I ask -- what the hell is "free food?" The nurses said that free food is carb free, and can be eaten without bolusing. Pickles! You can have all the pickles you want! Daniel was like, woo hoo pickles (as opposed to WOO HOO! PICKLES!). But meat... ahhhh, here we go. Meat. It's something he sinks his teeth into. It's carb free! It is a manly food! But take it one step closer to perfection -- add cheese. Meat and cheese! What could be better for my growing teenager? He just loves the stuff.

Yesterday was Valentine's day and instead of getting candy for each of the kids, I made heart shaped cheeseburgers. Dominic and Nora got some candy (I bought the bag of all green m&ms) and I made the gluten free brownies for a treat for Daniel. I sat down to my tofu and watched the kids devour red meat.

Nora had a cheeseburger. Dominic had 1 1/2. Daniel had 4. Yes, seriously. He had 2 at dinner with the buns, along with a few strawberries and his brownie. He bolused for this. Then, an hour after dinner, he was amazingly STILL HUNGRY. It's a curious thing, watching a teenager eat. Human vacuums. The food disappears at an alarming rate. So he started picking at cheese sticks, and then found the leftover burgers. He ate 2 without the buns.

He was already a bit high at bedtime, so he corrected AND ATE SOME MORE. He had 2 empanadas.

I know that growth spurts can cause teenagers to eat almost anything in their path. I also know that growth spurts can cause crazy blood sugar numbers. This morning, I had a grumpy, snappish, thirsty male with mild ketones and a crappy attitude. He didn't want to eat breakfast. I got an egg into him and kept him home for a little bit so I could see if his blood sugar was headed back down again. It was, so my husband took him to school and I called the nurse to give her a heads up. She called me at lunchtime to tell me his numbers were back at 89.

Later in the day he's back in the 200s, even with bolusing, correcting, and 30 minutes on the elliptical. It's definitely been a stormy day, diabetes-wise. I hope we can steer into smooth sailing soon!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

33 Minutes, Baby!

I made it to 33 minutes on the elliptical today. Woo hoo! I set it for the weight loss program and pedaled away while Nora was watching Jeopardy. I figured I'd be able to go about half way, because I've only gone for 10 or 11 minute stretches so far. But I just kept thinking about work, and kept pedaling away my frustrations relating to my job, and before I knew it there were only 10 minutes left on the program! I took a one minute break, then kept on going.

I'm in a job where I work with wonderful people, but don't like the work that I do. I've started scanning Craig's list every few days and checking out the local papers for new opportunities, but I feel obligated to stay in my position through the school year.

Unless Johnny Depp asks me to fly to some exotic location to work on his next movie. Then I'm outta there.

By the way, I took this quiz that I saw on Jillian's blog. Try it!! Hey, Jillian, I'm just like you! Breakfasty. Great adjective.

You are breakfasty, like a pile of pancakes on a Sunday morning that have just the right amount of syrup, so every bite is sweet perfection and not a soppy mess. You are a glass of orange juice that's cool, refreshing, and not overly pulpy. You are the time of day that's just right for turning the pages of a newspaper, flipping through channels, or clicking around online to get a sense of how the world changed during the night. You don't want to stumble sleepily through life, so you make a real effort to wake your brain up and get it thinking. You feel inspired to accomplish things (whether it's checking something off your to-do list or changing the world), but there's plenty of time for making things happen later in the day. First, pancakes.

Monday, February 11, 2008


I went to Dominic's church class on Sunday because they were doing a segment on birth and what it is like to be a big brother or sister. When Daniel and Nora took this same class they had the experience of becoming a big brother & sister, so they had lots of stuff to share with the class. Dominic doesn't have that experience. So I was surprised when after they watched the little movie and the teacher asked for comments about being a big brother, Dominic raised his hand.

"I know how diabetes is like having a new baby," he said.

"Oh?" asked the teacher. "Tell me how."

"My mom has to get up at three in the morning to give my brother a shot and feed him. That's like getting up for a baby."

The teacher said that she couldn't agree more.

Okay, Dominic got some of the specifics wrong, but he hears what's going on in the house. Our latest middle of the night low involved me making a 3 a.m. omelet for Daniel. There was no shot, but Daniel did test his blood sugar a few times.

It's just incredible what goes through little kids' heads.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

In Synch

Matt picked Daniel up from his sleepover. He came home around 11. I asked him, "Did you have a low this morning? Around 5 a.m.?"

"Yes -- I got up at 4:55 a.m. I was 53 again."

I said, "You woke me up. I popped awake at 5 and knew you were having a low."

He doesn't even have to be in the house. Isn't that weird?

Friday, February 8, 2008


I'm always tired on Thursdays because Wednesday is my busiest day. Work, the after school rush, karate, yoga. I stay after at yoga to clean the studio and get home late. Sometimes I retain enough relaxation to fall asleep, sometimes I get a second wind from cleaning the studio and driving home so that when I get home at 10:30 or so I need a few minutes to settle back down again. Such was the case this Wednesday. When I got home the house was already quiet. Matt didn't wait up for me this time.

I don't know what it is like for the rest of you out there, but I find that I sleep better when I can fall asleep before my husband does. It's not a snoring thing -- although he does snore when he is congested, but that wasn't the case on Wednesday night. But I was listening to the noises of the world, from close in (his breathing) to the wind barreling through Maryland that night, the ticks and clanks of the heat going through the ducts, the occasional shifts and sighs of children sleeping. My brain would not turn off.

This made Thursday a slogging, cracked-lens kind of day. The end of work couldn't come fast enough, the "finish your homework brush your teeth get to bed" was a top priority for the kids. I wanted to finish the last 2 chapters of a book Daniel had given me to read so he could return it to his school library. Daniel was trying to do some song rearrangement/loading via my laptop onto his ipod. I did remember to pull him away from the computer long enough to give him his Lantus shot. I did not notice that he didn't test his blood sugar before going to bed. Just one of those little omissions that happen over time, the psychic weight of which add up in my head. What am I forgetting today that can lead to consequences tomorrow? Next month?

2:45 a.m. "Mom, I think I'm low." Check. 53. Daniel gets ravenous when he is low, and at the same time unsteady, with clouded thinking. At 3 a.m. he'd rather not attempt gas stove usage, so I made him an omelet, thinking, as I always do, "how will he deal with this when he is grown?"

I logged his blood sugar number in the book and saw then that he didn't have a bed time number written down. I checked the meters. No record. I said, "maybe we would have had an indication that this was coming if you had tested?" He didn't agree, reminding me of middle-of-the-night lows that happen for no reason. Then I remembered.

The new elliptical. Daniel had a good workout last night for the first time in a few weeks, since his gym class ended in January. His blood sugar responded accordingly, at a most inconvenient time! So we live, we learn, and we'll figure out how to prepare for a good night's sleep after exercise. Does anyone out there have any experience with this?

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Huffin' and Puffin'

We bought an elliptical machine. This is how sad my abilities are: I started out at 4 minutes. FOUR! Today I went 5. At the lowest resistance, and the lowest incline.

Yesterday Daniel chugged along for 10 minutes, with 5 of those minutes at Resistance 10. Ah, to be young and in shape!

Thus we begin our efforts to bring back muscle tone and cardiovascular health! We? I mean I begin *my* efforts... Daniel seems to be pretty good, except for all the diabetes crap. He used ellipticals in gym class, but is not taking gym this semester.

Dominic, the little energizer bunny, gets on this machine and won't get off. I can't believe how long this guy can pedal. He has more energy than all the rest of us in the family combined. My husband was trying to get him off the machine last night, and I said, "No! Let him go on and on! Then he'll fall asleep easily tonight."

I'm going to go back on it for another 5 minutes later on. I'm going to try to match Daniel's time, if not his resistance level. Nothing like a little competition to make me work harder!

Monday, February 4, 2008


I ran into a friend at the grocery store. He was shopping for dinner. His wife was on a girls' weekend away to Williamsburg, but she would be home in time to eat, so he was getting everything prepared.

I got an email from another friend. She and her husband got away from the 3 kids and went away to Colorado for a long weekend.

The religious education director at our church is going on a 6 month sabbatical. She will be nurturing her soul & also visiting Costa Rica, the Maritime Islands, and Italy.

I am trying not to be green. But it isn't easy being not green. Oooh, I'm very Kermit. I'd love to get away for a little while. A one month sabbatical? A week? A day?

I'm whining. Dealing with diabetes grinds away at my happiness.

Nora made this hopscotch this weekend that curled in on itself. I was wondering about her thought process because you start on the outside and work your way in... to what? Where is "home?" Where do you turn around?

Then it struck me that this is a lovely hopscotch-metaphor for what I need to do. It's like following a labyrinth. I need to walk the numbers slowly round and round until I find a place of peace in the center. Renewal. Deep breath. And after living in that space for as long as it takes, walk my way back to the outside, refreshed.

This weekend's weather made it easy to find that inner balance & perspective. We're having a lovely little thaw that is coaxing daffodil shoots out of the cold earth. The cycle continues no matter what happens in our lives. Yearly renewal. It's working its way from the inside out in my garden, right now.

Friday, February 1, 2008

T Shirt

Daniel's friend has a T shirt that reads:

Haikus are easy
but sometimes they don't make sense.