Thanksgiving is a wonderful holiday; by far one of my favorites. What can be better than a day with family and friends celebrating how thankful we are for all we have in each other? I love Thanksgiving. My son who has Type 1 diabetes also loves Thanksgiving. He loves going to Nannie and Papa’s house to see his Uncle who will be visiting and spend some time hanging out with our family. He also loves to eat.

When we all sit down to eat my son is the first to receive his appetizer because he just can’t wait. Of course, all of this happens after we have checked his blood glucose. What, the six year old in your house doesn’t check his glucose before eating? The six year old in our house cannot eat a bite of that fantastic shrimp cocktail appetizer until his glucose is checked. It just takes a few seconds, but it feels like an eternity when your mouth is watering   just at the sight of the shrimp.

My son sees scrumptious shrimp and cocktail sauce sitting in front of him. I see carb free shrimp and a 15 carb serving of cocktail sauce. My son eats and I bolus (give insulin) through the remote that is wirelessly transmitted to the insulin pump that he wears 24 hours a day…even on holidays. Diabetes doesn’t take a day off.

Now it’s my turn to eat my shrimp, my carb free and 15 carb cocktail sauce. Oh wait, I don’t have Type 1 diabetes, no need to count my carbs, but it just happens now. All food has become some carb amount for me.

“Can your son have more?” someone asks.” Of course”, I say as I try to count the carbs of the cocktail sauce as it’s dripping off of each shrimp. All done. Great. Time to take a break from eating…and counting.

Round two. Check the boy’s blood glucose again. We need to make sure we were close enough on the counting of the shrimp cocktail carbs that his glucose is somewhat in range. Too high, we need to give more insulin. Too low, we may need to eat something with sugar in it first to help the glucose number stay more steady.

The table is set in nothing short of a feast. There will be turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, green beans, broccoli, stuffing, biscuits, cranberry sauce and Nannie’s ever famous sweet potato bake with roasted marshmallows on top. As my son makes his plate of turkey, gravy, green beans, cranberry and a biscuit or two or three his mouth is visibly watering. His eyes are getting bigger and bigger with each new addition to his plate.

As my son’s fork is poised and ready to inhale all this delicious food, my head fills with numbers. Quickly adding the gravy, the green beans, cranberry sauce and the biscuits getting about 48 carbs for the first serving. Adding 11 more carbs each time he reaches for another warm biscuit.

Eating. Adding. Adding. Eating. Bolusing. Eating. Bolusing. Bolusing. Checking.

This is all before we even get to the apple pie, pumpkin cookies and ice cream.

Thanksgiving really makes you think about all you have to be thankful for. First and foremost I am thankful for my family. I know how truly lucky I am. I am also thankful for my son’s insulin pump, his life support. I am also thankful for the Internet which keeps me on top of the latest diabetes info. I am thankful for my own intellect which helps me keep track of the carbs in his meal to help keep his blood glucose as close to range as possible.

Diabetes affects every part of your life even holidays, no matter how hard you try to pretend that it doesn’t.

Guinea Pig

There have been many nicknames that I have lovingly called my son since he was born. Some that come to mind are sweet potato, baby, sweetheart, and lovey. One that I never thought would come to mind when thinking about my son is guinea pig, but that is exactly what I feel like he is when it comes to figuring out the proper care for his diabetes.

I have to make decisions regarding my son’s care many times a day and night. Some decisions are easy. If his number is out of range on the high side I know to give insulin. If his number is out of range on the low side I know to give him some sort of sugar. Oh if only all my decisions could be that cut and dry. The harder decisions are the ones that leave me guessing as to whether I made the right decision and and in turn have me treating my son like he is a guinea pig in his own personal clinical trial.

For every meal my son has what is called an insulin to carb ratio. That is the amount of insulin that he receives for the amount of carbs that he eats. For breakfast my son receives 1 unit of insulin for every 15 carbs that he eats. The way to test if this works is if his blood glucose comes back into range within the next 2 to 3 hours.

If at his next glucose test his number is on the high side I can speculate that the ratio may need to be made tighter (or bigger for my mathy friends), where I give more insulin for each carb, but that is just a speculation. Speculation because it could also be a bad site, too little basal, slowly digesting food, or too small of a correction factor.  Herein lies why my son is like a guinea pig. I have to run trial after trial to figure out how to get that said number in range. It is then when my son has to endure extra blood glucose checks, like a guinea pig, to determine if the changes being made are heading him in the right direction.

The kicker is this happens multiple times a day. Every time that my son tests his sugar and it is out of range, either high or low, I have to then speculate where that number came from and how to fix it for the next time. This process can take weeks. No kidding. Weeks! With all the outside factors such as growth hormones, illness, food, basal rates, meal/snack ratios, and correction factors, it can take weeks before we actually figure out what is causing the pattern of high or low sugars.

It is a glorious moment in the life of a person with Type 1 diabetes when the decision you made to fix a pattern actually works quickly.

It’s the long drawn out trial and errors that make it really hard to not get angry at diabetes. It’s the time that my son has to waste of his little six year old life dealing with high glucose, low glucose and many many blood checks  that really make you hate diabetes.

My son is a boy, not a guinea pig, and he should not have to endure one more second of the trials and errors of Type 1 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes has wasted enough of his time, and enough is enough.

Our diagnosis story.

This was written by me a few days after diagnosis. I wanted to remember the chain of events. Honestly I can write a book based on those 3 days alone. This is just a snippet of how our story began.

My son was off for about 6 months prior to diagnosis. He was whiny, angry, tired, and cold; it almost felt like he had PMS for a 3 1/2 year old boy. He was so yucky to be around that I thought that our fun life was over at 3 1/2. He used to cry and say he didn’t want to turn four; he didn’t want to go to school. I actually thought he was depressed. Over what, I had no idea, but that’s how it felt living with him. Fast forward to 2 weeks after his 4th birthday and he peed the bed. NEVER did that once. Then he started asking for drinks. Then started demanding drinks and he started peeing all the time. Every 20 minutes. I immediately thought diabetes (don’t know why) and started doing research. I asked moms on an Internet bulletin board if they had any stories about diabetes and some did. I kept the knowledge on the back burner. During this time frame I made his 4 year old visit for 7/25/07.

The night before the visit, my son got up to pee 6 times. I mean really pee, like he hadn’t peed in days. Well the morning of the visit (my husband was home to watch the kids for a checkup for me too); my son comes to his dad and me and tells us he’s hungry. I look at him, his lips are blue, he is completely grey and shrunken, like someone had sucked all the life out of him. I spell ‘hospital’ to my husband, and told him to quickly give him juice (I thought he needed sugar for some reason) and I made him pancakes. He perked right up with the juice and pancakes.

At the visit at 3pm I told the pediatrician to test his urine for diabetes (I didn’t know Type 1 or Type 2 yet). We go through the whole visit and the doctor never mentioned the urine test that she did. I had to ask in the final few seconds of the meeting. This is where is gets annoying-Dr. says “you’re going to have to go see an endocrinologist.’ I tell her I don’t know any, she says maybe the girl up front can find you one. Okay, I yell to the girl up front that while she’s looking for an endo for me to make the appointment IMMEDIATELY and I would drive anywhere on the East Coast (I knew in my heart my son was dying). Dr. says to the receptionist, “Oh and let me talk to them, maybe it will get you in sooner.” Endo says come to ER immediately (of course) and we drove there on autopilot, only stopping home to get clothes, toys, kiss daddy and sister. On the way to the ER I make plans for my mom to come and stay with my daughter, so that my husband could come to ER too.

The really annoying part…his sugar was off the charts, over 1,000, in that doctor’s office that day. We didn’t need that pediatrician to talk to the endo. They were waiting for us in the ER.

My son’s sugar registered 800 in the hospital after they had started insulin. No ketones. We were there for 2 nights and 3 full days. They gave me a crash course in care because I kept asking to leave. I started giving insulin the first full day there. I also started checking blood that fast too. I needed to prove to them I could take care of him (prove I could care for MY SON!), so I gave myself the first shot. They really tried to get me out as fast as possible and they did.

Nurses kept coming in to meet the mom that saved her boy from DKA.

We’ve been doing really well with it.  Everyday we learn a little more, and it has not stopped our way of life. We deal with D (diabetes) all the time, and it has incorporated itself into our world. Our world didn’t stop because of D.