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Hello everyone. And hello again. So many hellos indeed that it’s hard to know how I will start this post… Apologies? Reassurances? Thank you firstly to those who sent messages via email or facebook about whether we were okay.

Yes, we are really fine. Truly fine. I just had to let things slide in the middle of what was the busiest teaching and admin term for me in several years. It became a case of only the absolutely essential bits of life survive! And the blog just went — poof! — like dust. Before I knew it so much time had passed. It is only with the New Year now upon us that I can sit back a little and think now I can get back to this. Thank goodness.

Because I’ve missed it. Lots.

***

Catching up info: E is now at least three inches taller than me! Yes, choke in surprise. It has happened so fast that I keep thinking he’s either wearing heels (not likely!) or standing on his toes (also not likely since he gave up dance about a billion years ago). He is now creeping toward his father’s height of 6 foot, which his father categorically refuses to acknowledge. M too has shot up: fits my shoes and also wears the smallest women’s size 6 (uk, that is. American it’s 2 I think?).

What the heck?

But it’s the sheer food consumption that is doing our heads in. Forget monitoring carb intake. Just forget it. The best we can do is try to get him not to eat too late in the night, so that we don’t have to get up and test. He’ll sit down and have 400 g of mashed potato, eight small sausages, and a pile of vegetables. Faster than any of us can finish our meals, he’s done and standing up for ‘more food’. He returns to the table with a cereal bar, a pot of yoghurt, more sausages… Our food bill has gone up by 50% in the last six months. SO alarming. He eats all the time. We go through boxes of cereal bars, probably one per day. He also doesn’t seem to want non-carb, like meat and cheese. He really, really wants carb, big time. His body must just be building itself, putting together the infrastructure, like constructing a building… It’s incredible to watch.

I realise I’m not telling you anything many of you won’t know. But I am really reveling in it: his growth means his diabetes is controlled. Which is a source of intense relief.

And controlled it is. The last HbA1c was again very good. This is not to say that we don’t have days of weird swings and runs of highs and lows — but we are blessed with a young man who is admirably keen to stay in some control. He never does not act on the information his testing kit gives him, and he never (unless out with friends in town) doesn’t test. This is hugely to his credit, and how very lucky we feel in this.

Case in point: yesterday he was inexplicably 16mmols before lunch. It scarcely matters how that happened, and although it was less than two hours since he’d eaten his snack, he still felt the number was too high. So he overrode the pump and gave himself a partial correction. By PE two hours later he was down to 6mmols — he didn’t eat to bolster up for exercise because he was worried about having been high (is this a run of highs? for instance), but within an hour he’d hypo-ed and had to stop. He treated, and by the time he was home he was a nice even 7mmols.

I told his father the story. He’s a good lad, he said. Indeed. Much better to have tried to get things lower than leave a high and allow himself to get insulin resistant. We know by now that if we don’t act quite harshly, he can stay high for hours sometimes, depending on why it’s happened. In this case, it was inexplicable. He rightly thought the mostly likely reason was not because of a previous bolus, but because of feeling slightly ill, or from a cortisol high. It was unusually high even for the middle of a bolus.

As it turns out he probably didn’t need to do this, as evidenced by his quick fall in blood sugar. But better to do what he did. 

***

Enough extolling! Suffice it to say that we press on. Funny night highs continue, and we just tweak the pump when we think the high might have set in…whereupon it goes away and of course he’s too low. Sigh. We’ve had a good enough few weeks at the moment such that we are hardly ever getting up to test. Thank goodness, because we have been on the floor with exhaustion, both of us. E understands this, and is careful not to eat late if he can help it. We also almost always aim to have any pasta or rice earlier in the evening — before 7.30 pm — so that we can test him right at the end of the dual wave, at 12.30am. I confess that staying up even that late is fairly dire. And once last week OH spilled hot tea over himself in bed after falling asleep waiting for the right time to test… But it’s better than a 3am alarm, for sure.

***

While I’ve been away, some folks have carried on an intermittent reflection over on A Place to Talk. And one question that’s come up from Angela is what people think ‘triggered’ or ’caused’ their own or their children’s diabetes?

Medicine knows quite a lot about genetic predisposition and about viral triggering… I can trace I think E’s trigger through to a stomach bug he had in Italy in 2008. Everyone else had it too, though we only had cramps. He had cramps AND a fever, was really quite poorly. Three months later he was diagnosed.

What are others’ theories, and experiences? As Angela points out, it can feel so random, especially, as in her case and many others’, there is more than one child in a family affected?

And of course it can feel unfair. Does feel unfair. Is unfair. And arbitrary. And stupid, stupid, bad luck.

So there.

Any thoughts welcome.

For now: great to be back.

E returned in fine fettle on Sunday — less odorous than anticipated! — though the suitcase was a sight (and smell) to behold, of course. His duty on the last day was cleaning the chemical toilet… Oh dear. But he seemed to get through it okay. His sister had made him a smashing welcome home banner, which he acknowledged with real affection and appreciation. And within minutes he had managed to download his camera, shift everything to a memory stick and then onto a slide show on the television….

O-kaaaay. I didn’t even know you could do that.

Sigh.

He had taken a shedload of pictures, and narrated us through. Some really beautiful shots, and some great history, environmental concerns, and shots of wild horses (taken even in the rain!) for his sister. Bless! Will try to get him to do a guest post…

Several things to note from all this. Well, lots, but I have to be contained. Time is of the essence today.

1) the staff were brilliant. As were the sixth formers. On the first night, E had a tough time. He felt very sick, disorganised and probably panicky. One of the teachers moved out of his bedroom, and T & E moved in. The teacher slept on the table for the rest of the week.

2) everyone stopped when either boy went low. One of E’s misgivings was that he would be left behind when hypo, even though he knew someone would always be with him. But in the event everyone just stopped. No fuss. E said that everyone just used the chance to talk. To tell their life stories, he said.

3) it’s clear that E hasn’t lost the ‘give it a go’ quiet confidence he has had for several years now. Apparently he tried everything, and did everything. Even things that some others wouldn’t or couldn’t. There was one small activity: threading the needle, I think it was. They foot-holded up the inside of some rock, then through the top… Lordy. He did it. He said people pulled him through at the end, but he did it. Only a few did. I can’t help but wonder if his success is also about allowing others to help, trusting teamwork in the end. Interesting…

4) coming down Snowdon, E took quite a tumble and really bashed his knee. He felt dizzy and breathless.  The guide was straight over, making sure, as E said, that he ‘could move everything’. E said he could walk on it, and up he got. But what I want to say is that two or three more times in the next half hour or so, the guide asked how he was. That’s good care.

***

Those are some of the tangible things. But of course there are so many intangible lifts that come from an experience like this.

1) He wants to keep walking.

2) He knows he can manage extreme situations. He knows what he would do differently next time.

3) WE know he can manage extreme situations. We know others can be trusted.

4) Diabetes didn’t stop him.

5) Diabetes didn’t stop him.

6) Diabetes didn’t stop him.

7) And all that this implies.

***

Something has shifted. Some kind of small attic window has been opened. And beyond it, is sky.

Just a glancing post to say that E (and T) made the summit of Snowdon yesterday via Knife Edge (250 meters of toe-hold rock scramble across ridges, sheer drops either side!), in heavy fog, and then all the way back down…

Inordinately proud of him (them). And for taking so much so lightly: only a coupla hypos (he wrote) and a little high, but meh.

When asked what it was like, to us he wrote: Knife Edge was terrifying, but quite easy.

To his sister: You could only see 10 meters all around. It was like walking on clouds.

***

Sigh. A good night for him last night — no panics — and for us too: last minute, our special friend Nancy took us out for a meal. Daughter M stayed up chatting over her British cheese board in style, and we enjoyed confit duck with lentils and pear!

Feel completely lifted today. He’s done it. He can do it. And so can we all, sister M included.

Setting sail

In November 2008 my 12 year old son was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. The effect of this event on me -- and on our nuclear family -- was like being thrown overboard and watching the ship leave.

'Dealing with type 1' in the family has morphed into another sort of 'dealing' -- a wholesale resituating of parenting, of family dynamics...of life.

At my son's diagnosis I could not to locate a record of what living with a type 1 child in the family is like. I could not see myself or our family anywhere. I longed for a starting point, a resource and a sense of the future. Being a writer, my instinct is to write it. This space, I hope, is a start.

Blood Sugar Ranges (UK)

<4 mmols = low or hypo, life-threatening if untreated
4-8 mmols = within target range
8-13 mmols = high but not usually dangerous
14+ mmols = very high, or hyper, life-threatening if untreated

Bubbles

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Distance Travelled

Disclaimer

I am not a medical professional. Any view expressed here is my opinion, gleaned from experience, anecdote or available research.