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The absolutely LAST thing I have time for tonight is a post…but I feel determined not to let work get on top of me yet again. Especially after meeting Clare H (hello Clare!), a regular reader, in the gym yesterday. I’m thinking: do a post, do a post… And all the best for her daughter C’s move this week to a pump!

ANYWAY. All well here. Some weirdo numbers. Mostly too high. But not thousands. Just a few irritating ones. Pizza dual wave needs changing. Breaded chicken continues to be problematic. And spag bolognese is a pain in the bottom: the normal pasta dual wave is consistently a disaster with this; evidently the fat in the meat slowing things down. So E crashes. Treats hypo. Then hours later goes high.

Argh.

ANYWAY. Another fun one is that using the pump is SO automatic that last night it backfired the opposite way from usual: instead of forgetting to bolus for a meal, E accidentally bolused when he meant to have some free carb (eg without taking insulin to cover the carb content)! Ack. He hadn’t eaten all his meal, so needed to have some free carb to soak up the leftover insulin… Had a cereal bar, and automatically bolused for it. I realised too late, with a kind of weird retrospect, suddenly recalling the buzz from the pump of the dose delivering… an hour after. So in goes TWO boxes of juice (because the extra insulin in the meal still hadn’t been accounted for), and we’re in bed over an hour later than we wanted to be in order to see through this errant dose…

Sigh.

AND — as if life weren’t complicated enough (as ever), Cleo is beginning to pound the floorboards. Which can only mean one thing: the vet was wrong, and the breeder was right — she’s coming into season way before spring.

And Archie is obviously an adolescent. And you know they only want one thing…

Ack.

We’re thinking we’ll put her on the pill for a year or so — what do you think? A bit like when you have babies, it’s hard to stop having kittens…

With that: back to the coal face for me…

 

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Is it very bad if I take this one chance in two weeks to post – seeing as I’m sequestered in a Starbuck’s waiting for straggling students. Straggling and bedraggled as it turns out, in the light rain.

We are in town ‘doing’ some psychogeography – a walk following an algorithm. But it’s wet, alas.

So. News in brief:

1) E again running high in the mornings. Growth. Herewith ends our 2 week stretch of unbroken nights. We must get up and test to try to ascertain at what point he is rising…

2) but not react too aggressively because from Sunday he is away in Wales for a week, no running water, no electricity. Snowdon to climb. Heart attacks to give his parents. He will set running a little high (but not too or he will feel rough and be low energy) the whole time. Hence we go easy on the night levels. For now.

3) this trip should be fine. Should be great. Everyone is prepared. My motherly concern is that he not feel too alone in having to deal and make so many hour by hour by minute judgements in the no doubt changing and out of routine environment. We shall see. Gulp.

4) term has started for me. Hence the headless chicken thing. I think I will come up for air around early November. Alas again.

5) it’s raining. I said that, didn’t I?

6) the KITTENS are spectacular. Like popcorn. Heads held quizzically. Napping in the most awkward positions (sliding down sofa arm, in someone’s crossed ankles). Photos. Will add vid when I get home.


They are now of course escape artists so are underfoot all over the house. And unbelievably lovely. What an experience. And mama Cleo has just been so happy, calling them, checking on them, grooming them. Even though they are weaning. So salutary really….

7) we went to Cornwall for a flying visit – very gorgeous. St Ives Tate, surf beach, and the Eden Project. (sorry, will imbed links at home!) Glorious weather and a special gift of a time, just before we go blinkered for three months…


— Posting on the move, tiny screen!

It’s felt a very full few days. Sometimes in families there is a time when it seems things are changing quickly. The children outstrip themselves. The adults make plans. Some kind of change is in the air.

We had another clinic appointment yesterday, and despite the week of highs after our holiday, E’s HbA1c is again very good, the lowest yet, well under 7%. Just how lucky we are in this achievement was brought home to us when we both heard another teen’s HbA1c, same day, same clinic: 12%.

Living with diabetes requires an incredible vigilance, and, as the consultant pointed out yesterday, gaining control requires a kind of obsessive nature, a perfectionist bent. How true for E.

Growing with diabetes, growing up with it, requires quite a different set of coping mechanisms. And some are winners in it, and some have Herculean sized struggles with it. This is the hormone story: insulin (a hormone), brings blood sugar down. Cortisol and adrenaline — both typically sky high in adolescents, and especially in driven adolescents (check) — raise blood sugar. Unpredictably. Of course.

Growth hormone, as I’ve mentioned before, also raises blood sugar. And is only secreted at night. What I did not know is that it is secreted at all different times of night, in response to the body using up the glucose present in the blood. As the blood sugar drops, growth hormone has the chance to kick in. So it is secreted in a pulsating type pattern. Unpredictably. Which is why over the last six months we have had these astonishing runs of highs in the night, and then just when we want to do something about it, boom, they stop. We have been completely unable to predict or grab them.

The consultant’s advice for these adolescent highs was very good: correct the random highs (perhaps caused by cortisol and adrenaline) as you find them. Don’t worry overly about the growth hormone highs in the middle of the night, because some of the effect may well settle and drift off by morning. So try to get the morning reading okay, but stress less about the night time one.

He also confirmed that E had grown over an inch since June, and another inch in the preceding three months. So we all had a bit of a celebration and a sigh: we are in the middle of his main growth spurt, which may  last another year. Hold on for the ride.

It is clear that E and we seem to have the mentality to constantly ‘be after’ diabetes and control without it wrecking our lives. He tests as a matter of course, without protest, and is keen to keep in range if at all possible. His most upset times come when he runs high — not just because he feels bad, but because he is hugely, hugely aware of how bad this is for him.

In that way and so many others, we are lucky. We are able to carry all this, to hold it, without it taking an incapacitating toll on us.

But how easy it is to imagine a family, many families, where people just aren’t put together like us. Their lives are not as settled, not as happy in other ways. They’ve not had the support of a good diabetes team in the early years. The child or teen just wants to pretend it’s not happening. And the numbers spiral up, kept just within the need the hospitalisation.

I’m not saying anything that almost all of you know, and may even be experiencing. It does make me desperate though, desperate for help with this: how can all families be expected to essentially cope on their own? How can every person be expected to understand and be motivated to look after themselves? They can’t and UNDERSTANDABLY SO. It’s dire. But the price is so high.

E was speechless when he realised that the teen across from him had an HbA1c which was almost twice as high as his. I could see a helplessness mounting in him. How does this happen? We both felt chastened, and left feeling quite humbled. And for me, a little heartbroken too.

***

A little kitten vid. Cleo calling and playing with them. After a while she realises one is still in the box. Hmm… goes to check it out, and they all (eventually) follow… Our bundles of good and silly stuff amongst all the sobering thoughts…

I’m willing to accept that there may be such a thing as being too alert to your cat. So let me state that right off.

However, the last few days with Cleo and the kittens have been utterly fascinating, and make me realise (all over again) how all animals have to negotiate — whether instinctively or deliberately — the development and independence of their offspring. How we may think one thing, but encourage another. How we may wave goodbye and then burst into tears. Etc.

Here’s the thing: two nights ago I was up for four hours trying to settle the kittens with Cleo. She had suddenly taken it into her head that they needed moving. They weren’t safe. Perhaps it was simply that the other basket was too small — which it was. They were like sardines in there.

Anyway, that evening I twice came to the door of the playroom to find her next to a baby with a wet scruff. I deduced (!) that she was trying to move them, and if the scratching UNDER our bed earlier had been anything to go by, she was planning to take them there, where they could not be even slightly contained… Sigh. So I shut the door. At 4am she would not be quiet. She called and called and called and called. She got out and ate. Came back and called. Searched and searched for someplace to put them.

Sigh. I was struck by an idea. I righted a box we had in the room, put a blue blanket in it, and moved the kittens in. I know she likes the blanket. The kittens were HUNGRY. She climbed in and fed. Phew, I thought. Went back to bed. 5am.

Within the hour she was crying again, clearly trying to tell me something. She was out of the box. She didn’t like it. She kept looking from the kittens to me and back again, like do something!

I had another idea. It was an open box, though a table ran along 2 feet above it. I knew, for some reason, that she wanted more privacy. So I took another fleece, and pegged it to the table (under the guinea pig cage, mind you…stay with me), and draped it like a tent around the box.

Hmm….she checked it out. She quite liked it. She purred. She climbed in. And the deed was done.

Now, what’s been interesting from this is that the move to the bigger box meant that for another day the kittens didn’t venture out. They had more room, and maybe didn’t need to. They kind of poked their heads out of the end, then most of the time Cleo would make noises and literally yank them back: your bottom needs cleaning. Etc.

She wasn’t ready for them to go. And they probably weren’t quite ready to go.

Because last evening and today, she’s done something completely different. She has gone into the room and called them OUT of the box. It’s hysterical. Their little heads poke out and they fight to get out of the box, getting stuck, and they tumble around her. She bats them a bit, bites their ears, lets them suckle a little. They stagger about quite happily and explore. After a few minutes, she stands up and walks into the box. And gradually they follow her in, and everyone settles down.

It’s so simple. She knew what was best. She really did. She knew that if she had someplace different for them, they wouldn’t keep wandering out of the box and getting a bit lost before she thought they were ready. She knew when they were strong enough, and encouraged them to get going, to play.

Wow. When the children were little, I always made decisions about ‘what next’ based on what I would call my gut instinct. But I didn’t know that it probably really is instinct, in the flesh. It’s a real, palpable and despite our evolution, necessary thing which pushes us forward, helps development and survival. At each turn — sending my eight year old to get a cup of water from the counter, sending my eleven year old up the hill to buy some bread… or even standing in front of our one year old (we’ve all done it!) holding out our arms (that’s right, walk to mummy) — at each turn, something could go horribly wrong. You dream about everything that could go wrong. Like I’ve seen in Cleo’s eyes — they’ve gone too far! make them come back! But you know it’s your job to say hey come out here. The world is good. The world is full of new things. There’s a bit of it that might be dangerous, yes, and sometimes stuff happens. Don’t I just know that stuff happens. Better to learn to walk and run and play.

I’ve had the odd sense in the last few days that I really shouldn’t do a post about the kittens. There are lots of other things to talk about, and some of the reason I’m here is to talk about them: our experiences with type 1, the way that diabetes is seen and talked about (or not), and our family functioning alongside all of this….

So I’ve decided to DO BOTH. In time-honoured multi-tasking fashion.

First, for days I’ve been haunted by Justin Webb’s article in The Daily Telegraph online. OH sent this to me, and I happened to read it on my way into work, stuck in the car park. I should have known better, because it completely undid me for a few minutes. Once again, the relief of reading about how someone feels, how they understand, how they get it, can be overwhelming. And to have my feelings encapsulated, for just a few moments… Still overwhelms me, and probably always will.

Second, everyone is back at school and so far so pretty good. Daughter M has swung into her last year at this school with real vigour, to the point of having a school play audition from 5-6pm tonight. So watch this space. E’s numbers have been pretty respectable as well, with too many hypos however and a couple of odd highs. The change in routine means a fairly wholesale overhaul of his doses and ratios, so we’ve been chipping through that the last few days, with decent success. Fortunately his night time levels seem to have stabilised, and we had three — count them three! — nights of unbroken sleep.

That saying, he did wake on 2.7mmols one morning. We know the reason and it is this: he fell asleep without testing. We came in and tested him before we went to bed: 3.3mmols. Semi-woke him under great protest, forced in most of a carton of apple juice, and put him on a very low temp for an hour. This was still not enough, clearly, thus the 2.7mmols at 7am.

Lesson: he mustn’t go to sleep without testing. End of story. If he had tested, he would have seen he was too low (eg 5mmols or so) for the night, and had a biscuit, which would have done a far better job of holding him steady in the night.

(Heartache: that he has to do this at all. That this ‘life lesson’ is literally one about life. He forgets it, of course, at his peril. Which is, how shall we say, a stupendous drag.)

Sigh. We continue to live and learn. And learn, and learn and learn.

***

And all along, like our own secret supply of the sweetest music imaginable, are the kittens:

2 weeks old!

Archimedes, Eudora, Artemis and Little Miss Unnamed Yet at the back

Archimedes, Miss Unnamed, Eudora, and Artemis apparently playing dead

Archie standing, Eudora swatting Artemis, Miss Unnamed maybe cleaning?

As you can see from the captions, we are beginning to name them: Archimedes (or Archie) is the larger darker boy. He always looks a bit disheveled and bumbling, because he has long, plush fur, and also M says, because his eyebrows are tufty! Eudora is the lightest, a girl, and she is extremely alert: the first eyes open, the first out of the box. She also now comes toward our voices, which is heart-melting. Artemis is the darker girl (we think). Called thus because of the gender confusion, and because two members of the family are very into mythology (Artemis is often used as a boy’s name now, but is actually a goddess from Greek mythology, a huntress and goddess of wild animals and childbirth). Artemis looks like a delicate one, very fine face. She is third in development and shy, but now beginning to show herself. Miss Unnamed is really only slightly so: we are stuck between Pandora and Eurydice, the former because it’s like Eudora and they are both light, and the latter because she is a bit of a ‘follower’, more reserved — was the last to venture out of the box, and is frequently sleeping while the others are playing. Negatives about Pandora is that she let all sorts of evil out of a box! And that seems unfair to put upon a kitten (though M points out that Pandora also released hope, which was mega good…). Negatives about Eurydice is that a) it’s hard to say and b) it’s hard to spell! And what could it be shortened to in which case? Eury?

Anyway, as you can imagine they are the light of our day and HUGE time-wasters. Cleo is still confined with them, so I’m still doing lots of letting her in and out of the room. Cleo is also eating for Britain, so our cat food bills are tremendous. I allowed Schubert in the room with us today for the first time. Cleo was very relaxed, stretched out. He came in, she watched closely. He sniffed out the room, stuck his head in the box. By this time Cleo was on her feet. He and Cleo sniffed noses, and he left the room.

A good start!

For you real die-hards, I’ve put a 9 minute video up on YouTube. It’s a film of Eudora and then Archie venturing out of the box. Eudora had already been out once, and this shows in her far-wandering propensity. Archie is a brief explorer. Cleo was there and can’t figure out what to do with her wayward daughter….

If you do watch, I apologise for the 2 or 3 minutes of  filming into space… I just forgot what I was doing, alas. Also, mid-way through you can hear E (muffled like the adults talk in the old Charlie Brown and Snoopy films) outside the door. What he’s doing is telling me that he’s home from school and tested his blood. And that it was 15mmols and he doesn’t know why because he’s checked and he did dose for lunch. But that’s he’s corrected with more insulin and won’t have a snack until his level goes down — even though he’s starving. Argh. And heart-tugging.

Anyway, be patient. There’s some nice footage at the end. Such a good mummy!

Almost three days old!

I’m pretty sure that photos of newborns of any species are beautiful pretty much in the eye of the proud grand/parent, but here we are! I snuck in and snapped this first thing this morning, when mama Cleo had popped out to have breakfast and do her usual cruise around the house looking for a singularly inappropriate place to move the babies… Scale-wise, each baby is about 100 grams at the moment, with one slightly larger, at 120g. This one is also the only definite BOY. We *think* we have one boy and three girls. They have increased their weights evenly by about 12% in 24 hours. That’s some growing…

I’ve just stuck my head in. Lots of feeding noises, lots of bickering — I want this spot, no I want this spot! — with mama purring away and resting her head on the backside of one of them. Aww!

She’s very happy. And I’m very happy, because at last this morning she managed to do all of her litter tray ‘business’. Number 1s, as they say, were fine from the start, but I was just getting to the point of trying to investigate mild kitty laxatives, when aha! Done deal. All looked healthy and good. Phew.

My only remaining anxiety (well aside from the larger ‘what is life’ ones and the longer term ‘will all the kittens be okay’ ones) is WHY she won’t drink the water in her room?She has two little bowls, both of which she has drunk out of in other parts of the house, both of which I’ve shown her and dabbed on her nose… But still, she rushes downstairs like a bat out of hell when we let her out to drink from the one on the side of the bath. I mean, I ask you!

I remember what it’s like to breastfeed. You are THIRSTY. Silly girl.

***

And last night I finally had some sleep that wasn’t fraught with worry. I didn’t jerk awake thinking the kittens were squashed, and E’s 3 am number was okay, as was his morning one. Hurray! Perhaps we will not set the alarm tonight? Nah. Too soon. But we may be getting there, for a short time anyway.

Deep cleansing breath.

All well with the new additions: four healthy seeming, good feeding and content looking sort of white kitties. Cleo continues to languish in her box, kneading the air — which is called bicycling, and is a very good sign that she’s lactating and happy. She’s certainly purring a lot!

Last night and twice this morning she asked to come out of the room. She proceeded to eat loads of Schubert’s food, drink from the bathtub as of yore (remember, she has all her own food and water in her room!), and explore the WHOLE house. She keeps checking out her old possible nests, and at one point found a few more: under the sofa, under the bathroom cupboard… Right.

Absolutely NO WAY, is all I have to say to that. We can’t keep those babies safe in another situation. They will set off across the room again. Schubert will think one is a toy. It’ll be awful.

I’m only just beginning to stop feeling faintly ill from constant anxiety. Stay where you are Cleo, in a nice, furry cat basket, lovely and warm and quiet. You really don’t want to move them to the middle of all the action. You really, really don’t.

I’m also getting over my anxiety about her adventures away from her babies. She leaves them while content and wanders about the house, for 20 minutes sometimes. Although as I type she’s been snoozing with them (who can blame her, after what she’s been through) for six hours. But when she wanders, I fight panic. I’m afraid she’s going to forget about them. I know that’s silly.

I’m silly. She now knows what she’s doing. And they are stronger every hour.

I remember a dream I once had about forgetting newborn kittens in a cupboard in our old house. I looked and looked for them, and never found them. When I woke up, I was devastated. I had this dream years ago, around the time I lost a pregnancy.

Strangely, I think it’s that feeling which has partly come back. Combined with the panic of having an actual newborn baby human: like if you forget about them for a minute, they will come to harm.

Not true, of course. Funny how I have to learn that all over again.

***

In the land of type 1 diabetes, we are still struggling with night numbers in particular. Having lowered the basals, things once again went a little high last night. The thing is: we are dealing with a moving target. Diabetes never stands still, not in adolescents, anyway. What may have worked two days ago has no guarantee of working today. At the moment anyway. We can only keep pitching the balls, and hope to at least stay in the ballpark….

And I forgot to say in yesterday’s entry that roughly two hours into Cleo’s labour E came in and said that just to add to the stress he had just figured out he’d forgotten to bolus (take insulin) for lunch. Which was rice, a seven hour dual wave (dripping in of insulin). Which explained why he was 23mmols and feeling grim.

Sigh. No one’s fault. It’s so easy to do in all the fuss. But it took him three hours to come close to back in range, 11mmols. And then of course by 11pm he was too low.

Sigh again. He handled it well and didn’t complain, even though I know for an hour he thought he was going to throw up.

And during that time, two more kittens were born.

As I type this, we have FOUR squirming, squeaky, kittens in our…wait for it…playroom. Which translates to the messiest, most precarious room in the house. Sigh.

What an experience. I think we can safely say never again. Though I suppose like so many things, the stress may pass and we’ll think, hey, a nice idea…

So she ends up under a table which is less than 18 inches wide, hemmed in both sides, and with a table stretcher, eg great chunk of wood, right in the middle of it, four inches off the floor. Charming. On carpet. Charming. She went into labour effortlessly, then within 30 mins, with all of us in there, we heard a squeak, and No 1 appeared. Astonishing. She knew what to do and all well. No 2 was a long time coming, and when it arrived, we could see why. Hard to discern exactly, in the dark corner, but didn’t come out the same, was unusually large, and stillborn.

A huge shock, esp for the children. Cleo seemed to know this one was not right, and had paid no attention. To the point where it was still connected. So OH performed the cord surgery, stuffing his broad shoulders under this 18 inch space… Lordy. (All with surgical gloves, of course.)

No 2 had been very messy, so from here on out you may want to avert your eyes. No 3 arrived quite soon after, but she seemed to have little awareness of it. It was quiet and the sac on. I reached in; it was warm and moving, so I broke the sac, at which point the noise and squirming tuned her in. She managed this cord. No 4 arrived quite soon after, yelling his/her head off before even out completely. She also didn’t seem to click with this one, but we left well enough alone for a while as it was squirming and I think even managing to feed, still connected! However, after another 15 mins or so it still wasn’t disconnected, so it was my turn to go in with thread and scissors. A slippery affair. As soon as this one was freed up, however, all three lined up for a drink and Cleo had a rest. We thought that was it, and brought her some food, which she ate ravenously without even standing up.

We went downstairs and poured some wine and opened some crisps. I was wobbly from stress!

After a half an hour I went up again — just in time to see another emerging. Again, this sac was still mostly on, though I could see lots of wiggling, and as I watched, I saw it snorting and taking breaths. Again, she seemed quite oblivious and this one was still connected. Again however we left her to it. When we came back 20 minutes later, this last one was indeed still connected. Out came the thread and scissors again. Me again.

Imagine the stuffing of my whole upper half into this tiny, dark space, torchlight, fiddling with a minute cord and thread. In gloves.

We tried to keep track of placentas (placentae?!), and things seem okay.

Of course, the plus here is that we were up in the middle of the night ANYWAY, so I checked on her then. She was smashed into the corner, purring. I could see some babies but god knows how many, and left her to it.

This morning she was crying to come out of the room, and when we opened the door, she shot downstairs and snarfed fresh food, saw Schubert, asked for lots of love, and returned to her nest.

The four babies were huddled together, all fine and less like drowned rats. Her backside was considerably cleaner.

The saga doesn’t end here though, because she seemed to be prowling around the room. It’s true she’d chosen perhaps the most awkward space in the house…

Later we came in and saw two babies setting off across the room… Not good. Cleo a bit manic. Called the breeder, who recommended moving them into a box and settling her in with them…

Easier said than done of course. Seeing as this mama cat just will not do what we want.

Set up a box, covered it with material, moved the kittens in quickly and then tried to entice mama in. No way. Finally picked her up bodily. She settled down, they squeaked, I left.

An hour later she was sitting in the OTHER covered cat basket we’d brought in, happily cleaning and purring. The kittens were in a pile in the original box.

We got her fresh food, she ate, and needed LOADS of love. Sniffed the kittens’ box, got back into hers. Meowed.

We tried not to panic. Left her to it.

A few minutes later she’s calling again. I go in. She loves me, loves me SO much she’s rubbing against everything in sight. Goes to the kitten box, goes to her box, eats a bit. Rolls on her back. I LOVE YOU, she says.

Right. I love her back, then leave.

A few minutes later, she calls again. I go in. She is still loving me like mad. I pick her up again and try to get her to sit down with the kittens. She does so briefly, licks one, and then bolts out, straight into her box.

Okay, fine. I decide to move them again. This time however I don’t have to touch them with gloves, but can gather them all up on one towel. I pick them up like a little parcel, and lay them in the box with her. They immediately begin to make their way to her, meeping away… And within a few minutes, I can see that she has one leg up , and is letting them feed.

No idea if they are suffocating under the towel, which I didn’t unfold all the way because I didn’t want to fuss. No idea if this will last. But at least they are warm for a while and have had a meal…

LORDY!

The stress!

***

I think there’s a good chance that such highly bred cats are a bit high maintenance. The breeder was unsurprised that Cleo seemed more interested in cleaning her fur than cleaning the kittens at birth. She said Birmans are like this. Now everyone is fine, but at the time it’s like, help them, help them silly mama!

And I was awake much of the night worrying myself stupid. Of course.

***

We are getting kitten formula in just in case. Though I think things are better for the moment.

Lordy. Again.

As soon as I can, I will take pictures!

Over and out…

The calling commenced at 6am. Seemingly at her bidding, I followed Cleo from possible nest to possible nest.

At last we settled UNDER the spare room sleeping bag, on the spare room bed. She moved in and out of there for several hours, calling and cuddling, then digging in the sleeping bag. Fine.

Then she thought that under our bed was good. Filthy and out of reach, but excellent in her view.

So then she greeted Schubert with quite a spring in her step – at which point we discovered that things were underway, according to her bottom. If you get my drift.

Now with another whistle stop tour through the spare room, our bedroom and the playroom, it’s anyone’s guess where she will end up.

But it will be soon. I’ve got my supplies. But know nuthin bout birthin babies, as said in Gone With the Wind.

Sigh. Meanwhile new basals continue to behave strangely. We stagger on…

— Posting on the move, tiny screen!

Upon arriving home, we knew for sure that Cleo was expecting. She is round. Eating like a horse. And there are kittens in there! Moving around like crazy.

She is due sometime after 21 August (three days). We are in a bit of a lather.

First time grandmother, I have taken to it with typical obsession. She has not one, but three firm ‘nest’ alternatives now. Which have been alternately lined with towels, fleece and now finally newspaper in the last week. She has not so far chosen any of them. I pray her eventual stopping place will not be a) under a double bed or b) on a window sill, which to be honest has been her favoured place these last ten days. A windowsill! Imagine this. Or not.

Establishing nests for her also seems to have led me into my own nest building: I have been (again rather obsessively) clearing out cupboards and wardrobes. It’s a case of serious overdrive. You could be forgiven for thinking we were getting ready to either move or adopt a child. We have so far filled about ten black bags with STUFF. Only two more sets of clothes and two more chests of drawers to go, and then we will have been through all storage items in the house. Preparing for babies, moi?!

OH says that daughter M would do best to be at some distance when she falls pregnant (one hopes, years from now!). I think he may be right. Meanwhile, I am trying to catch languishing Cleo long enough to trim around her teats (yes, she says defensively, this is actually done, we are informed by the breeder!) so that the kittens (kittens! kittens!) can find their milk…

Sigh.

Cleo looking altogether more relaxed than I feel!

***

On other fronts, we did have an absolutely wonderful time: we read and swam, read and swam. But also saw a number of deep South of France cities we hadn’t before: Avignon, Orange, Arles. Of these, Arles was stupendous. The kind of working, ancient town — with a few Roman remains thrown in — that you’d just like to get inside of. This is what I love about imbedded history: yes, there are tickets to buy and audio books to listen to. Yes there are tourists. Of a sort. But the life of the city just carries on around it. People drive around the Roman amphitheatre, walk through it on the way to work. It’s incredible. And heartening. We also went back to Uzes and the Pont du Gard, two favourite spots which lived up to our memories of them. Stunning, Provencal, and somehow liberating.

ANYWAY.

Number wise things were just fabulous: after the first couple of days of temp basals, E’s insulin levels seemed to settle rather miraculously. We began not to put him on any temps, he hardly had any lows, played in the pool a great deal, walked a great deal… And, you guessed it, GREW like a beanpole. By the end of the holiday we realised his needs had gone up overall, which is why all the exercise etc had not sent him crashing over and over.

And you guessed it: on the way back in the car, his numbers began to soar. Where they stayed, enduring the battle of the 200% temp plus corrections, for about 4 days. Like a plant, with a little sun and water, he had shot up. Had he been less active, we would have had to increase his insulin by about 30%. As it was, we had to do it when we got back.

We figure he grew about an inch in that two weeks. No kidding. He came downstairs the morning after our return saying his eyes were at a different level in the mirror! My lord!

No wonder we have been running to keep up.

So OH and I have not had an unbroken night in four weeks now. We are still trying to get night basals right — he keeps being 12-14 mmols at 2 or 3 am, which is sort of incredible. We then correct him and he’s usually (but not always) okay in the morning. Clearly he’s doing all his growing at night! This morning he was 2.9mmols however, too low, so it’s just that middle of the night window that needs looking at again. We’ve already raised it by two increments since our return.

Oh well. We will get there. Until something else changes.

We’ve also had to change his insulin sensitivity on the pump, or his correction ratio (eg how many mmols can one unit of insulin be expected to lower him?). It used to be 1 unit insulin to 4 mmols in the daytime (high, but he’s quite sensitive), and 1 unit to 5 mmols in the nighttime. For the first four days back at home, we kept finding corrections less effective, lowering him only a little. After setting the basals on 110-120% temp all day and night, and still corrections were not doing it, we figured it wasn’t just a question of basal adjustment. We therefore changed his correction ratio to 1:3mmols for the day, and 1:4mmols for the night. The nighttime one still seems hit and miss (eg didn’t bring him down from bedtime to 2am, and brought him down too much this morning) — but we’ll have to tackle this again through basal rates, as I say…

Endless.

But he’s  three inches taller than me now. Since Christmas. He looks like a tall person in a queue of people. He is beginning to measure up to his father. Which is some good growing, type 1 diabetes aside. Yay!

***

And I haven’t even mentioned daughter M. Who grew like a plant as well, and was the only one in the family who turned the colour of a nut effortlessly and has French style, with scarves and tank tops and gladiator sandals and sunglasses, like nothing I’ve ever seen. Who is only now four inches shorter than me. Who will pass me in height in oh, two years or less. And I will be the short, comparatively squat one in the family. It’s alarming. Really wild. I always thought I was tall. 5’7″ is pretty tall for a woman. Isn’t it? Isn’t it?!

But I’m surrounded by lean, soaring, willowy folks. Of whom I’m so proud. Sniff.

Cleo, E and M. Must be something in the water.

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.