Thursday, August 8, 2013

Diabetes is the New Black

Of all of the people who can tell you what they've been up to, it's a blogger. And, logically, their blog is a tidy source for all of their recent endeavors, achievements and projects.

Unless, possibly, if you also happen to work in social media. Since taking on the massively fun task of curating and creating the content for a major brand's social channels, my own channel has gone...silent. And so I have very little to show for myself. And yet, the journey has not slowed.

And so, here I am, nearing mid-August, doing all the things all of my friends are doing, with a slight twist.

Like my friends and neighbors, I'm making lists. Things to buy: new backpacks, school supplies, new socks, James needs new shoes. Things to do: Katie has senior pictures on Tuesday, marching band camp begins the following Tuesday, the new parent meeting is around the corner. Things to plan: driving schedules, in-laws visiting, home game schedules.

Oh. And things for William. "Things for William" is a very different list. Things for William involve:
- Insulin
- Needles
- Alcohol swabs
- Blood glucose meters
- Testing strips
- Smarties
- 6 oz juice boxes
- Food logs
- "Free" foods
- Traveling food scale
- Glucagon pen
- Medical paperwork

William was diagnosed with Type 1 Juvenile Diabetes on March 17, 2013. It's not in my blog, but I remember it like it was yesterday. I can tell you about the 12+ hours we spent getting him checked in to CHOC through St. Joseph's ER. Not that he was critical; he wasn't. Just because they weren't going to allow a walk-in admit. So we spent 12 hours waiting in the ER with folks who had the flu, upper respiratory infections, injuries, things that needed faster attention than a kid with 350+ blood sugar. While I have nothing but the kindest words for the doctors and nurses we met that weekend at CHOC, I have to say the admit process was abyssmal. But that was a long time ago. That was before we cleared a shelf in the pantry for all of William's diabetes supplies. That was before I found myself measuring baggies of gold fish and pretzels for easy-to-count snacks. OH, that was before I ever counted a carb.

And this is now. Because within a 12-hour admit process our lives changed forever. William's the most, obviously, but all of us. Because now William's life involves testing his blood at least 3 times a day. Shots of fast-acting glucose before every meal. A shot of slow-acting glucose every evening before bed. And, as we are learning, a few highs and quite a few lows. Low blood sugar. Low energy. Just feeling low.

Not only is William adjusting to a new chronic condition, he's also starting middle school. It's going to be stressful. And we've already seen what stress does to his blood sugar. It sends it low. I'm lucky. I mostly work from home. Which means I'm less than three miles away from the school at any given moment. I can run over with missing supplies. I can go hold a hand as needed. But I can't make this whole experience go away. Which, of all of the things William wishes for, is just that: Can you please make diabetes go away.

We've spent the past five months trying to adjust. We've tried to answer the "Why did I get diabetes?" question (his brother and sister were both tested and do not have markers for the condition). We can't. We've tried to answer the "What will happen to me?" We don't know, but we remain positive. We hope that doctors find a cure in William's lifetime. We tell William he's going to live a normal life, albeit one that involves needles and glucose. That he'll have his own family one day and everything will be great. The only difference will be that his family will always have a drawer filled with diabetic supplies.

As we enter the new school year, I make our lists. Mine are different than many parents', but my hopes are the same: that it's a good school year, that the year is filled with friends and laughter, and just for William, hopefully not too many lows. Of any kind. As I fill out the lists and lay out the clothes, ours are just the same as yours--only a little different. Diabetes has become a new "basic," our new normal.

I'm sure that the adventure has just begun.

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