Monday, December 05, 2005

Shooting Down

Late yesterday afternoon, just before sunset, Joseph and I went sledding alone together for the first time in years. We drove to the largest sled hill in our neighborhood-- a massive, two-tiered bowl behind the local middle school. I'd never been there before-- when he's gone to this site in the past, Ryan was usually the one to accompany him.

Yeah, I'm a bit of a chicken when it comes to sledding.

So it was no surprise that, as I parked our car on a side street next to the school and got my first look at these hills from a distance, I was scared.

Aside from the much tamer hills at a nearby park, I really hadn't gone down anything like these since I was a kid.

It was 4:00 as we hiked across the snowy field that lead to the base of the steepest hill in the bowl. And Joseph grew more excited with each step we took.

"Mom, when I came with dad last year we usually went down the longer hill. This one kind of freaks me out, but today I think I want to try it."

Deep breath. "Okay, let's give it a go"

"Oh, and Mom?"


"Sometimes people kind of crash into each other here. You kinda can't avoid it."


So we climbed. Up, and up.

And up.

Until we reached the top, turned and looked down. At this point, we both paused a moment.

"Are you sure you don't want to go over to that longer hill?" I asked, only slightly hopeful, thinking:

What if he crashes into someone? Man this is high! And steep...

But, at the same time:

Boy, look at these people... you just fly down this thing. This could be really fun...

Without giving me an answer, my son leapt onto his bright red toboggan and shot straight down, hit a bump midway, caught some air, then continued down and across the field we had just traversed.

I was next.

Gently, carefully, I lowered myself onto the round "snow tube" we'd borrowed from a friend. It felt comfy, like something you'd sit upon while floating down a lazy river.

"Come on Mom!" Joseph shouted, while slowly making his way back up the hill.

"Just go! It's all clear."

Not wanting to disappoint my son (and really, a bit excited by the prospect of the virtual free fall I was about to experience), I pushed off.

Straight down, I went (while my stomach flew up). Then over that same bump.

And my God, for a split second I was flying.

And screaming.

And gulping mouthfuls of snow as I reconnected with the hill, spun around, and rode down the remainder of the slope backwards.

When I finally came to a halt, many, many yards from the base of the hill, I couldn't stop laughing.

So, for the next 45 minutes, Joseph and I took turns with the toboggan and tube. And rode down together on the toboggan countless times -- me sitting in back, holding tight, with my son leaning against my chest. And every time we hit bottom, we'd look at each other-- snow covering our jackets, our hats, our faces-- and just laugh.

We hadn't laughed together that much in a long time.

As we climbed the hill after our umpteenth ride down, a boy hiking next to us called over to Joseph.

"Hey, I know you. You go to Lincoln."

"Yup, that's right." Joseph responded. Then the other kid climbed on up ahead of us.

"Hey," I said, "Are you embarrassed to be here with your mom?"

"No. Not at all. Mom, it's more fun. Let's go!"

Continuing our trek up hill, I suddenly felt light. Light as air.

Again, we shot down. But this time, after we came to a halt, Joseph didn't stand up.

"Mom, I'm feeling a little low."

"When did you start to feel it?"

"Just before we got on the sled, but I figured it'd be better to wait til we got to the bottom."

He was right. The meter was in the car. Parked what seemed like miles away.

"Okay, I'm going to run and get the meter. "

I ran, through several inches of snow that felt like quicksand.

All the time, thinking:

It's getting dark. What if he's really dropping fast. And he's alone. Please don't let this be bad...

And as I got to the car, I realized that I had the glucose tabs in my pocket.

Oh my God.

I got the emergency bag, turned and saw Joseph sitting across the field-- waving, to let me know he was okay.

When I made it back to him, I told him to stick a finger in the snow, then wipe it on my denim snow pants. As he removed his glove, his hand shook even before his finger hit the snow.


"Okay, maybe the water from the snow diluted your blood. Let's just do a dry finger from your other hand."

It had to be a mistake.


"Mom, I'm scared." He looked fine, except for the shaking. And the fear.

"Honey, I'm gonna have you eat this tube of cake icing. Then we're gonna have some glucose tabs."

He sucked down the icing fast, then gobbled down four glucose tabs.

After several minutes, I just wanted to get him home. Out of the cold. The crowd on the hill had thinned considerably, as a thin sliver of moon shone bright in the clear sky overhead.

It was quiet where we sat. No one within shouting distance.

I had to get him home.

"Do you think you can make it to the car? I'll help you, okay?"

"Sure, mom," he said, suddenly looking so young, so helpless, but at the same time, so damn brave.

I carried the sleds, and held fast to Joseph as we trudged through the snow.

The longest walk I've ever taken.

Once home, 20 minutes after 21, Joseph's sugar had risen to 127-- normal range. Out of danger.

But I really couldn't say when my heart rate did the same.


Elizabeth said...

How scary that must have been for the two of you! I know what that's like from snowboarding. My brother saved me with a push pop. I just got my snowboarding jacket out and I found it. It's nasty, but it saved my life! I'm not ready to part with it yet. :)

21 is a very low number. The few times I have been that low have been some of the scariest of my life. I am so glad to hear that everyone was OK.

Andrea said...'s amazing how things can change so quickly. One minute you are having a blast with your son, enjoying some wonderful quality time, the next you are scrambling to help your son deal with a very scary LOW. I've been down into the low thirtys, but to be down to 20ish has got to be extremely frightening. Thank God, you were there, were prepared for such a situation, and, most importantly, that he's ok. I know that must have put a little bit of a damper on things, but I'm sure that your son still had fun and enjoyed his time with you.

Penny said...

It's so darn unfair that our kids can't just be kids without worrying what it is doing to their sugars.

Jamie said...

God Sandra - I almost stopped breathing when I read what his sugar was. We had a scare today too, and my God, an hour later my heart is still beating too fast!

It is unfair that crap like that happens when you are having so much fun. BUT, I'm glad you guys did have fun - it sounded like a real blast :)

Take care.

Anonymous said...

The horrible low notwithstanding, thanks for reminding me that "high" is the top of a delicious snow covered hill.

Its snowing in D.C. now.

I need to find the highest hill I can find.


Melissa said...

I can barely breath in this moment, and I am at such a loss for words. Thank God you were with him. I just hope one day he will be able to go out and play and never have to worry about things like this.

I am so tickled that he still loves being around his mom, because you are a REALLY good one. I love moms. I love my mom and other peoples moms and when the NYU students get picked up for the holiday's I love their mom's too. Maybe its because mine is 3000 miles away.

Violet said...

So glad he's okay, Sandra. Wonderful job.

I bet the part he remembers a few weeks from now is the joy of zooming over the snow...

Kerri. said...

Twenty one is Officially Scary Low. And it's amazing that sometimes a bloodsugar of 60 mg/dl can knock us off our feet, but the amazing resiliance of the body and it's adrenaline can keep us functioning well beyond when we should be.

Diabetics are pretty damn bad-ass.

Here's to sledding.

Shannon said...

Doesn't it stink that you just can't have a good time without something happening with lows, highs, etc.?

Fun is a slave to diabetes.

My son's endo said that she sees more lows during the winter months when kids are sledding and skiing than at any time of the year (even summer!).

Erica said...

Wow that is scary... I'm glad everything ended up okay.

What I really took away from your story is how great it is that your son thinks his mom is cool and wasn't embarrassed to be out sledding with you. You must be doing something right ;-) Hold onto these times with everything you have!

Alexandra said...

Oh my goodness! When I read your entry I almost cried. That must have been so scary! 21!?!?! I've been that low before and it is scary. Hope the little scamper is doing ok.
Hey! By the way, I live in the cheese state too! (Not that you really care I just noticed you were from WI too.)

Sandra Miller said...


Hey, of course I care!

Feel free to email me directly if you'd like to chat-- you're the first Wisconsinite I've come across via this blog!

And yes, you and others who've commented are right-- 21 IS a scary low. Joseph's never been anywhere near that low before. But as Kerri points out, diabetics are "pretty damn bad-ass." And my 10-year old boy is no exception.

So will this insane low keep us off the sled hills?

Absolutely not!

Sure, we're both still a little shaken by what happened (me more than him, it seems). But we just need to be better prepared-- pull back the basal, load up -- even more than we did that day-- on the carbs. Keep emergency supplies on ME, instead of in the car...

Because, you know, sledding rocks!

Wil said...

Sandra--Yikes! What a beautiful and yet scary story. How quick our lives go from joy to terror back to joy again! Thank you for sharing!