Friday, December 29, 2006


Okay, so we're all still alive.

And, we've had no more "initially scary, but ultimately just-plain-odd" ailments. (Hurray!!)

Instead, we have had:

A visit from Gramma and the baking of festive cookies...

The stray chat with an old friend...

The opening of gifts...

The subsequent wearing of gifts...

And really, just loads of gratitude that we're all still healthy and happy.

I hope you all are feeling oh-so-very much of the same.



One might think that being home for the holidays would afford loads of time to blog-- and yes, to read the blogs of others.

Alas, that has not been happening.

At. All.

The family will simply not allow it.

Soooo, to those of you still checking in-- I promise a return to my (somewhat more) regular blogging schedule upon the conclusion of Joseph's winter break.

In the meantime, thanks for staying tuned!

Thursday, December 21, 2006


On Monday, Evan's doctor told us that most children with Transient Synovitis have it for at least a week-- while some kids recover in just a few days.

Well folks, my little girl is some kid.

Not only is she able to stand again-- but she's also walking, skipping, jumping and running.

All without pain.

Again-- Hallelujah!

Thanks to everyone who sent positive thoughts our way-- it helped knowing you were all out there thinking of my little one.

Now, I've fallen behind in my blog reading, and discovered just today that I've been tagged by Allison and Scott Strumello for my top five holiday songs.

So here now, a late entry for this meme:

1."Linus and Lucy" from Charlie Brown's Christmas.

Geez, that Linus can play! And you should see us doin' those cool Peanuts moves...

2. "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen"

I loved singing this song as a kid.

Still love to sing it.

3. "You're a mean one, Mr. Grinch" and "Welcome, Christmas" from "How the Grinch Stole Christmas."

(It's a tie, what can I say?)

"Christmas day is in our grasp
So long as we have hands to clasp"

Gets me every time.

4. "Santa Baby" by (the fabulous) Eartha Kitt

This is the original 1953 version. I love this song, and laughed when I saw that Allison & Scott both had it on their list (you two must hear Kitt's version -- if you haven't already -- and I promise I'll give Madonna's rendition a listen... ).

5. "(We Wanna See) Santa Do the Mambo" by Big John Greer.

It's not just for the holidays-- I run to this song year round.

If I don't get the chance to post before Christmas-- have a wonderful holiday!

Monday, December 18, 2006

What It Is...

After a thorough exam, X-rays of her leg and pelvis (in which she had to hold her leg in a horribly painful position) and a difficult, but necessary, blood draw (to rule out a septic infection and leukemia), we discovered that Evan does indeed have Transient Synovitis (inflammation and subsequent pain in the hip joint).

In Evan's case (as is common for many kids who get this thing) the pain is referred to the thigh.

Now, this condition usually occurs during or after a recent viral infection-- an infection that "triggers a process that leads to an immune response that affects the joints."

Triggers an immune response? Inflammation?


I'm not going down that road.

I'll just say that this thing is supposed to go away on its own-- usually within a week to ten days, sometimes longer.

That Evan needs to avoid putting weight on that leg-- no problem, since she's afraid to move it, let alone stand.

That we have to give her regular doses of ibuprofen, and carry her until she is without pain.

And hope she's better in time for Christmas.

What Is This?

Last night Evan limped into the living room, complaining of pain in her left leg. She sat down next to me on the couch and let me look at it.

No redness, no swelling.


"Honey, did you fall down? Did you bump into anything?"

"No, Mommy. It just hurts when I walk-- right here," she said, pointing to the top of her left thigh.

When I pressed on the area -- at first gently, then more firmly -- it wasn't tender at all. But when I tried to move her leg, Evan cried out in pain.

"Honey, it's gonna be okay-- we'll just have you rest that leg for a while," I calmly told her, hoping she couldn't hear a trace of fear in my voice.

While Ryan sat with her, I went online to see if I could find out what was going on.

After about 10 minutes, and reading of several frightening possible causes of "sudden acute pain in one leg," I think she has something called Transient Synovitis.


She has a cold (a respiratory illness is usually a pre-cursor).
She is in the high-risk age group for this.
Internal rotation of the leg causes the most pain for her.

If this is what's going on, then it should resolve in a week to ten days.

Now, some of you might think she's simply having "growing pains." This is unlikely, given that those usually occur in both legs, and do not inhibit mobility.

Also, I don't think this thing is what the nurse at her doctor's office thought it might be-- a swollen lymph node (there's no swelling or tenderness anywhere-- including the location of her lymph glands).

Of course there are the other possible causes-- the ones I won't even type here, because I'm tearing up just thinking about them.

Today, she can't even stand. And I'm worried sick.

We go in at 2:30 this afternoon to have her checked.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Four Years

Happy Birthday, Little One...

Thursday, December 14, 2006

And So It Continues...

Back in September, as some of you may remember, Joseph began "going out" with a girl.

Well, I thought I'd take a few moments and (finally) bring you all up to date on that situation...

One afternoon, the week before Halloween, Joseph climbed into the backseat of our car, buckled his seatbelt and said:

"Mom, it's over. 'A' broke up with me."

"Oh... are you upset?"

"Are you kidding?!" he said, as if I were insane for asking.

"I was pumpin' my fist in the air. Mom, she wanted me to spend all of my time with her. She didn't even want me to play four square at recess."

Needless to say, I was very glad to hear this.

You see, not only was the young lady making unreasonable demands of my eleven-year-old, but she'd also given him Axe "smell like a hunk of man candy" Body Spray for his birthday.


Further, the girl was calling the house constantly.

In fact, one evening she called several times during dinner (we never answer the phone while we're eating), without leaving a message. When we'd finished our meal, she called yet again.

This time, Ryan picked up the phone, asked her if she'd been calling, and then very firmly requested that if no one answers, "please leave a message rather than calling back repeatedly."

The next day at school she was very upset-- telling Joseph that his dad had "yelled" at her.

Joseph's response: "He didn't yell at you; he just asked you to leave a message. It was kind of annoying that you didn't... "

Sooooo, I suspect Ryan's little rebuke may have played a role in the break up.

Anyhow, my boy -- once again, a free agent -- felt it was time to approach the girl he really liked-- 'N'.

But when I picked him up after school the next day, Joseph informed me that it wasn't going to work.

"Mom, " he said, in a pained voice, "'J' told me that A told N not to go out with me."

"Well, they are good friends."

"I'm just really, really mad at A. She's tryin' to control my whole life!"

And so for nearly a month my son pined away for the lovely N.

Until he stopped.

Sure, he continued talking with her at school, making her laugh whenever he could. But for the most part, he just enjoyed hangin' with his buds, playing four square, "dueling" his friends with his Yugioh cards.

Basically, just being a kid.

Which brings us to yesterday-- when everything changed.

Moments before the school's winter concert, N walked up to my son, flanked by several girlfriends, and with a shy smile said:

"I just want you to know that I like you."

This photo about sums it up:

Shortly after the concert, Joseph told me of this new development.

"Does this mean you two are 'going out'?" I asked.

"No... I'm just gonna flirt with her and stuff," Joseph said, sounding very, very pleased.

So now-- it really begins.

Friday, December 08, 2006

The Chaperone

I push open the heavy glass door, stomp my feet to release the snow that's stuck to my boots, step inside and stand still a moment-- letting my eyes adjust to the bowling alley's dim lighting.

"Oh Sandra, I'm so glad you could make it," Ms. W says, as I walk toward a crowd of over a hundred fifth graders-- and try to spot Joseph among them.

"Sorry to be so late," I tell her.

"That's fine, we just got here ourselves-- this weather is terrible."

Looking around, I see kids all over the place, wrestling with their coats, struggling to take off their boots-- many appear excited, while some look as though they'd never seen the inside of a bowling alley.

What a cool idea for a field trip.

I'm assigned to Lane 4, where Joseph will bowl with three classmates.

As I make my way over to our lane, bowling shoes in hand, I see the four boys already there: Joseph, scouting out a ball, while his fellow bowlers sit on chairs attached to a small table-- the three of them laughing, as they manically glide those chairs in and out.

"Hey-- are you guys ready to bowl?"

The threesome looks up, smiles and continues messing with their chairs, while Joseph continues looking for the 'right' ball.

Scanning the place, I see that every lane is occupied by four kids and at least one teacher or chaperone.

"Attention, please!" announces the voice of Mr G (the P. E. teacher) over the speaker system.

"I know you're anxious to get started, but listen-- I want you all to remember what you learned in our bowling unit: step forward, follow the arrows, and whatever happens, no swearing. Okay then, let's bowl!"

The place suddenly erupts with the CRACK of 30 large bowling balls connecting with wood.

I stand behind the boys, offering encouragement as each one starts out with two gutter balls.

"It's all right. Don't worry about that-- you guys are just warmin' up. Take your time."

And before long, they all start making good contact with the pins.

Now, I'm so caught up in the boys' progress that I don't really notice the woman chaperoning the girls in Lane 5-- until she comes up behind me and asks softly, "Are you Joseph's mom?"

"Yes," I respond, half paying attention.

"He is just a beautiful boy... just adorable."

"Thank you," I say, giving her a quick smile, then turning to watch Joseph knock down eight pins, pump his fist and prepare for his next roll.

"Really-- " this mom continues, "he's just beautiful."

"Which one is yours?" I ask.

"Oh, mine is T -- right over there," she says, pointing to a tall, slender girl with a magnificent head of cornrow braids and the same large, dark eyes as the woman standing next to me.

"She's stunning."

"Thank you... but that Joseph is just so cute... really, really adorable..."

That's when I turn and look directly into those dark eyes of hers-- and for the first time, notice the tears collecting along her lower lids.

"Yes-- we think so, too," I say quietly, now giving her my full attention.

"My daughter told me about your talk, about Joseph's diabetes."

And before I can tell her that it's all right -- that he's doing just fine -- she says:

"I have diabetes, too-- I've had it for five years. Type 2."

"Oh, I'm sorry."

"It's all over my family-- my dad died last year from the complications. It was horrible."

"I'm so sorry."

Just then Joseph calls over:

"Mom! Did you see that?! I got a spare!"

"Bud, I missed it-- "

He looks crestfallen.

"But I won't miss your next one," I tell him, trying to smile.

All the while the mom standing next to me stares at Joseph with that same sad, knowing expression.

Turning back to her, I tell her that he's doing really well, that "he's got an insulin pump-- "

"He needs insulin? Oh, God."

And now I desperately want this woman to understand that he's okay-- that down the road, he's gonna be okay.

I try to get the words out, but again she continues:

"I just can't imagine a child having all of this to deal with... and those complications... "

Then she wipes her eyes with her two index fingers, slowly shakes her head, and returns to Lane 5.

And I just want to scream:


He is NOT gonna be like your dad.

He's not.

Shaken, I hear the sound of many pins crashing down, and turn to see my son leap in the air, as we get our first strike.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Meanwhile, At School...

Recently, as some of you may recall, we had a bit of a situation at school involving a bully.

I did indeed telephone Joseph's teacher (Ms. W) about this classmate-- the one with the unhealthy interest in my son's medical ID. She addressed the issue immediately-- sitting "L" down and calling the boy on his actions -- then scheduling our diabetes talk with the class shortly after.

According to Ms. W, the boy felt quite badly about what he'd done.


On the day of our talk, Joseph and I were to speak just half an hour before the kids would leave for home-- and thankfully, there were no other speakers scheduled. (That's right, this time I would not be following the Governor's wife.)

When I arrived, stepping quietly to the front of the classroom, I was immediately struck by the fact that this was a much bigger class than last year's group-- both in size and number.

Even their desks looked bigger.

Scanning the room, I saw many, many new faces-- and I noticed L sitting right up front. I lingered on him for just a moment longer than the rest -- giving him a serious, knowing look -- as I placed our black backpack on the desk in front of me.

Then I heard a chair scrape across the floor, looked up and saw Joseph making his way quickly forward.

Once by my side, he shot me a smile, then turned to face his classmates-- nodding and making eye contact with many of them -- while I pulled out his meter, a syringe, a bottle of insulin, an infusion set and The Calorie King.

Then I took a deep breath, looked up with a smile, and jumped right in:

"Well then, let’s start at the beginning, where diabetes starts-- in the pancreas.... anyone know where that is?"

Hands shot up, and Joseph called on each of them.

Together, we drew diagrams on the white board of a pancreas, the bloodstream, and a cell-- illustrating how insulin "unlocks" the body's cells, allowing glucose to get in so the body has fuel for energy. For growth...

And when I turned and asked them all what happens if your pancreas can't make insulin anymore, a pretty girl with large brown eyes responded immediately:

"Then you die."

For a brief moment, I stumbled. It was very strange-- almost as if the girl had hit me.

No, that's not right.

More like she'd hit my son.

Everyone was very quiet-- including Joseph.

And then I found my voice.

"Well, uh, yes-- but not if you can get insulin from someplace else."

And so we were back on track. Discussing the ways that Joseph can receive insulin, with him lifting his shirt to reveal his pump, his infusion site; talking about carbs and why Joseph must count them; explaining highs and lows-- and the dangers of both.

Yes, it was all going really well-- until the bell rang signaling the end of the school day.

And while none of the kids seemed anxious for our talk to end (they clearly had many more questions), Ms. W reminded us all that their buses were waiting.

"Everyone, you need to gather your things... now, I'm wondering if Joseph would be willing to answer questions tomorrow, after lunch," she told the class. Then turning to Joseph, "How do you feel about that?"

"Sure, that'd be great," Joseph told her, looking very pleased.

So the next day, when he called from the classroom during a late afternoon snack, Joseph held out the phone so that I could hear a chorus of voices shout: "HELLO!"

Then we figured out his bolus together.

"How did your Q & A go, Bud?

"Great, Mom. They all asked a lot of really good questions-- like if I have to sleep with the pump on and if it hurts. Stuff like that."

He paused for maybe two seconds, and then:

"Mom, it was good."

And as we ended our call, I heard another kid trying to get Joseph's attention, followed by those voices again:


Yup, it was very good.

Saturday, December 02, 2006


This morning I woke up early, threw in a load of laundry, booted up the laptop and discovered I was nominated for three Diabetes O.C. Blog Awards.

Thank you.

I am honored-- and in very fine company.

Please visit all of the nominated blogs-- there are some amazing, inspiring stories at each and every one.

Also, yesterday I was flabbergasted when I discovered that Art Sweet nominated one of my entries for a Perfect Post Award. I never realized these awards existed, and am glad I do now-- otherwise I never would have found this post... or this one. If you'd like to read more, go here.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

His Eyes

"Mom, the toys here are kind of lame," Joseph informs me after scouting around the crowded waiting room for something with which to occupy both himself and his sister.

He's right-- there's really nothing here for children over the age of two.

Ah well. The three of us sit quietly together, occasionally looking up at "The Incredibles," as the movie plays on a small television suspended above the back corner of the room.

My mind starts to drift as Mr. and Mrs. Incredible search frantically for their missing children... our last time here was two years ago, shortly after Joseph's diagnosis. I remember the ophthalmologist saying then that our visit would establish a good "baseline."

I also remember hating hearing him say that, fearing what the term implied.

After nearly half an hour, a young man wearing a crisp white shirt and a tag that reads, "Resident," steps into the room and calls Joseph's name.

The Resident ushers Joseph into a large chair flanked by some odd looking instruments, while Evan and I take the two empty seats in a corner of the small, darkened exam room.

Joseph is handed what looks like a large black spoon and instructed to cover first one eye and then the other, while reading a chart.

He'll be fine.

He's only had this thing for a little over two years-- it can't have touched his eyes.

The exam goes on for a very long time-- the young Resident seems friendly and confident, but there's something I'm not liking about him. Maybe it's how his manner changes when Joseph resists his attempts to put drops of a numbing agent into his eyes.

"Come on," the Resident says in a frustrated voice, "you're a big guy-- this is nothing."

Joseph tries to explain-- "I don't really care about getting shots," he says, clearly agitated, "it's just anything with my eyes really freaks me out and-- "

Before he can finish, the Resident pulls down a lower lid and tries yet again.

Once in, Joseph winces-- telling him the drops sting.

The Resident says nothing, just begins prepping another instrument.

The exam continues for about 40 minutes, until more drops are placed in Joseph's eyes.

"You all will have to sit in the waiting room for another 40 minutes, until his pupils are dilated."

"Will I need eyeglasses?" Joseph asks as we leave the exam room.

He gives Joseph an inscrutable look before responding:

"I don't think so."

I'm really not fond of this guy.

When we return to the exam room, the Resident shines a bright light into Joseph's now dilated pupils, and says "hmm... uh huh," turns to write something down, and then repeats the procedure several times.

All the while, I'm fighting a desperate urge to scream.

Finally, he pushes back his chair, flicks on the light, and starts talking to my son.

"Well, everything looks fine. Just fine... " -- and then his expression is suddenly very serious -- "... but you know that you have diabetes and keeping good control is important. You want to keep that A1c at 7 or below-- stay away from the 8s and 9s -- or else... "

Oh God, please don't!

"... you're going to have some eye bleeds."

I clear my throat, the Resident turns to me, ignores my stricken expression, and continues.

"I had a girlfriend with diabetes, and I know this-- you really want to stay away from those high blood sugars, those two and three hundreds."

Joseph doesn't look at the Resident, just listens to his words while frowning down at his hands.

Only minutes ago, his blood sugar was 247.

"Excuse me," I say loudly, "But I think we need to clarify what you mean by 'eye bleeds'," then turning to Joseph, "Honey, you're not literally gonna see blood coming out of your eyes, it's really-- "

"It's called a hemorrhage," the Resident interjects, helpfully.

"Yes, but it's not as frightening as it sounds" I say, casting a glare in his direction.

"Also," I continue, "while it's certainly important to work toward good blood sugar control, with diabetes you're gonna see some blood sugars in the two and three hundreds-- sometimes higher. It's just unavoidable... "

And now I'm looking directly into the Resident's eyes, "... the HbA1c will also fluctuate, especially in a growing child-- again, because there are so many factors that can influence that number."

The Resident says nothing more.

A few moments later, we're joined by Joseph's pediatric ophthalmologist-- an older, jovial man who immediately praises Joseph for his good blood sugar control.

"You know, I saw a teenager just yesterday who also wears a pump-- I think he's having some trouble figuring it out though. His A1c was in the 9's."

Hmmm... clearly, the apple doesn't fall far from the tree in this practice.

"Well, to be fair," I begin, taking a deep breath, "I'm sure that teenager is dealing with a lot of fluctuating hormones, which can have a tremendous impact on blood sugars."

"I suppose you're right. In medical school I remember seeing an illustration of some scales," the doc says, holding up his hands as if they were the scales, "and insulin was on one side and all the other hormones were on the other." He laughs a little, then turns to Joseph.

"Let's have a look." And after a brief exam, "Well, looks like we won't need to see you all again for another two years. Terrific job. Everything looks great."

As we leave the building, Joseph is very quiet.

"Bud, you're not worried about anything you heard in there, are you?"

"You mean, am I scared that my eyes are gonna start bleeding all over the place?" he asks, smiling. "No -- we already talked about this stuff. That guy was kinda ridiculous, though. It didn't sound like he knew much about diabetes."

Then he pauses a moment.

And as I look down into my son's beautiful, brown, healthy eyes -- he continues:

"But at least he could see that my eyes are okay-- gotta give him props for that."

Monday, November 27, 2006

Yet Another Reason To Be Thankful

The door bell rang, and suddenly I was nervous.

What if she's nothing like the woman in her blog?

I took a deep breath, and opened the door.

And there she was standing in front of me, smiling tentatively -- Rachel -- a person I'd grown to know and admire over many months.

Immediately, I gave in to an overwhelming urge to hug the woman.

Over cups of hot coffee, the two of us and our husbands spoke easily about our mutual love of cooking, about baseball and football, our changing hometowns, our histories....

And of course, diabetes-- with Joseph walking Rachel and her husband, Greg, through the workings of his pump, and Greg in turn sharing glimpses of his own experience living well with type 1 diabetes (something he's done for nearly 21 years)-- all the while, illustrating quite beautifully (and perhaps, unknowingly) the importance of a sense of humor in all of this.

I like these two, I thought-- still slightly amazed at the power of this online community to create new friendships between people who have never met.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

A Very Late Thanksgiving Post

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving.

We sure did-- though I'm afraid it didn't start out that way.

You see, our day began at 4 am-- when Ryan pricked Joseph's finger and discovered his blood sugar was 268.

Now, while this was certainly not a scary high number, it was still troubling-- given that Ryan had bolused a correction just two hours earlier to bring down a minor high (180).

Worse yet, when Ryan attempted to bolus yet another correction, Joseph's pump alarmed, displaying instructions to remove the battery, and then an error code and a "Call For Service" message.

Thus it was at approximately 4:03, that I opened my eyes to a bright overhead light, and my husband standing over me-- holding out a small lithium battery, as he calmly explained the situation.

It took several seconds for me to process what he was saying.

And then I leapt out of bed and made for Joseph's room, finding my son sitting on the edge of his bed looking exhausted and wearing a concerned expression.

"It's okay, we just need to put the battery back in to reboot the pump," I told him.

Ryan popped in the battery, screwed on the cap, then handed me the pump. But when I tried to program a bolus, I got a message that said the pump was not primed-- that's when I realized we needed to rewind, reload and re-prime the thing.

Once done, it appeared we were back in business. We then gave Joseph a corrective bolus of just .6 of a unit-- this rather than an injection because we assumed the rise in his bg was connected to the pump alarm (since he had a new infusion site that looked good and had worked well for the previous 12 hours).

As Ryan headed back to our bedroom, I started down the stairs.

"What are you doing?" he asked.

"I'm calling Animas." I said in an exhausted, angry voice. "There's no reason we should be the only ones awake at this hour-- and besides, we have no idea what that error code meant and the pump did say 'Call For Service'."

To their credit, I heard back from an Animas nurse within three minutes of my call.

After I explained what had happened, the nurse said that what we'd seen was a "general processing error-- nothing to be concerned about," and that they would replace the pump if we saw two more of those errors within 30 days of this one.

She also firmly believed that Joseph's post-correction high had nothing to do with the pump alarm, and was far more likely due to a bad infusion site.

Hmmm.... I didn't think so.

When we checked Joseph again at 6 am, his blood sugar had dropped significantly-- to 160.

By 7:30, he coasted in at a very nice 118.

Clearly, his site was still good.

Again, hmmm....

Anyhow, with this early morning excitement we'd apparently filled our stress quota for the day-- because the remainder of our Thanksgiving was perfectly wonderful.

We spent the afternoon and evening at the home of some very good friends-- talking and eating; eating and, well, talking.

The kids tossed a football in the backyard, and played for hours with our friends' new puppy.

It was lovely.

Oh and because I had no turkey to care for, I worked on this for the better part of the morning (post pump troubleshooting, that is):

An Almond-Kahlua Torte with a Bittersweet Chocolate Glaze.

This was my first attempt at a torte, and (surprisingly) it was really, really good.

In addition to the above, we had the usual fare-- turkey, stuffing, sweet and mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, apple pie...

And while Joseph had portions of almost all of it-- his blood sugars remained relatively steady throughout the day.

For that, I am indeed thankful.

But even more so, for these two...

... and for their amazing dad.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

The News

I tried to post this earlier, but Blogger was down...

He's fine.

Though I didn't find that out until 4:30 this afternoon-- seems his doctor was "in clinic and swamped all day today."

(Doctors never call you first thing-- it must be some unwritten rule.)

Anyhow, while anxiously awaiting his call, I decide to take the kids to see a movie.

It's the only way I can think of to stay away from the computer-- and to stop trying to will the telephone to ring.

Also -- because Joseph has the day off from school, and none of his friends are around -- I realize I have to get a grip. A distraction for me, and something fun for the kids is definitely in order.

Soooo, I take them to a matinee-- to see Flushed Away.

(Ignoring, of course, the turn-off-your-cell-phone request.)

Thus, at 1:30 this afternoon -- with popcorn, a diet soda, a box of Sno Caps and a (smuggled) reasonably-sized bag of M&Ms in hand -- Joseph, Evan and I take our seats in a nearby movie theater.

I'm doling out Sno Caps to Evan when the commercials begin-- it still irks me that they show these before the previews.

Anyhow, in mid pour I look up to see a close up of Jennifer Aniston wearing a serious expression, telling viewers of someone who "noticed a lump on her child's back." Quick cut to Robin Williams saying something about a child with severe headaches.

I know what's coming.

And there she is-- Marlo Thomas, talking about St. Jude Hospital.

About cancerous tumors.

You've got to be kidding me.

Immediately, I turn to Joseph. His eyes are opened wide and glued to the screen; his mouth, slightly open.

"Honey, I know what you're thinking. That's not the kind of tumor the doctor was talking about. Remember, your doctor said a benign tumor. That means not cancerous-- and that's not even what he thinks is going on. You have a slipped rib--nothing else."

I say these things in a firm voice-- hoping he doesn't detect even a trace of concern.

"Oh," he says, "Yeah, you're right."

Finally, the previews come on-- we talk about the ones the three of us want to see. And then watch the movie . . .

I struggle (unsuccessfully) to relax.

When we return home -- my nerves frayed -- I immediately phone his doctor's office.

An hour later, Dr. E returns my call, telling me that "Joseph's x-ray looked normal-- his rib bones looked just fine."

"Would a mass show up on the x-ray?" I ask.

"No, it wouldn't, but there was no evidence of any deterioration in the bones-- something we'd typically see if there was any sort of abnormal growth. Joseph is presenting, however, with the classic symptoms of slipped rib syndrome."

"Will this just resolve on its own?"

"It may. But there are adults who have this syndrome. They usually discover it because they feel pain when one rib rubs over another."


"But once they know why they're experiencing pain, they're far less concerned about it. This is really a quite benign condition."

Thank. God.

So while I'm not pleased that Joseph has yet another thing-- a potentially painful thing -- I'm relieved that he's okay.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

And Another Thing

"Hey, take a look at this," Joseph says, during the Packer game on Sunday.

Both Ryan and I turn away from the game and toward Joseph, who's leaning back on the couch-- the right half of his shirt pulled up, exposing his stomach and ribs on that side.

"See-- right here."

With his left hand, he's rubbing the bottom of his right rib cage. Then he removes his hand, takes a deep breath, and sure enough something is there-- a lump the size of a large marble.

I walk over and touch the lump gently with the tips of my index and middle fingers-- it's hard and movable.

And I have no idea what it is.

"Do you think I just have an extra bone?" Joseph asks, sounding almost hopeful.

"No, I doubt it, Honey," I say, shaking my head at him. "Does it hurt at all?"


"Well, I'm sure it's nothing to be worried about, but just the same I think I'll call your doctor tomorrow and see if he wants to have a look."

"It'd be kind of cool if I had an extra bone, you know?"

So I call his pediatrician's office the next morning and describe the lump to a nurse. She too has no idea what it could be, suggesting I bring him in on Wednesday.

And today, I find myself sitting with my kids in an examining room-- feeling as uneasy as I had over two years ago-- the day we discovered Joseph had diabetes.

"So how are you all doing?" asks Doctor E as he walks in the room.

"I'm good," says Joseph, "except I think I have an extra bone."

His doc laughs, saying "let me just take a look."

Joseph pulls up his shirt, and I watch as the doc pushes on the lower part of his rib cage, feeling the lump from a number of angles.

"Why don't you lie down on the examining table. I think I know what this is, but I want to get a better sense of this thing."

Joseph climbs up on the table, lies back and again, lifts his shirt.

After a few moments, the doctor turns to me.

"Well, I'm pretty sure that what we're seeing here is not really a lump-- it's actually the end of one of Joseph's ribs. It's something called a 'slipped rib'."

"Is this a common thing?" I ask, hoping he says "yes."

"No, not really."


"But I have seen it before." Then he turns back to Joseph. "Because you're young and still growing, the cartilage connecting your ribs is still very soft, making it easier for things to move around-- when you're older, this area becomes much harder-- more calcified."

"Should we be concerned about this?" I ask, holding my breath.

"Well, no-- "

Quietly, I exhale.

" -- unless, of course, the area becomes swollen. Then we would be concerned about a possible tumor."

I swallow hard.

"A tumor?"

"Mom, what's a 'tumor'? Can I tell everyone I might have a tumor?" Joseph asks, sounding a little nervous.

My head snaps toward my son.

"No, Joseph-- absolutely not."

"Okay, okay, " he says, laughing a little.

I turn back to the doctor.

"A tumor?" I ask again, weakly-- as tears crowd along my lower eyelids.

"Well, they're usually benign tumors made up of cartilage-- chondromas. But we'll want to keep an eye on this. I'd like to see Joseph again in about six weeks . . . "

I really wish he'd said 'benign' before he said 'tumor'.

"Hmm . . . I think I'd also like to get an x-ray today. Do you all have time?"

"Yes, yes. I have to bring him back to school right now, but we could come back after school, if that's all right?"

"That would be just fine. And I'll call you tomorrow morning to talk about the x-ray results."

So Joseph had the x-ray, and now it's just a matter of waiting for a call.

It's probably nothing. No big deal.

Just a benign something.

Though, a cursory Googling of "slipped rib" brings up descriptions of people in pain.

So really, until I know what this is, I need to stay the hell away from Google.

I just don't want him to have another thing.

Monday, November 13, 2006


I'm sitting at the computer paying bills when Joseph walks in the room.

"Mom, do we have any more dog tags?"

"I'm not sure-- why?"

"Well, I need a new one," he responds quietly.

I stop what I'm doing, turn away from the laptop screen, and look up at my son's face.

He's trying to look casual-- and failing miserably.

"What's goin' on, Bud?"

"This one is all bent," he says, holding out a silver dog tag attached to the chain hanging from his neck.

I lean over and immediately see that the metal tag is misshapen-- two large ripples now run across its surface.

"How did this happen?" I ask, a little shocked.

"Well, I was standing outside music with the rest of my class, and this kid -- L -- starts singing real loud so I tell him -- 'Be quiet-- you're makin' too much noise' -- mom, he really sounded bad, and it was annoying."

I've seen L before-- he's a big kid-- much bigger than Joseph.

"Okay, so then what happened?"

Joseph turns his head away for maybe a second or two-- still holding his dog tag between the thumb and fingers of his left hand.

When he starts talking again, it all comes out in a rush:

"He walked up to me and grabbed my dog tag, and started saying-- 'Hey, what's this, huh? Looks like plastic to me,' and then he just stood there lookin' at me, holding my dog tag in his hand, and then he squeezed it in his fist really hard . . . I don't know why he had to do that. "

"Honey, did you tell him what the dog tag means-- that it's your medical ID?"

"NO. It was just so STUPID!"

And now Joseph is fighting to keep from crying.

And I'm furious. Who is this boy? And what the hell is he doing with my son's medical ID?

I want to smack him.


It takes me a few seconds to calm down, and a few more to calm Joseph.

"Bud, I'm thinkin' it's time for us to have a talk about diabetes with your class . . .

And for me to have a talk with his teacher about this kid, L.

. . . you know, to make sure everyone understands what that tag means. How do you feel about that?"

"Yeah. I think that's a good idea. They need to know," he says, slowly nodding his head.

I look at him for a moment-- a little surprised.

You see, when school started, (as was the case last year) he'd dragged his heels about doing a talk-- wanting instead to wait until he got to know his classmates a little better.

Until they to got to know him better.

Now, Joseph does check his blood sugar in the classroom, and is not at all shy about letting people know when he's feeling low-- so his classmates aren't completely in the dark here.

But still, he's the only one -- in a school of several hundred kids -- who has diabetes.

I'm sure he felt that our talk -- especially given too soon -- might cause his peers to see him first as "that kid with diabetes."

A valid fear, I think.

But since he doesn't see himself that way, it's hard to imagine my son letting anyone else, either.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Another Day

He's 321, and cranky.

I can't really blame him. He's been high all night.

But thank goodness, no ketones.

And at least he's not low. He's had a lot of low blood sugars lately-- and some have been scary.

I twist off his insulin pump cap, pull out a half full cartridge of insulin, then press "Rewind."

Immediately we hear a whirring sound as the pump's threaded piston rod slowly spins down.

We're all very quiet this morning.

Even Evan says nothing as my hands move quickly-- tearing cellophane; puncturing a vial of insulin with a long needle; drawing fresh insulin into a new cartridge.

"Any air bubbles, Mommy?" she asks, lifting her head briefly from her brother's shoulder.

"Oh yes," I tell her as I repeatedly smack the side of the cartridge with a pen, and then quickly remove the needle and plunger from the cartridge, attach one end of a length of tubing to it, then insert a now full container of insulin into the pump.

I press "Load Cartridge."

As the piston rod whirs again-- rising toward the back of the cartridge -- I lift my head, and for a moment, just watch my two kids sitting together.

Joseph looks tired-- and wary.

He doesn't say a word.

Just waits for me to tell him it's time.

This is a ritual we repeat every three days-- sometimes sooner.

Like this morning -- when something is wrong.

When his blood sugar is dangerously high and isn't coming down.

"I'm ready, Bud."

Joseph puts Evan down, then I look to see where I'm going to insert the cannula-- the small (6 mm long) tube, or catheter that will be the entry point for the insulin coming from his pump.

He can do this himself-- has done it himself -- but prefers me to do it.

You see, he does so much of this stuff-- monitoring, figuring out carbs, thinking.

Always, thinking about how he's feeling.

With one hand, I hold the insertion device against the skin of his abdomen; with the other, I rub his back-- and breathe with him.

"Honey, now take a gentle breath in . . . and now a soft breath out. . . that's it . . . and now another breath in . . .

and then softly out . . . "

I squeeze the sides of the device, and with a loud snap, the introducer needle shoots into my son's belly-- he gasps.

Still holding the inserter against his stomach, I count slowly, "One.. two.. three.. four.. five.. " then pull out the long needle.

The cannula is now inside my son's body, and will (hopefully) remain there for another three days.

"Was that okay, Bud?"

"Sure, Mom," he says, but he's still wincing.

Sometimes it stings for a while after.

This is our life now-- or at least one piece of it.

The doctors said in the beginning that this would all become a routine.

"Like brushing your teeth," they told us. Just something we'd do.

Something he would do.

But you know, if we forget to brush our teeth, we don't get sick.

We don't die.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

A D-Blog Day Reminder

As most of you know, November is Diabetes Awareness month.

And tomorrow is the second annual D-Blog Day.

Gina over at Diabetes Talkfest started this thing last year when she called on all diabetes bloggers to post on November 9th in a show of support for fellow D-bloggers and for those readers whose lives are in any way affected by diabetes.

It was a fantastic idea that resulted in many wonderful posts.

But even more important, on that day -- and in large numbers -- people connected.

So please, write something.

If you have a blog-- then post.

It doesn't have to be earth-shattering (though it certainly can be), just something related to diabetes.

And if you don't have a blog, then visit the many amazing D-blogs out there, and please comment.

Tomorrow, let's all raise our voices together.

Once again, let's reach out.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Five Facts

Yikes! Ryan Bruner tagged me last week, and I'm just now getting to this. (We had a really busy weekend over here)

So here's the scoop-- I must reveal five relatively unknown facts about myself, and then tag five other people.

Here you go:

  • During a parent-teacher conference, my first grade teacher told my mom that I "walked with too heavy a foot" -- that apparently, I made an awful racket whenever I took my seat in class. This, despite the fact that I was the smallest kid in my class.
  • I'm a longtime fan of martial arts films -- I've owned a collection of Bruce Lee movies for over 20 years; saw Jackie Chan films at an art house theater in Chicago years before they were dubbed and in wide release; and -- even though Bruce Lee had been passed over in favor of David Carradine -- was crazy about the series, Kung Fu. (Yet I've never, ever taken karate. Go figure.)
  • Though I'm right handed, I cannot snap the fingers of my right hand. At. All. Nor can I "drum" those fingers in any sort of coordinated fashion. However, those fingers on the left can do both beautifully.
  • The only fist fight I've ever been in (outside of those with siblings) was when I was ten, and it was over a stray cat. She was beautiful-- white with large black spots that made her look very much like a little cow. I'd found her, named her (Spot) and was caring for her, when the girl who lived next door decided she wanted to take the cat for herself. A scuffle ensued, ending quickly when I slugged her in the stomach.
  • In the 26 years I lived in New England, I never ate fish-- just couldn't stand the smell. Shortly after moving to the midwest, I acquired a taste for seafood-- beginning with the raw variety (sushi is still a favorite).
And since I'm so late on this, if you haven't been tagged already and would like to be, consider yourself tagged!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

A Beautiful Day

I promised that I'd fill you all in on the rest of my recent trip to Massachusetts.

(Yes, I know-- this is very late.)

Soooo, where did I leave off?

Ah, yes . . .

. . . after a fabulous evening of birthday festivities, an evening that went well into the wee hours, my sister and I awoke early the next morning and drove 45 minutes (to the fine state of Rhode Island) -- so that we could take a walk.

With 4,000 other people.

This beautiful, sunny October morning was all about Type 1 Diabetes-- my son's disease.

It was about walking with those who understand intimately what it's like to walk every day in our shoes.

And drawing strength from their massive numbers.

It was about hoping for something that seems so far away, but nonetheless, just a little more attainable because more than 4,000 individuals were reaching for it together.

My only regret is that Joseph was not there with us.

(Though he and I are already plotting next year's trip.)

So why did I -- a Wisconsinite -- decide to participate in the Rhode Island JDRF walk?

After all, the JDRF holds the same event at venues far closer to home.

Well, it seemed more than a bit charmed that this event coincided with my sister's birthday party weekend-- and that Team Six Until Me would be among the many teams walking.

That's right, the OC's own Kerri would be there-- along with her mom and stepdad, her boyfriend, Chris, and members of his family.

Now when you read Kerri's blog, you probably get the impression that she is a kind, joyful, intelligent, down-to-earth young woman.

Well, let me tell you...

... she is.

All that and more.

Walking and talking with this amazing person filled me with hope for my son's future-- with or without a cure.

If he can grow up to be half this wonderful, he'll be just fine.

Now, I also got to chat with Kerri's mom-- sharing a hug, the joy of having strong, healthy children, and the feeling that we'll never stop worrying about them.

That we both hate this disease.

And if that wasn't enough--

After completing our 5-mile walk, I watched with immense admiration as Kerri's mom marched right up to the Governor of the state of Rhode Island, who stood at the Finish Line distributing high fives, and queried him about his stance on stem cell research.

Yes, the apple didn't fall far from this wonderfully strong tree.

And what about Kerri's boyfriend?

I found Chris to be a thoughtful, funny, enthusiastic young man who is clearly smitten. The easy banter and knowing smiles they shared were telling.

Oh yes, I definitely approve the match.

An added treat was getting to talk with Chris about his wonderful film, An Uzi at the Alamo (which I highly recommend), and getting a verbal sneak peek into a couple of upcoming projects that I'd love to share here, but think it best that he be the one to unveil.

The only real disappointment of the day-- and it was a big one -- was that Nicole was unable to join us. I very much wanted to meet her-- not simply because she was instrumental in the whole surpise party plot, but because so many times she has written things here (and on her own site) that have moved me.

Yes, I'm taking a raincheck on at least one hug and a quiet talk with that young woman.

So there you have it.

Coming soon (unless of course, something more pressing comes up): An update on Joseph's ever-changing love life... and then, maybe, we'll be all caught up.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Halloween Treats

Sunset behind our house last night...

... a perfect precursor to All Hallows Eve.

This year they both wanted to be scary.

The Gruesome ER Doc...

... and the Spider Princess

The kids (and a friend of Joseph's) have some scary fun
before the big candy haul.

And finally, a poem...

Joseph wrote this four years ago -- the day before his seventh birthday -- just a few weeks before Halloween.

I don't think I'd ever heard his classmates any quieter than they were the day Joseph read his contribution to the first-grade classroom poetry book...

The Graveyard

The graveyard is haunted, haunted, haunted.
The sound of witch's brooms.

And finally, Frankenstein
The monster.
His creator, Doctor Frankenstein.
Doctor Frankenstein loves Frankenstein.
Do you love Frankenstein?

The zombie, a relative of Frankenstein's.
The zombie is known for his bad behavior.
The dead are in the graveyard.
But they are not any dead.
They are the living dead.

The vampire awakes.
His cape darkens.
His mouth opens.
The coffin shuts.

The room is becoming very, very dark.
The werewolf howls.
The phantoms scatter.
The wind howls.
Ooooo. Ooooo.

The whomping willow
Swings its branches.
All the mummies
Dance with the ghost babies.
All the hideous beings.

The cup of goo.
The blood.
All the blood in the world.

All the monsters dance.
The graveyard is haunted, haunted, haunted.

Monday, October 30, 2006


His blood sugar was 130 just forty-five minutes ago.

I'm scrambling to get ready for our family night out-- we're going to have dinner with some friends at their new home.

While I dry my hair as fast as I can, the kids play downstairs in the living room. Ryan just ran out to pick up a couple of dvds (Monster House and Edward Scissorhands) for the movie portion of the evening. The kids will watch, while the adults will drink wine and chat. Everybody wins.

My hair is still damp when I switch off the dryer, set it down on the side of the sink-- and listen.


And suddenly, there it is-- that awful, sick feeling in my gut.

I take off down the stairs, turn toward the living room, and before I even enter the room, I see Joseph's legs stretched out on the couch.

Oh God.

Running to him, I have to skirt around Evan-- who sits quietly in the center of the room, playing with her Polly Pockets.

"Joseph, Joseph," I say as I take a firm hold of his shoulders, shaking them.

"Wake up! Honey, you have to check your sugar!"

He's not responding.

Still holding his shoulders, I lift up the top half of his body-- my heart slamming against my chest.

He feels so heavy.

"Please, Joseph! WAKE UP!"

"Wha- What? Okay, okay, okay," he says quietly, groggily.

He gets up slowly-- swaying a little as he makes his way to the kitchen. I'm right behind him.

After a cursory rinse of his fingers under the faucet, he turns to the counter where I have a test strip loaded and ready, his lancing device in my outstretched hand.

His eyes, still not completely open, seem to have trouble focusing as he pokes his finger, squeezes, and looks for that tiny bubble of blood. I hand him the meter.


"Should I have four?" he asks, sounding exhausted.

I get him four glucose tabs, and watch as he slowly chews each one.

Five minutes later, I ask him how he's feeling.

"Mom, you always do that. I just ate the glucose tabs. And I still feel low," he says in a tired, slightly exasperated voice.

After fifteen long minutes, Joseph's bg climbs to 91.

For a few moments I sit quietly, thinking about what just happened-- about what this kind of low means for my son.

And I'm really, really scared.

But then, I take a deep breath and return to our evening out with the kids, with friends.

Because right now, there's nothing else I can do.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

On Missing Those Cues

Thanks to everyone who responded to my previous post.

I understand what you're saying, but this is a real tough one for me.

Quite a while ago, I accepted the fact that we can't beat this thing-- perfection just doesn't exist. All we can do is work hard to peacefully co-exist with this disease -- highs and lows are inevitable.


But recognizing those low blood sugars-- the ones that Joseph can't feel himself -- has been something I could do well for a while now.

Sure, Joseph can be wacky when he gets around friends-- it's that whole adolescent-boy-humor thing -- but honestly, I can usually tell the difference.

It's in his eyes, the way his smile lingers a little too long, the hint of a slur in his speech, how his body moves just slightly off-kilter...

Missing this kind of low scares me-- because the ones he can't feel are usually those with the most potential to become dangerous (i.e., he's falling fast and/or the low doesn't come up after the usual treatment).

And, I'm afraid we haven't yet figured out the reason for these lows. Same thing happened yesterday and last night-- and we went way conservative on his lunch and dinner boluses.

He was 82 just two hours after eating lunch (?!), ate a pile of popcorn at school with no bolus, and was 60 just 30 minutes later.

Three hours later-- right before dinner -- he was 59.

The only thing that comes to mind is that we changed his set on Tuesday morning, and he's got some kind of uber infusion site going...

Which would be okay, but how do we explain the lack of any rebound highs? He's had multiple lows over the last two days, and yet none of the usual later rebounds.

I know it's only two days, but it's got me wondering this morning about what his liver is doing... where's that sugar it's supposed to spit out in response to these low blood sugars?

It's also got me a bit mad that we have to wonder at all about what our son's liver is doing.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Missed Cues

I know I promised a post about the RI JDRF walk-- that's still coming -- but something happened that I couldn't leave sit.

Last night, Joseph and I went out to dinner and a JDRF support group meeting with a fellow blogger (Jenny from Until a Cure) and her son, Tommy.

Several hours before we were to meet our friends, Joseph called from school to tell me he had gone low-- his blood sugar was 64 at at 2:45 p.m. This surprised me because he'd eaten an apple two hours earlier and turns out, had forgotten to bolus for it (in hindsight, thank heavens he forgot).

Joseph treated the low with several glucose tabs and 15 minutes later -- after his bg had climbed to 90 -- an additional 25 gram cereal bar.

He should be good until our dinner.

Or so I thought.

By 4:30 pm -- an hour and a half later -- his bg had once again fallen. This time, to 54.

What the hell?

He gobbled down four glucose tabs, and within 15 minutes his bg had risen sharply to 166.

All right, I thought, we're gonna meet our friends for an early dinner. Now he should be fine.

Less than an hour later we're sitting in a booth at an Italian restaurant opposite Jenny and Tommy.

Joseph starts acting really silly-- talking loudly to Tommy, saying things that make no sense, and cracking jokes about almost anything Jenny and I say.

Geez, this kid is bouncin' off the walls. He must be really glad to see Tommy.

(Bad assumption, I know.)

"Hey," Joseph says to our very pretty waitress, "do you have to go to school to learn how to be a waiter?"

"No," she responds with a smile, "we just learn on the job."

"How many plates did you break?" Joseph asks with one big 'ol grin.

"None," she says, again smiling.

"Joseph-- please settle down," I tell him quietly, my hand on his shoulder.

He begins repeatedly tapping me on the shoulder, giggling and getting Tommy to do the same to his mom.

I plead with him several times to settle down.

Eventually, Joseph is under the table-- Tommy joins him there for a couple of minutes. The two boys laugh, using the backlights on their pump screens to see under there.

I'm embarrassed. I can't believe he's acting so over the top.

When our waitress finally sets a basket of large, soft garlic breadsticks in the middle of our table, Joseph can't get enough of them-- he devours two in less than 10 minutes.

And after our plates of pasta arrive, my son immediately tucks in-- polishing off a plate of linguini in marinara in no time.

By the end of our meal, he seems far less out of control-- and at the JDRF meeting, completely himself again.


It wasn't until we got home -- when again he got that look, and started making some more uncharacteristic, off-color remarks...

When, after several protests...

"Mom, my combo bolus is still active... geez, it hasn't even been that long since I ate... you know I had some Starbursts at the meeting... "

I made him check his sugar, and discovered he was 76 and falling fast.

It was then that I finally realized what must have been going on at the restaurant.

He was crashing.

And I never saw it.

The very same mistake I'd gotten so angry about last year -- when it had been his teacher who never saw the signs.


Monday, October 23, 2006

Playing Catch-Up -- Part One

A week ago last Friday, I left Ryan and the kids for a weekend in Massachusetts. One of my sisters -- Teresa -- was turning 40, and I flew out to help her celebrate the occasion.

I originally intended to just show up at her surprise birthday party on Saturday night-- adding still more shock value to that event.

(I hadn't spent a birthday with Teresa in over a decade.)

Ah, but then I came up with a far more cunning plan:

I'd arrive at her house early on Saturday (while she attended her daughters' soccer games), make us two cups of piping hot tea, and be there to greet her when she walked in the front door.

We would spend the afternoon together. I'd tell her we had dinner reservations, and later, I'd say we had to make a side trip to a local tavern (the site of her party)-- enlisting the help of an online friend to get her there without suspicion of what was about to happen...

It was perfect.

(Can you see the hands deviously folding and unfolding?)

Now, Teresa was not the only one in the dark about this visit-- none of my six siblings and their families had a clue that I was in town.

None but Teresa's husband, that is.

I had to tell Bill. After all, he was the mastermind behind the surprise party.

Also, I needed him to leave the door to their house unlocked, and to make sure their almost two-year-old, 90-pound Golden Retriever "puppy" was not in the house when I arrived.

And yes, he's a jumper.

About an hour before Teresa and her family were expected home, a good friend (Sheila) drove me to Teresa's house. We pulled up, and the first thing I noticed was the lack of a very large dog.


"So Sheila, you don't have to run right off now, do you?"

She laughed at my trepidation, cheerily calling "here puppy, puppy" as she walked up to the front door. I trailed slowly behind, afraid that the sound of my small, black, wheeled suitcase rolling across the driveway might prompt a charge.

Walking in the door, my heart was pounding.

(Now, I feel the need to interject here that I am not typically afraid of dogs. It's just that puppies are so unpredictable. And large puppies, scarily so.)

Anyhow, still no sign of the dog.

"What's his name?" Sheila asked.

"Jackson," I whispered, not wanting my response to be mistaken for a summons.

After searching the house, and looking out the back door, I concluded that they must have taken the dog with them.

But then, I opened the back door for a second look, and like a magic trick-- he was there.

"Oh! Oh my God!" I shouted, closing the door on him as he was in mid pounce.

"You really are afraid of dogs," Sheila said, laughing and shaking her head.

"Sandra, he's wagging his tail-- he's not going to hurt you," she went on reassuringly, as she (not-so-reassuringly) headed for the front door.

So now it was just a matter of making tea and waiting.

And listening to the sporadic barks of a dog who really wanted to play.

Half-an-hour later, and I was still alone.

After dumping two cups of very dark tea into the sink, and dropping a second set of bags into those same cups, the tea kettle just nearing still another boil-- a car pulled into the driveway.

My brother-in-law ran into the house, shouting, "HELLO?" I stepped from behind the pantry door to see my 11-year-old niece, Alanna.

She screamed, her face a brilliant red.

"It's okay, Alanna. I'm gonna surprise your mom."

Bill quickly ushered Alanna out of the kitchen, saying: "Teresa's two minutes behind me. She's gonna pull in any second."

I poured hot water into our two cups, spilling at least half a cup all over the counter. Then I grabbed my cell phone and punched in her number.

"Hey, whaddaya doin'?"

"Just driving home from the girls' soccer games. "

I could hear her van pull into the driveway.

"So, what are you gonna do today?"

"Oh, I have to work on that grant proposal, again."

The dog suddenly starts barking. I try to cover the phone, hoping she doesn't hear him.

She pauses.

The front door opens, and she starts talking again:

"So, there's a couple more things I need to do before I can finish the grant."

"Reeally," I say as I round the corner of her kitchen, walk right on up to where she's standing in the doorway, cell phone glued to my ear--

"So, do you need some help with that?"

"What-the-hell-are-you-doing-here?!!" she rapid fires at me-- eyes popping, hands raised and trembling.

"It's your birthday, remember?"

"Oh. My. God. I can't believe you're here," she says smiling, still shaking, as I throw my arms around her.

The remainder of that day was spent keeping Teresa off balance so that she wouldn't suspect that a party was coming.

This was when Phase Two of "Operation Surprise-the-Heck-out-of-Teresa" kicked into gear:

Bill handed the two of us a gift certificate for dinner at an upscale local restaurant.

Then later, as my sister looked on, I read a very expected email from the OC's own Nicole:

Hey Sandra,

Hope your trip up is great...

I'd really like to see you while you're up here and
get you the little gift I have for Joseph - it's not
much, but I think he'll like it.

I thought maybe we could meet up on Saturday night
(tonight, really - it's after midnight) - if it's
convenient for you. I know you'll be busy, but Bob
and I were planning to head out to meet a couple of
friends for a few drinks - right in Franklin at Cole's
Tavern (I can google the directions for you, but maybe
your sister or brother in law knows how to get there -
it's on Washington Street) We're thinking of doing
that around 7:30 or so - maybe you could make it? Let
me know, OK...

Talk soon.


My sister, convinced we were there to meet Nicole, never saw the party coming...

Coming soon: Walking the RI JDRF walk, and meeting a real live member of the OC!

Friday, October 20, 2006

Okay, So It's All Good

All right. This is the first time I've had an opportunity to update you all on our situation.

(It's been really, really busy over here; Evan's been sick -- again -- poor kid, and Blogger has given me grief each time I've tried to post! Grrrr.)

So, while waiting for a call back from Animas, I spent all of Wednesday fuming-- getting more riled with each passing hour.

Oh yes, I was itchin' for a fight.

Well, folks-- I never got one.

In fact, the people at Animas reminded me yet again why I was so very glad Joseph had chosen their pump in the first place.

Wednesday night, I got a call back from a very apologetic Pump Support Manager. It seems that the person who sent me the offending email had forwarded my voice message (and a rather stern email I'd sent to her) to the Pump Support Manager-- who had been out of the office all day (thus the after-hours call back).

Anyhow, she explained that the email I'd received was the result of periodic audits done on "outstanding" product.

That in essence, I'd gotten a form letter.

"This is more than a little upsetting," I explained, "given the reason we had the loaner pump in the first place."

"Yes, I understand completely," she said. "My son wears an insulin pump-- I'd be very angry, too."

We went on to discuss details of our previous pump failures, and how well Joseph's current pump has been working.

"Well, it does sound like you have more confidence in your son's current insulin pump," she said, "but still, why don't we have you hold onto that loaner until 2007?

We'll just call you back after the first of the year and see how you're feeling then-- that way you can get through the holidays with no worries."

And that was it.

Oh wait, there's more...

I got a second call yesterday afternoon from Animas-- following up on my request for information about our last pump failure (I never did find out if the priming problems we'd had were just us or the pump). Seems it had been a malfunction-- an "intermittent connection" problem.

So, once again-- it's all good.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Animas (aka Johnson & Johnson) Plays Hardball

Last night-- the first time I had a chance to check email since coming back from a weekend away (another post coming on that), I found this in my mailbox:

Dear Mrs. Miller:

Our records indicate that Animas shipped you a pump on 09/08/2005. As per our correspondence, you were to return the pump, serial # 14-23604-10. As of today, 10/16/06, we have not received this pump.

As outlined in the return instructions sheet sent with the pump, you are responsible for returning the pump. If we do not receive the pump within the next 10 days, you will be billed for the cost of the pump.

If you have any questions regarding the return of the pump or need assistance, please call Pump Support at 877-767-7373, extension ____. Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.

Thank you,


RGA Coordinator

Animas Corporation

a Johnson & Johnson Company

1 877 767 7373 Ext. ___


First, I have never received any correspondence regarding our loaner pump. This note makes it sound as if they've been hounding me for months.

Second, the reason we have a loaner pump at all is because one of their pump support people left us high and dry going into a Labor Day weekend last year-- refusing to replace Joseph's pump, but promising us a loaner that Friday because we'd been having problems.

But then never sending us one.

By the end of that weekend, Joseph's pump was no longer functioning.

(This would be our second pump failure since Joseph began pumping the previous January.)

Soon after, we received two pumps-- Joseph's third in seven months, and then a loaner pump for backup.

And finally (can you hear my voice rising?), I've not heard from Animas on this since last December when a pump support rep called to see if we were ready to return the loaner, but then (given our past problems) agreed to let us keep it for two more months. By February, we were glad to have the backup pump-- Joseph wore the thing for two days while we awaited delivery of his fourth insulin pump.

His fourth pump in eleven months.

Right now, while waiting for this woman to return my call, I'm so angry I could spit.

A phone call, letter, or email, simply requesting return of the pump -- acknowledging why we had the loaner in the first place, and that things seem to be going well with Joseph's current pump (which is true-- we haven't had a problem in almost eight months) -- would have been entirely appropriate.

But this?

Tuesday, October 10, 2006


I'm sitting in a hard gray chair, sliding my hands up and down its chrome armrests.

Trying very hard to stay calm.

The kids, meanwhile, are having a blast.

Evan sits on Joseph's lap, his arms wrapped tightly around her waist, as he propels the two of them all over the exam room on the doctor's wheeled chair.

Evan cannot stop giggling.

What if it's like the last time? Or worse?

Finally, the door opens-- and there she is.

And my God, she's smiling.

Before she opens her mouth, I want to cry.

And then:

"How does 7.4 sound?"

I can't talk.

"Sandra, I really like what you're doing with Joseph's basal rates -- this is just beautiful. And Joseph, you've grown so much-- over an inch in three months."

"My goal is five feet," Joseph tells her with a grin. And then he jumps up off of her chair, puts Evan down next to me, and stands in front of the doc.

"Let's see if I'm as tall as you now."

She laughs, telling him: "Not yet, but really close-- by next visit for sure."


I know that he is so much more than what this number indicates.

But still.


I'm so happy, I could cry-- and though I didn't at that moment -- I'm crying now.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

I Am NOT Fond of This

So, about two weeks ago I began noticing a number of tiny moths flying about the house.

Sitting down to dinner one evening:


"We're always going in and out so much," I said, "and with it getting dark earlier, I'll bet these things are attracted to the lights."

We continued eating-- unphased.

But then one night, as I opened the pantry to grab some couscous:


At least half a dozen of them.

This is NOT right.

With a mix of anger and dread, I took everything off the top shelf of my little pantry, leaned in, twisted my head, looked above-- and saw them.

Dozens of the things-- perched like bats.

Oh. My. God.

Let me just say that -- in general -- I am not afraid of bugs.

I have encountered many an exotic specimen in my garden, and on occasion have even done the live capture so that my children could share the wonder.

But bugs that enter my house on their own accord.

Uninvited pests.

Creatures in my pantry.

My food.

No. Way.

Needless to say, I was mobilized.

Now, I could describe what I found in the depths of my pantry in glorious detail.

But quite frankly, my stomach is queasy just thinking about it.

Let's just say that every stage of development was represented.

So what are these things? And how did my pantry -- my house -- become infested with them?

Well, they're Indianmeal Moths, and they appear to have come from a forgotten bag of brown rice purchased from the bulk section at Whole Foods-- research tells me that "old" grains are prone to breeding the little creatures.

(Thus, I blame this breach on the fact that we don't eat nearly enough brown rice.)

Now, in addition to rice, these things seem to have a fondness for nuts (pecans purchased almost a year ago were a particular favorite) and sun-dried tomatoes.

Seems I have gourmet moths.

Anyhow, after taking apart my pantry twice-- vacuuming, scrubbing, and tweezing every tiny whole and crevice (then spraying 409 in every single opening).

After throwing away two large rubbish bags of food (essentially anything they could have gotten into).

My pantry is gleaming.

Exhibits A & B

And yet, I continue to find them.

Shown here, on my bedroom wall.

So now it's on to the pheromone traps-- these will only attract the randy males, but should help stop future generations.

In addition -- morning and night -- I inspect the pantry.

While home during the day, Evan and I go on the prowl-- my daughter actually thinks this is fun.

And as I type, something appears out of the corner of my eye...


Gotta go.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

A Little Self Disclosure

Evan is sick. We have a bug problem. And Joseph's love life is getting just a little too interesting.

Details coming soon...

In the meantime, how about a Meme (courtesy of Penny)?

1. Do you still have tonsils?

Indeed, yes.

Despite chronic tonsillitis as a child and having been told by a pediatrician (who didn't subscribe to the then popular "pull 'em" philosophy) that mine were "certainly on the large side."

2. Would you bungee jump?

Never-- can't stand being upside down.

Freaks. Me. Out.

3. If You Could Do Anything In The World For A Living What Would It Be?

An artist . . . who also writes . . . who happens to be a world class chef . . . with a thriving midwifery practice . . .

4. How many tattoos do you have?

None-- never liked needles.

Ironic, eh?

5. Your favorite fictional animal?

Three-way tie:

Bugs Bunny, Bullwinkle J. Moose and Ren.

6. One person that never fails to make you laugh?

My sister, Teresa.

The woman slays me every time I talk with her. Every. Time.

7. Do you consider yourself well organized?

Depends on the situation.

8. Any Addictions?

Love the sugar and "white" carbs-- am working to change that, though.

9. From what news source do you receive the bulk of your news?

Two weekly magazines-- The Nation (yup, I'm a lefty) and The Economist (love to get world news-- and from a perspective outside of this country). And of course, the internet-- mostly from Salon.

Newspapers annoy me. Too many ads.

10. Would you rather go to a carnival or circus?

A carnival-- you get to do something, not just watch.

11. When you were twelve years old, what did you want to be when you grew up?

An artist.

12. Best Movie You've Seen This Year?

The only one that comes to mind at the moment is Dr. Jack. Just watched it the other night with Ryan and the kids.

Harold Lloyd was a genius.

13.Favorite alcoholic drink

A glass of really good red wine.

14. What is the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning?

Pour a cup of coffee.

Yes, yes, I'm back on the coffee-- but only two cups a day.


15. Siblings?

Six -- three boys, three girls.

16. What is the best thing about your job?

Being a stay-at-home mom means I don't miss any of the milestones, and I have plenty of time to just play with my kids.

17. Have you ever gone to therapy?

Yup. One of the best things I ever did for myself.

18. If you could have one super power what would it be?

Fly. I'd really like to fly.

But being super strong would be cool, too.

But if I could heal, well then, that would trump both.

19. Do you own any furniture from Ikea?

Yes. A few small things, and a fabulous chest of drawers I found for Evan at a yard sale. It came from IKEA.

Man, I wish I didn't have to go to the next state to visit an IKEA store.

20. Have you ever gone camping?

Only twice-- just last spring to the School Forest with Evan, Joseph, and his classmates.

And eleven years ago, when I was pregnant with Joseph.

21. Gas prices! First thought?


And then-- hmmm... they're coming down . . . we must be coming up on an election.

22. Your favorite cartoon character?

The Tick.

23. What was your first car?

A used white '74 Dodge Dart Sport (said in your best New England accent).

It had a fabulous red stripe, and I loved that it looked so much like Starsky's striped tomato.

24. Do you think marriage is an outdated ritual?

Absolutely not.

25. The Cosby Show or the Simpsons?

The Simpsons. Though I do love Bill.

26. Do you go to church?


27. What famous person would you like to have dinner with?

George W. Bush. I would let him know exactly what I think of his presidency.

And it wouldn't be pretty.

28. What errand/chore do you despise?

Laundry. For the same reason Penny cites.

The act of doing it doesn't really bother me. It's the relentlessness of it. At times, I feel like Sisyphus as I haul that laundry basket upstairs yet again.

Knowing it's just gonna be refilled and is comin' back down the next day. Ugh.

29. First thought when the alarm went off this morning?

The "alarm" was Joseph waking me to help him gather supplies for an after-school outing.

First thought-- "What a beautiful kid."

30. Last time you puked from drinking?

Just once-- twenty-four years ago.

31. What is your heritage?

French, French-Canadian, Irish and English.

Mostly French/French Canadian, though.

32. Favorite flower?

Yet another tie-- Dahlias (in all of their brilliant colors) and Black-eyed Susans.

33. Disney or Warner Bros?

Warner Bros. Definitely Warner Bros.

34. What is your best childhood memory?

Probably walking around our block with my little sister, Teresa, telling her stories about what we were going to do when we grew up (we did this all the time) --while sharing a stick of Big Buddy Bubble Gum that I would fold neatly in half before breaking so that we'd have exactly the same amount.

35. Your favorite potato chip?

Zapp's Cajun Dill Potato Chips.

They come from Louisiana, and they're awesome!

36. What is your favorite candy?

Dark Chocolate.

Anything dark-- but especially from here.

37. Do you burn or tan?

Generally, tan.

Unless I do something stupid.

38. Astrological sign?


39. Do you own a gun?


40. What do you think of hot dogs?

I try not to. Especially if I'm eating one.

There you have it. Feel free to join in the self-disclosing fun.

Vivian did.