Friday, January 27, 2006


There it is. The clinic’s number on caller ID.



“Yes?” I say. Breath held. Heart pounding.

“It’s Dr. Connor. Everything came back just fine– perfect, in fact. These are the kind of test results I like to see sitting on my desk.”

For a couple of seconds I can’t speak.

And then, a barely audible “thank you” is all that comes out.

“Now," the doc goes on, “the fact that Joseph is so slim, just probably means he’s going to be a slim guy. Really, Sandra, you have nothing to worry about. You all are doing a beautiful job.

I hang up the phone, sit down, place my hands over my face, and cry.

Harder than I have in months.


Remember this post.

Yeah, the one where I mention that Joseph hadn't really grown since his last endo visit. I was supposed to bring him in within a month for a first-thing-in-the-morning blood draw.

Well, I finally did it. Last week.

Why the hell did it take me so long? Me. The woman who tries desperately to be proactive in all of this. Who refuses to be blind-sided again.

I was scared.

There, I said it. Scared. Just waiting until the outer edge of that timeframe to have those tests done. Because, damn it, if there's something else going on I just don't know if I can handle it.

I don't know if he can.

So what's been going on? Well, we enjoyed the holidays.

And Joseph returned to school energized: playing soccer at recess; reading like a fiend for the school's upcoming "Book Bowl"; winning the first chess-club tournament; practicing cello every night; and beating his new Lego Star Wars video game.

While I've been hiding out from those tests and what they might say.

Did I mention that Joseph looks thinner to me? His collar bone more prominent?

That's how I knew before. When he became diabetic.

Maybe it is just the high sugars from a couple months back. He's had a lot of those more recently, too. Maybe it's just that "leveling off" that comes on the cusp of puberty -- as his endo suggested.

Maybe not.

Regardless, today I know his endo has the results on her desk -- waiting for her interpretation. That's what they told me yesterday when I called in a panic because it had been a week-- and nothing.

They told me that one of the tests took much longer than the rest, but it was now in there. Just sitting on her desk.

So today, we wait.

Monday, January 23, 2006

A Not-So-Nice Friend Story

Last week, I read Allison's wonderful post relating a very touching conversation that illustrates the value of a sensitive, caring friend.

Someone who "actually gives a damn" about the needs of a friend with diabetes.

Frankly, the post struck a chord -- big time -- when Joseph was confronted with a stark contrast to its contents just three days later.

He called at the usual time to give me his pre-lunch sugar, sounding a little unhappy-- this, despite the fact that his bg was just fine.

So I asked if something was wrong.

"Yeah, Mom. Sam's mad at me, and I really don't know why."

Sam is one of Joseph's closest friends, a boy with his own troubles (his parents divorced almost two years ago) who comes to our house at least once a week.

Joseph likes Sam very much.

"Joseph, have you asked what's buggin' him?"

"Yeah, but he just keeps acting all annoyed. I apologized, even though I don't know what for, but he's still just acting all mad. He was teasing me while I was playing this game on the computer in class, saying--

'Nick is better than Joseph. Nick is better than Joseph.'

It was weird."

I agreed. That was kind of strange. These boys are almost inseparable in class.

"Well, honey... try not to let it bother you. Sam might just be in a funky mood today."

And with that, Joseph went off to lunch.

But then...

Joseph called back 30 minutes later to confirm his bolus.

This time, he sounded upset.

"Mom, Sam's being a real jerk! At lunch, Kristel gave me her chicken teriyaki and rice... you know how that's my favorite? Well, I got to eat two of them today."

I could feel him smiling through the phone as he said this.

But then, just as quickly, I knew the smile was gone.

"Hey, that sounds pretty cool to me."

"Yeah, I know. That was great, but Sam wanted more chicken teriyaki, too. He was sitting at another table and saw that I got more, and... "

This is when his voice caught.

"... he just started saying really loud--

'Joseph thinks he's special cause he's got Di - a - beeee - tees.'

Over and over, real slow. Just like that."


"You know how I can take most teasing, but I really don't like it if anyone teases me about my diabetes? Well that's what Sam did... and I just don't know why."

The desperation in his voice was unmistakable.

And with that desperation, came the fury of a mother who wanted, more than anything else, to ring the neck of the child who her hurt her son. A child who has watched Joseph struggle through countless highs and lows.

I wanted to have a "chat" with Sam. Because, by God, it was almost unfathomable to me that a FRIEND would taunt my son about his disease.

A close friend.

Yes, he's only ten. But come on.

So, as Joseph continued telling me how this hurt him... how Sam told him after lunch that he was "getting [Joseph] back for 3rd grade," but refused to tell him anything more than that...

As my son continued to unload his pain and confusion, I struggled to pull myself together. To remember that I'm a mother, not a vigilante. That I need to help him deal with this kind of thing, because it will surely not be the last time someone teases him about having diabetes.

But damn it, why'd it have to be his friend?

"Joseph, Sam's got something going on. Maybe he felt left out because you were playing with other kids on the computer this morning. Maybe something's going on that we're not even aware of. Regardless, what he said to you was wrong. And, while we can try to understand it, there's still no excuse for it."

"Yeah, mom. I know."

"I know you know. But you need to let Sam know."

And so he did.

Later that afternoon, he confronted Sam about what he had said. According to Joseph, Sam apologized and now they're "okay."

I was glad to hear it.

But here we are, days later, and (though I haven't told Joseph) I'm still upset.

My son just doesn't need this kind of hurt.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

An Unexpected Treat

Yes, for a very long time I dreaded these.

And sadly -- for an equally long time -- Joseph came to expect my trepidation. Bracing himself, I'm sure, for the myriad questions that had to be asked before he could tuck in.

Yeah, those treats, especially the ones presented to my son when I wasn't there to actually see them. You know, to gauge the carbs based on size, thickness of the icing . . . those always threw me into a state of internal panic.

Well, what a difference almost a year and a half living with this disease can make.

Last Friday, Joseph called at the usual time to tell me his pre-lunch bg, and to confirm his post-meal bolus.

He was 158.

And his lunch carbs were 65 grams. School lunch that day was corn puppies, mixed vegetables, and fruit snacks.

Fruit snacks?

"Did you eat the fruit snacks?"

"Well, yeah mom, of course. Who wouldn't?"

"Okay bud, let's get that bolus on board."

As I was about to hang up, Joseph stopped me.

"Mom, wait! Sergio's dad brought in cake and ice cream for his birthday. We're gonna have it after lunch, at like one o'clock."


"All right. Just look it over, and give me a call from the classroom."

No negotiating. No wondering if I should come up with an alternative.

30 minutes later . . .

"Okay mom, here's the deal. The cake slices aren't real big-- it's chocolate with chocolate frosting -- so I'm guessin' maybe 38 grams for the cake, cuz it's probably like a small cupcake. The ice cream is 16 grams a half cup. So that means we're up to 54 grams . . . mom, this is so great!"

"I'm sure it is, bud," I said, smiling. Only slightly anxious about what this treat will do to him.

Because as he's talking, factors are being accounted for in my head:

It's early yet. And, it's a beautiful day, so he'll have a longer afternoon recess; he's going to run some of this off.

That'll be good. Very good.

Though he's also just had a sizable lunch bolus, so we've got to watch the stacking that always seems to smack us when he boluses for carbs eaten on the heels of an earlier food bolus . . .

But my God, this is just wonderful for him.

"So, my bolus is 2.55. Should I go?"

Man, that's a lot of insulin on top of 3.1 units for lunch.

"Yes honey, go. But if you're feeling at all low, make sure you tell someone."

"Mom," he said, with a laugh, "I always do."

I could just see him shaking his head.

"Oh, hey mom, we're also having gummy worms."

Without hesitation, I look them up in the Calorie King, and give him carbs for the worms; he decides to devour three of them.

"This is a great day, mom!"

And just like that, he's back to the party.

You'd have thought it was his birthday.

Sounds like a wonderful story, right?

Well, I didn't have to wait long to see how we did . . .

At 2:15, the phone rings.

"Mom, I'm 49," Joseph says, in a clearly disappointed tone.

"Honey, it's okay. That was a pretty big bolus right after your lunch insulin. I'm not too surprised you're low. Just take 4 glucose tabs and we'll check again in 15 minutes. Do you feel all right?"

"Yeah, I'm okay. Just kinda mad."


But then, 15 minutes later, Joseph was 88. And feeling much, much happier.

Of course there was a rebound later (into the 200s), but by dinner time, he was back on track.

And going to bed, he was 138.

Looking back at his afternoon sugars, this would not be one of his better days.

Not at all.

But if you asked Joseph about this day, he'd say it was perfect. Not simply because he got all those treats, but because he didn't have to be different.

As a longtime perfectionist, I would never have viewed that kind of day as anywhere near perfect.

But things change.

And because they do, my definition of a "good day" for my son has come to include those in which his bgs may not always be where we want them-- but he's happy, nonetheless.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Feeling a Little Random Today

A very tardy, really random Five...

Random Fact #1:

John Astin once yelled at me.

That's right, Gomez Addams.

A much younger, totally star-struck Sandra recognized him while he was directing actors on location at Venice Beach, California.

I was with my sister, Teresa. We thought we'd just stroll along with the rest of the walk-on's in the scene . . . . didn't think he'd notice.

Uh huh.

Random Fact #2:

About eight years ago I had a rather large mole inadvertently removed from the back of my left shoulder by an overzealous, laser-wielding dermatologist.

I still miss that mole.

Random Fact #3:

This one is for those who've ever wondered about the "Artist" part of my internet moniker.

Many years ago, I decided with absolute certainty that when I grew up I was going to be an artist.

It took over 20 years for me to remember that fact.

Random Fact #4:

As a result of the above long-overdue epiphany, almost four years ago I tried sculpting in clay for the very first time-- taking a basic "sculpting-with-clay" class.

The first assignment was to make a small bowl. Part way through the class, I didn't like what I was making. So I collapsed the thing, and saw something very different -- something quite unexpected -- in the clay.


Three months later, I was pregnant with Evan.

Life imitating art, I guess.

Random Fact #5:

Once every few years or so I buy myself a can of Deviled Ham, spread some of this canned-meat-of-my-youth on two slices of white bread, spruce it up with a few leaves of lettuce, and tuck in.

Savoring each and every bite.

But when I'm done, well, I just feel kinda sick.

To continue the random fun, I'm tagging a trio of moms:

Jamie at Olsen Family Diary
Penny at my son has diabetes
and Vivian at DanielDoo

Have fun, ladies!

Friday, January 06, 2006

If Given the Means to Cure...

Tiffany, over at Candid Diabetes, posed an interesting two-part question to her readers. I suggest you go read the wonderfully articulated scenario she presents on her blog.

Now, because my own response was becoming post-size, I decided to just post it here.

Part one of her question, in a nutshell, asks:

If given the chance, would you agree to take full responsibility in leading an effort to cure disease--commanding a budget in the billions, and working with the world's leading specialists -- with the understanding that you will only learn of the project's limitations after you've accepted the challenge?

Yes, I believe I would.

Part two contains the catch:

If you've accepted the job, you are then told that you can only cure one disease. Which would you choose and why?

Okay, someone is going to hand me billions of dollars and the ability to cure only one disease?

I dream of this scenario every day.

Diabetes, hands down.

Reason Number One (and it's a purely selfish one):

I'd do ANYTHING to take this away from my son-- even incur the wrath of those who might make a different choice.

Reason Number Two:

Millions struggle with this disease every day-- many without the resources to buy an insulin pump, a decent amount of test strips... many without access to the information and support needed to prevent future complications.

Yes, diabetes CAN be managed well. But not by all who have the disease. And for those who can't, it can be as horrific as some of the worst diseases out there.

And for those who can manage well, it's still a struggle each and every day.

Reason Number Three:

There are just so many diseases-- many we aren't even aware of until someone we know develops one of them.

For me, in making this choice, I'd want to have a vested interest. Again, sounds selfish, right?

I don't think so.

In order to lead such an effort, one would have to bring a certain level of passion to the project.

Yes, I would love to see cancer cured (Ryan and I lost both our dads to pancreatic & lung cancer, respectively).

Yes, I would love to see breast cancer go away (my older sister just completed the worst year of her life successfully fighting that one).

But what would I attack with a passion like no other?

Diabetes, hands down.

Thursday, January 05, 2006


Just wanted to say thanks to everyone who voted for my blog.

And to those of you who work hard to control this disease each and every day.

Whether you write about it or not.

Every last one of you deserves an award.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Road Pics

We got in just last night.

Three days on the road. And because we wanted to visit a friend in Indianapolis, the journey back was a bit longer than the trip out-- 1,340 miles.

But yes, we are finally home.

There's so much unpacking, laundry, and just general resettling to do that it's hard to think of what to write here.

I did, however, want you all to know that we're back. That Christmas and the subsequent days of visiting, and eating, and well, yeah-- lots of eating -- were grand.

For now, in leu of a fun, interesting post describing our adventure, I'm sharing a few snaps-- all but the first taken from the car on our journey home. You see, we'd never driven a southerly route back from Boston, thus we'd never seen Southern Pennsylvania, Northern West Virginia and the Ohio valley. (I wish we'd had time to stop so that I could have photographed them properly!)

Oh, and before the photos, just wanted to mention that it seems I've been tagged.... twice. First, several weeks ago by Julia, then while I was away, by Violet. Of course, I will rise to this tagging (sorry for the tardiness, Julia), and post five random facts soon...

In the meantime, I hope everyone had a fabulous holiday, and that blood sugars weren't too crazy (though, not surprising, we had our fair share of this). I look forward to reading about everyone's holiday exploits.

It's good to be back.

The view from a window in my sister's house
the morning of our departure from Boston.

Until then, we'd had no snow during our entire visit.

Hours later, driving through the mountains of
Southern PA, a noticable absence of snow...

Green grass? On January 1st?


Sunset over Southwestern PA,

Driving into a storm about 40 miles outside
of Indianapolis

Sun setting just beyond the storm's center

Driving across Indiana and Southern Illinois,
I heard David Byrne singing over and over...

We’re on a road to nowhere
Come on inside
Takin’ that ride to nowhere
We’ll take that ride