Monday, January 29, 2007


Bleary eyed, I make my way across the dark bedroom, bend over, and switch on the small lamp next to Joseph's bed.

I pause a moment, then look hopefully at my sleeping son as he lay curled on his side, one hand resting by his head.

Reaching down, I move my hand across his forehead and down the sides of his pale face-- gently pushing aside several strands of damp hair.


Quickly, I slide the meter out of its case, pop open a small cannister, shake out a test strip and insert it into the meter.

"Code 23" appears on the illuminated display.

I push the "OK" button, put down the meter, then pull out the lancing device (or "poker"), and carefully take hold of the hand that rests on the edge of Joseph's pillow.

I draw a breath before pricking the calloused tip of my son's index finger.

He doesn't even flinch.

Squeezing his fingertip, a bubble of blood begins to form.

I pick up the meter, bring the loaded test strip to his finger and watch as his blood is drawn in.

5 . . . 4 . . . 3 . . . 2 . . . 1


Without turning to look at it, I reach for the jar of glucose tabs that sits on the small table next to his bed.

"Bud, you're low," I say quietly, then pull down his chin and push a glucose tab into his mouth.

Almost mechanically, he chews for a few seconds, swallows, chews some more, swallows...

I slip in another tab.

He doesn't open his eyes-- doesn't say a word.

Just chews and swallows.

When I've given him what I hope will be enough (but not too much), I take a seat on the floor by his bed-- and wait.

20 minutes.

I prick his middle finger this time.


Not enough.

Two more glucose tabs.

And still, he sleeps through it all.

I stare at him, shivering.

Imagining the sugar entering his bloodstream.

Willing it to.

Another 20 minutes.

This time, it's his ring finger.

He's now 104.

Relieved, I tear open a package of cheese crackers.

"Bud, you were low-- you have to eat some of these," I whisper, while feeding him a cracker.

I feed him another, then brush the crumbs from the sides of his mouth, his chin.

He sleeps through all of this, too.

All of it.

Before climbing back into bed, I set Ryan's alarm for two hours later.

Then finally -- at 12:45 -- I crawl under our heavy comforter.

And for a long time, lay curled on one side, cheek resting on my hands.

Eyes wide open.


Nicole P said...

Sandra -

Another amazing post. Another illustration of the 24 hours-ness of this disease.

I hate it so much. I hate that it rumbles up in the peace of a quiet night, that it forces our "eyes open," I hate that it never relents and that it pushes us into hyper/omni-vigilence. I hate that it sneaks up. I hate it so much sometimes I could just cry out in frustration and anger. I hate that it make me care about it - that it makes me hate it.

I'm glad we've got this place to come - to share. I hope it helps you as much as it helps me.

Anonymous said...

It's amazing he sleeps through it.

If I'm low I have to get up and brush my teeth after or the morning taste in my mouth is just yuck....


don't have blogger i'm at:


Scott K. Johnson said...

Hey Sandra,

As Nicole said, great post.

I hate thinking about the taste of glucose tablets and cheese crackers that Joseph will wake up to... :-)

Seriously though - waiting for that stuff to kick in just drives me crazy sometimes. I can't imagine how long it must have felt when you were sitting on the floor, just waiting.

Carey said...

There's a certain selfishness that comes with the comfort of knowing that someone else is going through exactly what we are going through.

I don't wish this dreadful disease on you or anyone else, but to be honest, there is some comfort. I only hope you can in return find a bit of comfort in us - knowing that as you sit by Joseph's bed, in a small town in Pennsylvania, there's a couple bleary-eyed people testing their son and watching the meter's countdown with bated breath.

Great post.

Shannon said...

I pictured Brendon in Joseph's place. I pull down Brendon's chin and slip a tab in and watch him chew, then repeat the process again. This is exactly how it takes place in our house.

One of the things that strikes me about the OC is that we are so interchangeable in our experiences. I think that's what links us so strongly.

I felt your exhaustion and anxiety in this post.....

Penny said...


I could picture everything you said as if I'd done it all before. Hey, wait a minute....

Just 2 nights ago, Riley clocked in at 84 at 2:30 in the morning. He ate fruit snacks and 20 minutes later, he was 64. So, he sat up again for more fruit snacks and peanut butter crackers. Never complaining. Is there really any need to? It won't do any good.

Big hug to you, my friend. I've been sitting there right on the floor with you.

Sandra Miller said...


Yes, I am glad I can come here with this.


I agree, it is amazing that he sleeps through it-- but he does. Every time.

Which frankly, scares the hell out me.


I'm sure you can imagine exactly how long it felt.

And Carey, Shannon, & Penny-


Knowing we're not alone in this experience helps a lot.

Vivian said...

Aww sweetie, I was there with you last night. We had a 29 that did not want to budge. Of course we corrected, his body corrected, he rocketed the other way. Someday we will all sleep through the night. =)

Vivian said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bernard said...


Thank you for capturing some of the effort it takes to manage diabetes. It just stinks.

(And I agree with everyone about the morning after problem with taste. Maybe we should be cooperating to develop something that corrects without an after taste!)

Jamie said...

Oh Sandra - what a wonderfully written post. We've all been there - more than we'd like to. I'm usually up giving Danielle apple juice in a sippy cup. Hardly awake, she craps the cup and sucks it back - in her sleep. If she doesn't finish it, I gently push it back into her mouth and she starts sucking it back again. I hate to think of what drinking juice in the night is doing to her teeth *sigh*.

You were not alone last night - we were all right beside you while you sat and waited.

Jamie said...

Ohh, you know, it really pays to re-read your post before hitting the publish button LOL.

craps = grabs

Make for a more interesting comment I guess lol.

maureen said...

Night time has always been a scary time for me. For the first year or so after Casey was diagnosed I don't think that I slept. We still keep a baby monitor in his room "just in case". He hates it, he's 11 now, but it is necessary for my sanity.
He will sleep through sticks also, I use the boxes of Gatorade(15g exactly) or the packets of PowerGel. Tastes better and doesn't leave such an icky taste.
Sandra, know that there are lots of us, unfortunately, doing the same act as you....

Chrissie in Belgium said...

Sandra - it is so much harder caring for a child with T1 than having it yourself. Twice a night, every night for years and years I have been testing my bg values. I cannot sleep a whole night through. My body is so "used to " waking up, testing, drinking coke or taking insulin and then sleeping again. Although I have a pump, the need still remains. I am sorry you have to go through this - it is so much easier to have the D yourself! Will there ever be a cure? A CURE, not another treatment!

Heidi said...

Sandra - my thoughts are with you in the fight against those damned night time lows!

I owe my boyfriend a lot for waking up and bringing me out of the occasional night time lows that I have. Like Joseph, I have no problem sleeping through it all. I even managed to test, hardly opening my eyes, on Jimmi's request, and when seeing a 4.7 (85), just rolling over going back to sleep instantaneously.

Like many of the other comments have said that taste in your mouth the next morning just sucks, though.

Oh, The Joys said...

Sandra that was just beautifully written and moving. You are a good mom.

Anne Glamore said...

So simply written but it says so much.

Molly said...

I had all my loved ones read this, and they all said "Yea! That's the story that I live."
I will help with the testing part (or so I'm told), but fall right back to sleep and have been known to polish off 2 or 3 juice boxes. It makes my dentist crazy. She says that I should rinse my mouth out in the middle of the night if I have to treat a low. Yea, right.
I love reading your blog. Thanks

Judy said...

I'm the diabetic in my house, and fortunately I haven't had any significant lows since my last medication adjustment. I can deal with it when it's me. I don't know what I'd do if it was one of the kids.

I remember giving them so many other meds in their sleep. Amazing what they can sleep through, isn't it!

Anonymous said...

I have just discovered this resource, and I can't believe the shock/thrill it is to actually see my deep fears and sadness articulated so well by others. Thank you thank you for this. I have a 13 year old that was diagnosed at 4 and an 8 year old diagnosed last year. I am a single mom now, and I feel alone, frustratd, and tired.

Sandra Miller said...



I can only imagine how difficult that must be for you.

If you'd like to talk directly, please email me at any time at