Thursday, February 22, 2007

Last Night's Bad Dream

I'm walking down an unfamiliar urban street, trying to find my way home. Every once in a while, a car passes.

A small, brown and white dog with the face of a pitbull is following me.

I look up and down the street-- hoping its owner is nearby.

But there's no one else.

Just me and this dog-- who walks behind me, head down, letting go a low, menacing growl.

Quickly, I cross to the other side of the street.

The dog doesn't follow.

But now, the street is filled with traffic. I hear the sounds of many car engines, drivers leaning on horns, a bus rumbling by.

Large numbers of people move along the sidewalk -- where only a moment before it had been empty.

Among those people are two young teenage girls whom I recognize immediately as Emma and Michelle -- the girls who watched our kids last Saturday night.

When they reach where I'm standing, Emma is talking on her cell phone, while Michelle stands next to her, laughing about something I can't make out.

I turn away from them, look across the street, and see Joseph-- surrounded by strangers.

Oh my God.

How could I have forgotten about him?

Joseph sees me and -- looking very relieved -- slowly makes his way across the street.

Standing in front of me, he sways slightly-- and in a strange, faint voice, says:

"Mom, I don't feel right. I-- I think I'm having a see- "

His eyes roll back, his chest convulses, then he drops to the ground.

A Seizure.

Traffic noise, people's voices, everything -- except for Joseph's desperate gasps -- sound very far away.

I look down at him and, for a moment, feel paralyzed.

What do I do?

I have to do something.

He could die.

"Where's the black bag?" I hear myself ask frantically. "The glucagon! I need to give him glucagon!"

Michelle hands me my black backpack. Both girls stand there staring, looking frightened.

I rip through the pack, pull out our blue medical kit, and search for the red plastic case-- all the while tears stream over my cheeks.

I don't know how to do this! I can't do this! I can't!"

Hands shaking, I open the case -- stare at the syringe, the little vial-- and remember.

Inject the liquid into the powder, shake gently, draw the mixture back into the syringe.

"I can do this. I can do this. I can do this... " I say aloud-- trying to block out any doubt.

"Emma!" I yell, while swirling the vial, "Call 911!"

She looks stunned, as if I'd slapped her, and then punches in the numbers.

Grasping the large syringe, thumb against its plunger, I turn back to Joseph.

He's unconscious; his body, still convulsing.

Where do I give this to him? A muscle. That's right, it should go in a muscle."

I pull up his sleeve, hold the needle inches from the top of his arm, and then...

Wake up.

Heart, racing; cheeks, wet.

It was a dream. Just a dream. A horrible dream...

Even so, I close my eyes and review the steps.

Over and over.

And then try hard to return to that urban street-- to see myself give him the shot.

To know that, if it happens, he'll be okay.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Finding the Words

It's funny how sometimes you just can't find words. No matter how hard you try.

That's been me over the past week. Maybe it's because this disease is suddenly feeling more relentless of late.

The highs, the lows-- they continue.

And the exhaustion, too.

I realize I'm not alone-- thus, even writing this has me feeling somewhat sheepish.

So I'm just gonna launch into something more specific-- and hope a decent post emerges...

Joseph's endo appointment.

While his A1c rose (from 7.4 at his last visit to 7.8)-- his growth was amazing.

"This is the biggest growth spurt we've seen in a while," his doc tells us enthusiastically.

And when Joseph stands in front of her -- sure enough -- they literally see eye-to-eye.

"You're going to pass me by your next visit," she tells him with a smile.

But then, the downside of the appointment, after Joseph and Evan retire to the lobby. When I ask a question that's been on my mind for a very long time.

"I know I've told you that Joseph never wakes up when he's low overnight-- but I've been wondering if this is something that will change when he's grown?"

His endo pauses, looking sympathetically at both me and Ryan. And then answers my question:

"Well, we've found that as children get older they actually become less sensitive to overnight lows. This is why I worry about many of my patients who are going off to college. They tell me that they always wake up when they're low. But that is really quite rare. Most people will sleep through a low blood sugar.

"I tell these kids that they have to come up with a plan."

A plan.


I swallow this down. Hard.

And feel grateful that I'm not hearing it alone. That Ryan's hand is right there.

"All right, then," I say, struggling not to cry.

And then I remember something:

"Have there been any new developments on the continuous glucose monitor front?"

"A number of kids in my practice are wearing the Guardian with a lot of success. We're even finding that they don't need to change the sensor every three days.

"In fact, the device appears to be more accurate if they wear the sensor longer-- as long as two weeks."

While this sounds so very promising, I remind her that Joseph wears an Animas pump. Thus he'd have to wear the (rather bulky) Guardian receiver, in addition to his pump-- versus Minimed's all-in-one pump/Guardian combo.

"Joseph has seen the device on another child," I tell her, "and he's just not ready to wear that much equipment."

"It's still worth exploring," the doc continues, "I think that Joseph could gain a great deal of benefit from it."

Then, of course there's the money-- insurance coverage for a CGMS is still not there yet. As we leave this visit, I'm doing the math in my head and it's not coming out right.

There's just too many things: diabetes supplies, preschool for Evan, braces for Joseph...

So I'm left with a mixed bag of emotions:

Sadness and frustration over the fact that we can't get this thing RIGHT NOW for our son;

Impatience, because I desperately want this technology to improve SOON;

And hope.

Because even if we can't jump on this right now, by the time our son goes to college he'll be wearing (or implanted with) something that will take our place during those long nights.

Something that -- I have to believe -- will keep him safe.

Thursday, February 08, 2007


"It's just gonna be a scene," Ryan says with a devilish grin.

I look at him, doubtful at first-- but then I imagine how blown away Joseph will be when he opens this gift on Christmas day.

When he sees the tickets.

And really, it would be one helluva lark.

"All right. Let's do it."

So here I am -- two months later -- sitting in a crowded arena, flanked by my husband and son.

Directly in front of us -- an astonishingly short distance away-- a ring.

A Professional Wrestling Ring.
"My God-- this is gonna be insane!" I say to no one in particular.

Ryan says nothing-- just grins broadly, soakin' it all in.

Joseph can barely contain his excitement when a pleasant-looking man in a brown suit walks to the center of the ring holding a microphone.

The lights go down, and at first I can't make out what the man is saying over the thousands of madly cheering fans, but then his booming voice is suddenly clear:

" . . . weighing in at two hundred and thirty-eight pounds and standing six foot one-- Euuuugeeeene!"

A spotlight shines on an energetic fellow wearing a short white jacket and what looks like a shiny black speedo as he gallops through the crowd, then leaps into the ring.

Moments later, loud ominous music fills the air and again, the crowd screams as the announcer continues:

" . . . his opponent, hailing from India-- reaching a height of seven foot three . . . "

My head whips around to Ryan-- "Did he just say seven foot three?"

" . . . and weighing four hundred and twenty pounds . . .
The Great. Khaaaaaa-leeee!"

The crowd roars as Khali strides purposefully through the audience, climbs up toward the ring, and effortlessly steps over the top rope.

Eugene cowers in a corner, looking almost childlike next to this behemoth.

The "match" lasts less than three minutes.

Over the next three hours (that's right-- three hours) various heroes and villains parade into the ring and face off. And while there are some fun, wildly acrobatic moments, there's mostly a whole lot of really bad acting.

Despite this, Joseph is having a blast.

As the main event is about to begin, the crowd gets to their feet and begins shouting and chanting the name of the star attraction.


I'm standing on tiptoes trying to get a look at this guy, when I feel a light tap on my arm.

"Mom, I'm tired," Joseph says, then leaning on me suddenly, "and I have a headache."

"Honey, do you feel low?"

"I... I don't know."

While everyone around us remains on their feet -- cheering Cena on as he marches toward the ring -- Joseph slides back down into his seat.

Even in the dim arena light he looks terribly pale.

"Honey, let's check your sugar," I say, feeling a rising panic.

He's 95.

Which wouldn't be bad, except that he's dropped more than 50 points from when we checked just ten minutes earlier.

That's way too fast.

"Bud, take three glucose tabs."

As I watch him eat the tabs, I'm wishing I could just get him out of here now (he looks that bad).

But the arena is dark; the aisles, packed with people.

"Mom, can I take another tab?" Joseph asks in a shaky voice.

"Go ahead, Bud."

I ask him several times over the next ten minutes if he's feeling better.

"A little," is all he tells me.

When the lights finally go up, we gather our coats and make our way across the crowded arena floor toward the high staircase that leads to the exits.

Thank God.

My stomach in knots, I walk behind Joseph while Ryan leads the way.

As we join the river of people already climbing the stairs, Joseph turns his head and says weakly, "Mom, I just wanna go home, I'm really, really tired and my head hurts."

Then he begins climbing.

A few seconds later, halfway up the staircase, he slips-- his face connecting with the stairs.

"Joseph!" I shout, my heart in my throat.

Grabbing onto one of his arms, I pull him to his feet.

"Are you all right?"

"No . . . no, Mom," he cries, "I just wanna go home."

There's some blood on one of his front teeth.

"Honey, does anything hurt?" I reach out and touch his face. "You're bleeding a little."

"I hit my mouth on the metal part of the stairs," he says, through tears.

"It's okay . . . you're gonna be okay . . . "

And then, frightened that his blood sugar might be taking a nose dive, I say:

". . . maybe we should check your sugar- "

"No, no, I'm sick of sticking myself! I'm just tired. I just wanna go to bed."

Ryan looks at me, mouthing the words "Let's go."

He's right-- we've got to get him out of this swarming crowd.

I turn back to Joseph-- "It's gonna be all right, Bud-- we just need to get to the car."

Holding onto him, I help him up the rest of the stairs, and then on out into the sub-zero cold.

A few long minutes later, we pile into the car, thankful to get out of the biting wind-- and away from all of those people.

Not long after buckling up, Joseph falls asleep.

Although his blood sugar is 111 when we arrive home, he's still not feeling right. I give him a snack and sit with him for a while before settling him into bed.

And then I can't sleep. I'm just so worried and angry about what happened. About all the other nights he's not gonna feel right -- or worse -- because of this damnable disease.

And I just want to scream.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Trouble With Tim

I'm sitting in front of the laptop doing some late-night blog surfing, when I hear several loud, insistent "meows."

Looking down on the floor, I see that Tim has decided to join me.

I guess he can't sleep either.

"Why aren't you upstairs bonding with Joseph, you little bugger?"

Tim looks up at me with those big eyes of his, and meows again, pleadingly.

"Oh, all right... come here."

I shift in my chair so he can jump more easily onto my lap.

Once there, he places his paws against my chest, lifts his head to mine, and purrs loudly, rubbing his cheek against my face-- then lays his head on my lap, and continues purring contentedly.


But then rather suddenly, his head pops up, he leaps to the floor and lets go a long, loud "Meeeowww."


"What's goin' on, Tim? Are ya' hungry?"

He turns away from me-- crouches down low, sticks out his neck and makes an awful, familiar sound.

A gagging sound.

"Aw, man-- a hairball already... "

As if to give immediate confirmation, Tim vomits.

A Lot.

And as I bend over to see what he's deposited on our rug, something doesn't look right.

Rather, it looks . . . colorful.


I rub my chin.

Oh no-

Suddenly, I remember this:

An earlier victim of Tim's attentions.

Wrapping my hand in an old cloth, I pick up a tiny, mangled white go-go boot.

A torn, wet, pink mini.

A (once fabulous) blue and gold evening dress-- sans one sleeve, and covered in... well, you know.

And finally, a brilliant orange summer shift, mostly intact-- but with a tiny blue sleeve stuck to it.

Well, the boy does have good taste.

(Bad pun, I know-- but I'm tired)

Carefully, I place the regurgitated fashions in a plastic bag, and drop said bag in the rubbish-- hoping they won't be missed.

So now I'm trying to figure out how to keep Tim away from all of the the tiny, inappropriate things he seems to crave.

Anyone else have this problem?

Any ideas on how to change this kind of behavior in a 4-year-old, former stray kitty?


Note: To any concerned cat owners out there-- Tim was his usual mellow self immediately following this incident-- no sign of further distress.

Though, shortly after I went to bed, I heard a scraping sound coming from the hallway. Upon investigation, I found Tim sticking his paws underneath Evan's bedroom door-- clearly wanting to get to the Polly Pocket mother lode on the other side.