Friday, November 09, 2007

Getting Back Up

Last Sunday.

On an unseasonably warm afternoon, I agree to take Joseph and his two new friends (12-year old "G"and his 9-year old brother "R") to an outdoor skateboarding park about 20 minutes from our house.

Sure, I've got a boatload of laundry to do, a garden to clear, groceries to buy...

But man, it is one beautiful day.

So I head out to the backyard to tell Ryan the plan-- and to see if he's all right with it.

You see, he's been out there raking for almost half an hour, and I'm feeling a bit sheepish about taking off like this.

But once I tell him, Ryan leans on his rake, smiles and says:

"Bring some coffee, a book, and a chair-- it'll be fun. And don't forget your sunglasses."

"But what about Evan?"

"You don't want to be following her around while the boys are skating-- and besides," he says, grinning broadly and pointing at the massive pile of crisp, golden leaves in front of him, "she's gonna want to jump in these."

A few minutes later, I'm driving three loud, giddy boys to a skate park.

The whole way there, they talk enthusiastically about "kick flips," "pop shove-its" and "dropping in," while I half listen-- and at the same time, do some preemptive thinking.

Okay, so he
had a late breakfast-- we'll just check his blood sugar before he starts skating, give him a snack, then go have lunch about an hour later.

His sugars were in a nice range this morning so we should be good.

Pulling into the parking lot, I see the skate park some distance away-- all concrete, peppered with several large ramps, platforms and metal rails, and surrounded by a chain link fence.

Immediately after I turn off the engine, Joseph and his buddies scramble out of the van, grab skateboards and helmets, and make for the park.

"Wait! Joseph, come here-- I want you to check your sugar before you skate."

R is already halfway to the park, but G rides his board back to the van with Joseph.

He watches carefully as Joseph pricks his finger, touches it to the end of a loaded test trip-- and then (as always) covers the meter's display with one hand until he hears the beep.


More calculations.

No insulin on board... he's gonna be pretty active...

"Bud, how 'bout you eat this chocolate chip-peanut butter granola bar?"

"Sure," he says grabbing the bar from my outstretched hand. Immediately, he tears the thing open and takes a huge bite.

"How about you, G-- would you like one, too?"

"Yeah-- thanks," he says, eyes lighting up.

Five minutes later, the boys are riding up and down ramps, doing tricks... and I'm settled in on my lawn chair just outside the park's open gate-- sun on my face; a thermos full of warm coffee in one hand, a book about XHTML (I kid you not) in the other.

Ten minutes later, Joseph falls.


"Bud, are you all right?" I call out, stifling a gasp.

"Yeah," he says, but he's slow to get up. He'd been coming down a high ramp when his board flew out from under him.

G skates over to him, but Joseph waves his friend off and is soon back on his board.

I close my book.

That was a tough one-- but he got right back up... awesome.

At that moment, while marveling at my son's resilience, I see him skate awkwardly over to another ramp, and then stumble off his board.

"Bud, are you- "

"I'm fine," he says.

But he's not. I know he's not.

And about 30 seconds later-- he knows it, too.

"Mom, I'm feeling kinda hungry," he says-- and then he walks slowly over to where I'm sitting, with G and his brother following right behind.

"Bud, you just had that granola bar, and I left the wipes in the car-- I'll be back in less than a minute, and then you can do a check." Turning away from him and his friends, I sprint toward the van.

But Joseph doesn't wait-- before I get far, he's calling me back.

"I'm 42!" he yells.

He was 125 less than 15 minutes ago... and he didn't even wash his hands...

I spin around, run back to where he's standing, and for about a second, am struck by how pale he looks.

How it happened so fast.

"Take five tabs, Bud."

Joseph shoves several large glucose tablets into his mouth, while his friends stand on either side of him-- both wearing the same concerned expression.

They haven't known him long -- maybe three weeks. And this is the first time they've seen him low.

After eating the tabs, Joseph insists on going back in the park with his friends-- and sitting at the top of a ramp several yards away while he waits for the glucose to start working.

"It'd be better if you stayed he- " I start to say, but the words fall away.

Full of fear, I watch him climb that ramp, and then I can only see his legs-- another platform obstructs my view.

It's hard, not going after him.

But he wants to be in there, with his friends-- even if he can only sit and wait.

A long 15 minutes later, he's back up to 89.

And after quickly eating a bag of cheese crackers, he's back up on his board.

That was a tough one-- but (thank God) he got right back up...

And again, I marvel at my son's resilience, as I watch him skate fast and sure over concrete-- to the top of yet another ramp.


Nicole P said...

Oh, how I loved this post, Sandra. You've got a book in all of this stuff, you know. And I mean that. It's something I would buy and read.

Getting back up is the important part - more important than anything else with d - and with life, I guess.

Talk soon.


Jamie said...

This post made me sad. Why? Because the stupid D keeps interfering in things. I mean, I guess we all have to deal with that and that's the nature of the disease, but it still doesn't sit well with me *sigh*.

I'm glad you were there - and Joseph is pretty on top of it, but you guys handled it good. It just frustrates me that in order for them to have a good time with their friends, sometimes they have to keep stepping out to keep having snacks to continue on. *sigh*

Damned Diabetes.

Sandra Miller said...


Thanks. :-)

You know, it's funny-- yesterday, when I started writing this post, the only thing I had was a title:

"Falling Hard"

And about halfway through, that title didn't feel right.

By the end, it felt all wrong.

The "falling" isn't what this post is about at all.

It took me writing it down -- re-living the events, thoughts and feelings of that afternoon -- to really see that.


I know what you mean.

It always hurts when I see this happen to him-- when the disease gets in the way of him doing something he (sometimes desperately) wants to do.

But then (thankfully) there's that other side of it-- when our kids inspire with their ability to get back in there, despite what diabetes throws at them.

Colleen said...

Joseph is such a bright young man. Also sounds like his new friends are pretty good, too. And you're giving him just enough distance so he can continue to learn how to take care of his diabetes. Smart mom!

Ellie said...

I never know who I admire most when I read your blog Sandra - Joseph, who sounds an amazing and delightful kid, or you for your mothering skills. Even when terrified for him, you put his need to do his own thing and be 'normal' ahead of everything while still managing his safety. Every boy this age should be so lucky. You're building him up with such a strong confidence in himself and his ability to manage his needs, you're going to stand him in good stead the rest of his life. I read and I think - wow.

Jillian said...

This was great. I am sorry that diabetes had to get in the way, but I am so glad that Joseph could get back up from that fall and low to keep going. I am also glad to see that you were able to hold back your fears and let him go back. I can only imagine how hard that moment must have been for you.

Seonaid said...

It looks like you do an amazing job helping your son.. It is tough sometimes, but the role you play is indispensable.I know, because my mom is the same way and it is such a help to have someone who cares and will do whatever they can to help. I'm glad your son was able to recover and get back up again!

Caro said...

A beautiful post as always, Sandra. Getting back up is what it's all about. I admire both you and Joseph more than I'm able to articulate for the grace with which you deal with this.

Happy D-Blog Day!

in search of balance said...

Good for him. What a great young man he is. It's hard, and frustrating, and he manages it when he needs to, but he still sits on the top of the ramp while he's waiting, and he still gets back up and onto his board. And what a strong presence you are, letting him go.

Let me know any time about the necklace. If it's for the holidays, we need the words before Dec. 10th.

Thanks for another inspiring post.

Minnesota Nice said...

And, BTW, that picture of him on the previous post was beautiful - gosh, he and Evan really look alike. Two most handsome kiddos.

Chris said...

This was a hard one for me to read. However the image that was pasted in my mind as i read was Joseph skating his heart out. Its weird how when he is doing his flips, ollies, etc for those fractions he forgets totally about everything, but as you see him do this do you think about it more?
He is as well inspiring.

mel said...

Yeah! Go Sox. I actually thought of Joseph :)

Christine-Megan said...

It sounds like Joseph has good, caring friends.

Happy D-Blog Day.

Amylia said...

thanks for another great post. getting back up is a much better title than falling hard. i'm glad you changed it.

we all fall hard and fast, but getting back up is the important part.

thanks for your comment on my blog. thinking of you guys!

Donna said...

It is so great that he can enjoy the normalities of being a kid - enjoying time with his friends, a chocolate chip/peanut butter granola bar (I love those), skateboarding, etc. It had to be tough for you to let him continue after his low. But I'm so glad you did & I'm sure Joseph was glad, too.

Bernard said...


You're doing a great job with Joseph and it shows.

And I like Joseph's friends. It sounds like they're learning and watching out for him. That's good.

I hate hate how diabetes makes it hard to be spontaneous about physical activity. That's one of the worst aspects of this disease for me. Turning down the basal rate helps, but generally not enough.

Scott K. Johnson said...


This is a great post (again). We are very resilient, that is for sure.

Anonymous said...

Wow, that was an amazing post.

It really made me think about what it must have been like for my parents while I was growing up...

Although I've lived with this disease for what seems like forever, I can't imagine what it feels like to be a parent to a child living with the big D.

Shannon said...

Is that Joseph in that shot? Wow!

I love it when diabetes doesn't get in the way of a good time. I hate it when it interferes, though.

But when the boys get right back into it, it's like giving diabetes a big middle finger.

Cynthia Samuels said...

Wow! I know that diabetes is the defining fact in this post but the remarkable courage you showed about the skateboarding itself - and the respect for your son and HIS courage - about flipping and flying through the air ABOVE CONCRETE( (!!) -- that was amazing on its own face. Your kids - and all of us who read about them - are lucky to have you. said...

Thanks for participating in the Christmas Edition of the Carnival of Family Life. The Carnival will be live at midnight (Pacific time) on December 24, 2007, at Colloquium!

Happy holidays!