Friday, April 04, 2008

Miles To Go

I'm lying in bed looking up at the ceiling-- only I can't see the ceiling because the room is pitch black.

All right.

He was crashing down at 11 o'clock, but two glucose tabs pulled him up 15 minutes later-- to 132. Then he ate some cheese crackers...

That ought to hold him.

I roll over on my side.

He's got no insulin on board, and his basal rate is pulled back 30% for the next couple hours.

He should be all right.

But then I'm on my back again.

Looking up.

This is how it goes.

Until 1 am-- the next check.

Leaning over him, I pray silently for a mid-range number. 120s would be good, but if he's a bit high-- well, that would be okay too.


My heart sinks.

He's coming down again-- not as fast, but still.

No insulin on board, a lower basal rate... why is he dropping again?


I take out his pump, extend his temp basal another four hours, and -- as usual -- struggle to get the pump back in its case.

Though Ryan will check him at 3 am, I've got a bad feeling. So when I return to bed, I snatch up my alarm clock (an old silver cell phone)-- and set the thing for 30 minutes later.

Sliding down beneath warm covers, I am so ready to drift gently to sleep-- even if it's just for half an hour.

But I never do.

Just before my alarm is set to go off--I'm squeezing yet another of my son's calloused finger tips. The blood doesn't come at first, not until I rub my thumb up the front of his finger, repeatedly (something I fear will wake him, but doesn't).


Should have given him some glucose.

Grabbing the plastic jar sitting on his nightstand, I unscrew the cap, and pause.

How many? If I give him too much he's gonna have a huge spike-- and then we'll be chasing the high all night...


Well, two bounced him right back up when we he was dropping earlier-- and he's not falling nearly as fast.

I fish out two large, pale-orange tablets-- and pause again.

"Joseph," I whisper, "I need you to take some glucose."

Without waiting for a response, I gently stroke his cheek, and for a moment just look at his face -- and at the headgear firmly attached to it -- then take a deep breath before maneuvering a tab between rubber bands and metal.

No words, just a low, muffled "crunch" as he mechanically chews each tablet without ever opening his eyes.

Then I pull myself up and walk heavily back to bed.

I'll give it 30 minutes.

One more poke, a snack, and then-- sleep.

2 am.

This time when I take one of his hands in mine, he pulls it roughly away -- shoving both his hands deep beneath the covers -- eyes still closed.

When I reach down and take hold of his left hand again, I bend his arm to make that hand floppy-- to lessen the resistance. Then I prick the tip of his index finger-- and immediately, he yanks it out of my grasp, smearing blood in the process.

Thankfully, before his flailing left hand disappears under his blanket, I manage to grab hold of it. But when I raise the loaded test strip to his index finger -- no matter how much squeezing and rubbing I do -- I can't bring up any more blood.

I have to poke him again.

Suddenly, anger and sadness erupt with such force I have to move away from my son.

Why does he have to have this thing? Why?! Poking and poking and poking my child with a needle every damn night!

I sit on the floor, shaking.

Until that internal alarm sounds, and I can't sit there any longer.

Wiping a damp cheek with the back of one hand, picking up the lancet with the other, I return to my son-- and prick yet another battered fingertip.


Still dropping.

Should have given him four in the first place-- but damnit, he wasn't falling that fast.

I watch him as he dutifully chews two more glucose tablets.

The whole time, all I want to do is go back to bed.

To just sleep until morning.

I return to my bedroom and set my alarm.

For 20 minutes later.


Colleen said...

I don't know what to say, other than I'm so very sorry that you and Joseph have to go through this.

Shannon said...

I HATE those frustrating nights when D doesn't do what it's supposed to. And it's so hard to cope emotionally when you're so damned exhausted.

George said...

Thank you for being such a great mom. I am sorry you have to go through this.


Nicole P said...

Damn it. I hate how battered this things leaves us sometimes. I'm not sure what else to say - other than I'm thinking of you. And I understand.

Jillian said...

I know these nights well, and I usually do them on my own. You are a wonderful mother. I don't know if Joseph said it so I'll say it for him, thank you for being there for him.

Scott K. Johnson said...

I too thank you for being such a great mom and having the strength to do what can be so hard.

It sucks.

Ashley said...

You're an amazing mom!

You make me want to hug my own mom. Or call her, anyway.

Molly said...

It just sucks.

Does Joseph remember the night at all?

I never did. Except that I would wake in the morning with a sweet taste of juice in my mouth, and know that I must have been low.

But I knew that my mom remembered. And I knew that she was probably exhausted. I felt sad about that.


Michelle said...

Thank you for posting this candid and honest account of what this is like. I hope you had a better morning...

Jamie said...

Aw Sandra - I'm sorry you had a rough night with that stupid disease. I hate those nights too - and when you're so tired, the tears come fast and easy.

You're an awesome Mom. Thank you for writing about this - it's an experience so many of us have lived through time and time again unfortunately.

Hang in there. (((((HUGS))))

Penny said...


I read this post in tears. I've been there so many times. Praying for the number to come up, but not too much. Just wanting to go to bed. Feeling guilty because all I want to do is get some sleep. Staring at my child's beautiful face and wishing he didn't have to deal with this.


Bernard said...


God bless your attention and your endurance. That really stinks.

You're working so hard to keep his blood sugars stable. It's not fair.

I hope you get some good nights sleep in the near future.

Donna said...

I have so much admiration for you in all that you do for Joseph. Someday I'll write about my childhood experiences because my mother wasn't like you at all. You are a great mom & I hate that you have to go through all of this. But for Joseph's sake, I'm glad you do. He will appreciate all this someday - even though he's sleeping through some of it now. :)

I hope you can get some rest soon.

Sara from Team Sweetpea said...

Since I haven't had children yet, I don't think I can fully appreciate what you go through on a regular basis. But as a type 1 myself I have been on the receiving end many times, and I know what a comfort it can be to know that someone is taking care of you - all you have to do is chew the glucose tab they give you. This post brought tears to my eyes.

I am sorry you have to deal with this, but you should be proud of the burden you're taking off your son's shoulders for the time being.

Tonyia said...

I know exactly where you are coming from...right down to the old cell phone for an alarm. Too many nights of stubborn lows and minimal sleep. Hang in there!

Anonymous said...

WOW!! Do you speak for a few people!! I couldn't have written that any better!! I have been there and it is gut wrenching. My daughter drinks juice boxes and doesn't remember the night. God Bless you for putting into words what I have felt so many times. Some times a good crying jag helps to get one back on track!! I keep remembering that "things could be worse". But some times it just gets to you!! Hang in there.. take strength in knowing others "know" and "have been there".

Anonymous said...

Your post made me cry....Been there done that. It's just not fair.

Anonymous said...

I'm a mom of a 3 year old daughter diagnosed with Type One at age 18months. I stumbled onto your site. Reading entires like this makes me feel like I am not alone. I will think of you when I am up checking my little one at night.

Michelle said...

Oh, Sandra. This makes me want to cry.

Lisa said...

This post made me cry. But, it also reminded me that there are other Mom's out there that know exactly what I am going through. Thanks so much for writing this. I hope that you have had better nights since.

Anonymous said...

thank you for writing.

JustCallMeJo said...

My heart goes out to you and Joseph.

AlisonH said...

Wow. Thank you. For doing that, for writing that, for letting others see how it is, living that. Wow.

And now I realize far better how easy I had it with my four kids, who were basically healthy. ...I was the sick one, diagnosed with SLE when the youngest was two, and then later with Crohn's. My baby is 20 now, and we're all still here.

Saying "hang in there" sounds far too trite. What I *want* to do is run over, fill in, and give you a night off in honor of my family for all the help they've been to me.