Fast forward to morning.
Rocco said he woke up first and then woke up Zeke when he found his coin!
There are many times people have said to me, "Don't worry, Shar, that little boy is going to be just fine." I would accept what they were saying, in spite of Rocco’s Type 1 diabetes, but I never really believed it in my heart. Until today...
We’ve had birthday parties galore lately. For a child with Type 1 diabetes, birthday parties can be very hard to deal with.
The main reason is that birthday parties are full of carbs! Usually, the main dish is pizza. Then there are treats - cake, ice cream, juice boxes, lemonade, chips, M&M’s, etc... The list goes on. All of these carbs spike blood sugar. Also, with all of these carbs, there is usually a bounce house, or a trampoline, or a germy crawl maze. Carbs and excitement raise blood sugar. Insulin and exercise bring blood sugar down.
Blood sugar within a normal range is always the goal. The problem is that the combination of the excitement, the carbs, the insulin and the exercise can send a kid into a roller coaster of blood sugars. All within the two hour duration of the party and the five hours it takes to even out the child once you get him home.
That being said, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE continue to invite our children with diabetes to your parties. The above-mentioned blood sugar issues are temporary and can be managed. The only thing worse than having diabetes at a birthday party is not getting invited to a birthday party because you have diabetes. We, the parents, can and will work it out. Thank you in advance!
So, today, after some prep work with Rocco, I sent Zeke and Rocco off to a Chuck E. Cheese party.
Last year, I bought Zeke and Rocco a cell phone. Buying a cell phone for five year olds – Lord help me with this crazy world in which I live! They were invited to party at a local play place and I just couldn't let Rocco go without some sort of communication. I didn't feel comfortable always calling the mom and asking to speak with my usually sweaty boy on her cell phone. Believe me, I have tried every way around this.
One time, I sat in a folding chair as the only adult in someone's basement for two hours while seventeen five-year-old boys ran around me screaming and playing Star Wars.
It looked a lot like this picture I found but in a basement.
I had to wait for the pizza to get there so I could see how big the piece was and then give Rocco his insulin. The adults were upstairs, but it was a family party and after the first half hour I just felt weird and in the way. So I snuck downstairs and found myself sitting in the folding chair surrounded by testosterone filled boys! The pizza was late to arrive, so I was held hostage. It was terrible! There HAD to be a better way.
So I thought I would buy them a cell phone so he could call me when it was time for me to check him and give him his insulin. At least then I could sit outside in my car during the party! Ugh!
It was so weird teaching a five year old how to work his phone. At least I had the where-with-all to get a simple flip phone that was free at Verizon! I figured I would wait until they were six to buy a smart phone. LOL!
But today is a ton better. Now Rocco knows how to check his blood sugar and he also knows how to work his pump. And that little flip phone is our lifeline.
So, for this Chuck E. Cheese party, I told Rocco to check his blood sugar before he ate. Then, call me with the number and the approximate size of the slice of pizza. I told him to compare it to a piece of Little Ceasars Hot and Ready pizza. He knows the size of that one.
I then told him he should bring him a can of diet caffeine free Dr Pepper. Hey, it worked for the Valentines party. Why not?
Then we talked about cake. I took a piece of note paper and folded it in half. I said, "Let me know if it is bigger or smaller than this piece of paper." We also talked about frosting. I drew a cake on the paper and told him the difference in carbs by the type of slice he had. The difference between a middle piece and a corner piece with all the frosting was about 10 carbs. He was surprised but he understood the concept and was proud to have the knowledge.
I was proud of myself for coming up with the idea of the folded piece of paper, until my six year old looked at me and said "Ok mom, but why don't I just take a picture of the pizza and cake and text it to you?"
I nearly fell on the floor!
He said, "I think I remember how. Say cheese." He snapped a picture, typed in my phone number and pressed send. As fast as a sixteen-year-old girl would have. Wow!
So, two hours later while he is in the germfest party, my little guy called me.
"Hi mom" he said in his little six-year-old voice (I will never get used to this). "I'm at 68 and I’d like to have a piece of pizza and my pop."
"Ok, you are a little low. So go ahead and have a half a glass of the fruit punch first, then the pizza, then the cake. Is the piece of cake bigger or smaller than the piece of paper?", I asked.
"Ok, is the pizza bigger or smaller than a Hot and Ready slice?"
"It's about half the size."
"Ok honey, tell the pump you are 68 and you will have 50 carbs." I say a small prayer as I always do that I got the number right. I undershot the carbs by about 10 to be conservative and because of the exercise level.
He then says, "Ok mom, I am going to set the phone on the table while I press the pump buttons, so you will hear some people talking and some music".
OMG! He is so stinking cute!
He picks the phone up and says, "The pump wants to give me 1.4 units."
"Good, press the OK button", I say.
We hang up. I smile to myself thinking about how far we have come. From a steel crib in the hospital to cell phone conversations.
Twenty minutes later, I get a text. He sent me this picture!
I sent him a text back that says,"Perfect!"
Thinking we had accomplished our task at hand, I put my phone back in my purse but it beeped again.
I looked and read, "ok sonds good".
So yep, you all were right my little boy is going to be juuuussst fine!
Dare I broach the topic of religion? Why not. I have a story that will make you cringe and hopefully make you laugh.
I like going to church. That being said, I hardly ever go. I have been going on and off my whole life, but I tend to go on a "when I feel like it" schedule. I sit in the very last row because, even in traffic, I have a thing about people behind me. So, I sit in the last row. I am comfortable there.
The boys tried Sunday school last year but said it was boring. So, when I brought them this year they sat with me in the "big area" (as they call the part of the church where the adults sit)they loved the main part of the church. The high wooden ceilings and organ intrigue them! So there was no groaning when we left today. I was surprised.
We got there a little early and Rocco led us straight to the back pew. He was excited that we got the same seats as we had last time. We started to sit, but he said he couldn't see anything, so I said he could pick where we sit today. I should have known better that to ask my more aggressive twin. He always wants the biggest and best thing he can get. So, he leads us up a few pews. Then a few more. Then finally we reach... You guessed it... THE FRONT ROW!!
Grinning from ear to ear, the boys are thrilled. I am panic-stricken! I hate people behind me and now I have the whole congregation behind me. Not to mention, I usually just follow the people in front of me when it's time to sit, stand or kneel! I have no idea when I am supposed to do any of that. So, here I sit, terrified, next to my two little guys who can't stop chattering on about the candles, the stained glass and a whole bunch of other stuff that sounded like the "Peanuts" teacher. Waa waaa waaa! At this point, I can only hear my own heartbeat in my ears.
I act like everything's normal. The music starts to play. The pastor walks in with the other guy (not sure of his title). He looks at me as he starts to speak. I can tell he is thinking, "Who the heck are you three?" and "Why are you in the front row?” I look behind me and there is no one else for 10 pews! God, might as well have shined a light right on our heads because we were so obvious. Only the old ladies who know what they are doing sit in the front row! Why am I sitting here? Do you go to hell if you kill your child in church? Just asking!
Holy crap! (no pun intended). The pressure was on. I not only have a pastor staring me down but now an entire congregation is watching what me and my two six-year-olds are doing looking to us for the next que. I thought of that saying that we should "do something every day that scares you." Done! Terrified here!
So I managed to gather myself up and read through the prayer cheat sheet to know when to sit, stand or pray. It was all going rather well until Rocco got obsessed by the Communion. He wanted to go up. Then he didn't. Then he did. I finally told him he couldn't because they didn't let kids. I needed to shut him up before the pastor saw us whispering. Six-year-olds either whisper too quietly or way to loud, don't they?
Now, I have taken the Communion before at other churches, but not at this church. When you are in the back row no one notices you, so there’s no pressure to go up. But, when you are in the front row, you start the whole church going up to the altar. I now have to watch the boys to make sure they are not hitting each other or slinking in the pew, but I also have to look the other way toward the usher who is going to start the whole thing with me. I wished I had two heads for the first time in my life. Actually, I lie. Two heads would also have come in handy when the twins were entering their “terrible two’s” phase!
I get up (at the right time I think!) and I get to the pastor. He puts the wafer in my hand. I take it, say “Thank you”, remembering only later in the day that the proper response is “Amen”. Then I immediately start to step to the right. Isn’t that the way they usually do it? Not today. As I start to step away, the pastor begins to say a three-sentence blessing over me. He raises his eyebrows while he is saying the first sentence as if to say, "Step back here, little girl, I am not done yet." I turn beat red, give a little embarrassed smile. When he is finished, I walk right past the wine guy. Heck with the wine! I can't handle that right now! I sit back down, wanting to melt into the floor and Rocco says, "See mom! The kids can go up". I look over and the pastor is now making a cross on a five-year-old's forehead. I tell Rocco that he can go up and get blessed but they don't give kids the wafers. He rolls his eyes. I giggle a little at him and he says "What? I'm hungry!"
Then he whispers way too loudly, "Mom, can you see in heaven?" At least he is paying attention.
We settle back in while the pastor reads "the big loooong part" as the kids called it. Now it's time for the offering. Zeke is especially excited about this part. He loves money! He remembers the big pile of money from last time. When you sit in the back row, the money pile is huge. When you are in the front row, the bowl is empty. I think he was disappointed. I pull out the small wad of dollar bills that I had separated out for this purpose. But, as I start to pass it to the usher, I feel something trapped inside the dollar bills. I am not sure if it is a wadded up Target receipt or a bloodied-up test strip from one of Rocco’s blood glucose tests. So I start to drop it in but first feel a little deeper at the bills. But it appeared as if I changed my mind and didn't want to give that much! The whole church was watching! I was mortified and just let it go. Hopefully it wasn't a used test strip! Ugh! Is this over yet?
The rest of the service went fine, except toward the end Zeke was "starrrrrvvviingg" and started to kind of lay down in the pew. I grabbed him toward me and put my arm around him, hoping my attention would pacify him. But his head hit my boob and he looked at me, gave me a devilish grin and to be silly, patted my boob!! Boys! Omg! Please start the "go home" song!
Next time, we will sit in our assigned seats in the back.
As we were leaving, I was able to sneakily snap this picture. I got caught by the money usher who asked me if I wanted him to take it of all three of us. Oh God (no pun intended!)
When we found out that Rocco had Type 1 diabetes, he weighed 21 pounds. He was 22 months old, still in diapers. He knew how to walk and he mostly knew how to talk. He did know the word "ouch", but in the first year of 10-12 finger pokes and at least four shots per day, he only said it to me once.
I remember it vividly because I had been expecting to hear him complain for a long time. I cringed every time I had to check his blood sugar or give him an injection of insulin. It had to hurt, right? One night, it finally happened. I checked his blood sugar while he was sleeping, and, as I poked him, he sat straight up, looked me straight in the eye and gave me the meanest look. He said, "Ouch! Mommy that HURTS", growling out the word "hurts".
At first, I remember feeling relief. Relief for, I guess, finally having him tell me how he really felt about the needle hitting his fingertip all day, every day. But, when I look back, and if I am really honest with myself, what I felt was relief that finally I was getting the pain I knew I always deserved. His words stung me like a knife cut, but the pain I felt from his words eased my guilt. The guilt I had felt regarding him getting diabetes. This guilt was a weight that I had strapped on my back the day we entered the ER and constantly carried with me. It was like a blanket I wrapped around me every day as I woke up. Oddly, my guilt felt familiar and safe.
How could I have allowed my little guy to get this? Did I do this to him? Was this what God was trying to tell me while we tried so hard to conceive these little guys and couldn't? Was he saying, "I am not going to give you these angels because this little one is going to have a lifetime of suffering if I send him down to you"? Did he get this because we did in-vitro? I tried everything to become pregnant and become a mom. Did I push too hard, causing my baby to suffer because of my selfish desire to hold him in my arms? Did I do this to him because I was unable to breastfeed while he was an infant due to my congestive heart failure after their delivery?
So for him to finally "blame" me and growl his anger at me, I felt relief. I felt like I was finally being given the punishment I deserved for doing this all to him.
Cognitively, I am aware that none of this is actually the way it all worked. I do not really believe God punishes people or babies. I do not believe that breast feeding or in-vitro impacted his diagnosis. But it is amazing how deep a mothers guilt can go, isn't it? It can burn you so deep in your soul that the most irrational thoughts can become your reality.
My friend once told me during the first month of her son's diagnosis, he had a seizure. It turned out he had a sensitivity to insulin. This cruel joke can sometimes happen. Her husband was out of the country and she had three other kids at home. She held him in her arms, as he seized, while she tried to read the instructions on how to administer the Glucagon, a life saving injection of glucose sent straight to the blood stream. She said she has seldom slept through the night since and hasn't ever forgiven herself. I related very well to her when she told me this story.
Also, I recently read an article about a general practitioner's guilt when his daughter went undiagnosed for a while. He didn't add up the signs of her diabetes - extreme thirst, going to the bathroom a lot, lethargy, and agitation. These signs are easily dismissed because most people just think their child is going through a phase or is just hot due to warm weather. Each one of these symptoms can be explained in a myriad of different ways, but once all put together, they can add up to a diagnosis of Type 1 diabetes.
A parent's guilt can be overwhelming, especially when it relates to something that is life-changing for a child. Our job is to protect these little ones. When we can't protect them from all the world's hurt, it is easy to go into hyperdrive and transfer our energy into guilt. It has been four years since that day when Rocco growled at me, and I can say I am still working through the guilt. I am trying to move forward into a healthy, happy family life that isn't overshadowed by "could haves" or "should haves".
Tell me your mom or dad "guilt" story. It is actually kind of therapeutic. I'm happy to give you the platform. Please, share...
Ok, what I am about to write is NOT life changing, but I found a low-carb meal that is very easy to do. I wanted to share the news! It's perfect for a Tuesday if you need to get Suzy to gymnastics in 45 minutes, feed a family of five and have everyone love it and not complain. Save grandma’s three-hour meatloaf recipe for Sunday!
As background, I had someone ask me to post a low-carb meal that she can make for her diabetic daughter. Here is a meal that makes me actually eat a pork chop. Something I have not done since my mom "Shake n' Baked” one in 1979. Yuck! Sorry mom!
Thank you Kraft and Dole for making this meal easy and low-carb. The whole thing takes about 30 minutes from refrigerator to table.
The key to this meal is something Kraft just came out with called “Fresh Take”. No, I am not getting paid by Kraft (or Dole), I wish!
You can find it in the cheese section in the grocery store. It comes in four different flavors and the ingredients include cheese, spices and breadcrumbs in a zipper bag. You throw your meat in and toss around a little. Sing a happy song while you toss because this is the easiest meal you will make all week! Then, you take out the meat and put it in the oven. Follow the directions on the package for time and temp. They say you can use it with chicken, fish or pork.
This cool, little thermometer helps me keep an eye on the temp. You can grab them at Bed, Bath and Beyond (dont't forget the big blue coupon!). The sensor goes in the meat into the oven, with the temperature gauge on the outside of the oven. Then you can monitor the temp outside of oven, so you don't have to keep peeking.
Here is a hint about meat that my husband has taught me. Take meat out of the oven 10 degrees below the recommended temp and cover with foil for 10 minutes. The idea is that meat still cooks outside of the oven, but slower to make the meat more tender. You should try my husband’s filet steaks! Another tip he taught me is cut all meat in slices (like turkey dinner slices) not cubes. Give it a try, especially with tougher meat like beef or pork.
The Fresh Take creates a crunchy, cheesy coating over the meat and keeps the juices inside. Each pork chop is only 8 carbs. Yum!
Next, open a Dole Salad Kit. Enough said. This one has a sweet dressing and has cranberries. Yes, it was on manager's special. No it wasn't expired (yet).
If your kid won't eat a salad, just try some thinly sliced raw veggies such as red, orange or yellow peppers. Give them ranch to dip who cares how it gets in them, right? A mom recently told me that she put green beans on her table 11 times and her kids would NOT eat them. One day she made them into bunny ears and they asked for more! Who knew?
If you’d like to add some carbs, season some low-carb bread with butter, garlic salt and shredded parmesan or mozzarella and broil until it bubbles. This carb addict (go figure) loves me some cheese bread! Yum!
Since the carbs for the Fresh Take are so low, one cup of salad (8 carbs), one pork chop (8 carbs), one piece of low-carb bread and 6 oz of milk (10 carbs), the total dinner is only 26 carbs!
The munchkins LOVED it!
No, really, they did! See? Don't make fun of my paper cups. Hehe!
Ingredients: 1 Fresh Take, 1 package of pork chops thick cut, 1 Dole salad kit, 1 bag of low carb bread(optional) and milk.
So there you have it PaulaDeen (#pauladeen)! That's how us diabetic parents do it. You'll get there. Let me know if you need any help!