The final weeks of winter have been a challenge. I sat anxiously at home, biting my nails and praying we’d get through this season unscathed. But, it happened. I woke up around 2 a.m. to check Ava’s blood sugar and she woke up, thirsty. Blood sugar was in range. Her skin was hot. I checked her temperature – 1oo.4. She said her stomach was hurting, and my heart did a somersault. I’ve been living in silent fear of the stomach virus, ever since she was diagnosed.
She had one night of vomiting in the second year after diagnosis when she was still very small, that caused her blood sugars to drop dangerously low for several hours and we kept feeding her juice and lollipops. She was crying and inconsolable, and started refusing the sugar. I upped my game to Cake-Mate (a common recommendation for treating serious lows) and I can still see her tiny face, red and sweating, tears rolling down with her mouth full of frosting. It was the second scariest night of my life.
Thankfully, she has only had maybe one or two incidences of vomiting since. We have been so very lucky. What makes me so scared? I know that stomach viruses for a type 1 can quickly land them in the emergency room – both for uncontrollable blood sugars (often accompanied by stubborn ketones) and for dehydration. And this year, I read story after story from other D-parents of kids being deathly ill from this stomach bug and going to the emergency room. And it hit me hard. I felt tearful and scared for them, and tearful and scared for us. And this is SO not like me. I have always been the doer – and with that comes the responsibility of diabetes management, and so I have tackled it like everything else I’ve ever done – put my head down and just plowed ahead. Emotions don’t play a role in my day-to-day. But this changed for me this year.
Suddenly, I was feeling everything. It’s like I was having a delayed response to her diagnosis, nearly 8 years later. It didn’t change how I treated her. It changed how I felt inside about all of this. And let me tell you – it does NOT help to be reading about other parents’ struggles over this horrible disease on an almost daily basis. And to clarify – I’m not referring to those I’ve personally friended – I’m referring to a particular page I joined with over 2100 members with children who have type 1 diabetes, many of whom are newbies just beginning to cope with this new life. With stats like that, it’s going to be a challenge not to “feel” sadness every time you open Facebook. I don’t want to quit the page, but I need to hide it so it doesn’t come through my newsfeed every hour.
So anyway. Ava did not have the stomach bug – she had a very mild version of the flu (thanks to the flu shot she is required to get), and suffered through fever, fatigue, headache, loss of appetite, and mild ketones. And those made me scared too. But we worked through the ketones with plenty of fluids and insulin, and Ava took her first shot of insulin in probably 6 years. She doesn’t remember taking insulin that way, and she was freaked out. And then she was like, oh – that wasn’t so bad.
So she was sick for 3 days. Then Owen got it. And thankfully, it was mild for him too. Headaches and fever, and body aches. On his second day, I woke up feeling like I’d been in a car wreck. And, because I’m an adult over 40, it took me a week to feel normal again.
In the weeks that followed, I’ve been noticing my anxiety levels rising to unnatural levels, with no explanation. It’s no secret I take medication to “take the edge off.” My doctor prescribed it for me 3 years ago at Christmastime, because I had been crying for week. I’ve written all about my divorce and custody war so this should come as no surprise. Nevertheless, I don’t suffer from depression, and this drug is really for that. So, obviously I don’t need that – hence why it doesn’t feel like it’s doing anything for me.
Meanwhile, high anxiety, heart palpitations, shortness of breath and tightness in the chest. This culminated into a St. Patrick’s Day trip to the ER and, while everyone else was drinking green beer, I was poked and prodded and x-rayed and scanned – and all was unremarkable save for an extra heartbeat and some PVCs. I had a stress test, an ultrasound, and a Holter study. I changed medication, but I’m not convinced it’s really working yet.
And the hits keep coming. My grandfather celebrated his 90th birthday and promptly fell and could not get up, sending him to the ER and finally to the rehab center where his 96-year-old wife is recovering from her own fall weeks earlier. The restaurant lost another server, putting me back on the schedule every weekend for now. One side of the family is dealing with growing pains and the drama that accompanies it – and I find myself praying that I don’t have this much trouble with my children one day. Another side of the family is presently enduring an unimaginable trial that has me sick to my stomach, if only for the injustice and my own inability to help. But, I can promise you – when it is over I will shout this story from the rooftops for all the world to read, if they will let me share it. My husband, the healer, is doing what he does best with cracked people – for which I am forever grateful, but cannot but selfishly wish he would just not answer the phone, if only for his own sanity.
And then there’s my employment odyssey.