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Posts tagged ‘Birdy’

Warning: The One About UTIs.

The last time I had a urinary tract infection was about ten years ago.

I used to get them every once in a while, and while I’m sure it was horrible at the time, these infections weren’t frequent enough to make a mark on my memory.  I know that ‘feeling,’ of the twinge of pain after urinating when the muscles re-clench and how that was the hallmark sign that I needed to call my doctor and go in for a urinalysis ASAP, but overall, these infections were few and far between.

The one firm memory I have of these infections was how quickly they would come on for me – in a matter of hours, I would go from “fine” to “decidedly not fine.”  My OB/GYN at the time confirmed what my endocrinologist had always told me:  type 1 diabetes makes issues like yeast infections and urinary tract infections move quickly and aggressively.

The worse one I had was at my grandfather’s funeral, which took place in the midst of my parents’ divorce and during a time when diabetes was unattended to (<– massive understatement).  I was slow in recognizing and responding to symptoms, slow in contacting a doctor, and pretty much slow to anything that even came close to self-care.  These days, I’m better about self-care, but even still, things like a urinary tract infection can crop up in a matter of hours and make a mess of things.

Last Friday afternoon, Chris and I were preparing for Birdy’s birthday party and doing the whole clean things/bake things/set up things cycle that comes with party hosting.  At 4.40 pm, I headed to the store to grab a few last minute things, and I felt fine.  I came home around 5.30 pm and still felt completely fine.  At 6.10 pm, I went to use the bathroom and had that weird twinge of pain while urinating.  And by 6.45 pm, I was using the bathroom every three minutes (not an exaggeration) and in extreme pain, with a fever of 101 and a Dexcom graph that was doubly pointed north.  By 7.30 pm, I was peeing blood and hosting every other symptom of a UTI (lower abdomen pain, constant and painful urge to urinate, pain when urinating, cloudy urine, blood in urine, shooting pain after peeing, fever, chills, and oh yeah, instant blood sugar issues).

“Decidedly not fine.”

Of course this happens on a Friday evening, when doctor’s offices are closed.

Which is why I am so, so thankful to be a patient in a doctor’s office where there is an on-call doctor who was able to return my message within 15 minutes and order a UTI test and also provide a prescription for antibiotics to kick the infection to the curb.  Even though I had to stop en route to the pharmacy (six minutes away) to use the bathroom, I was diagnosed and medicated by 8.45 pm and feeling much more human by 11 pm.   And by birthday party time (the next afternoon), I was almost completely better.

Thank you, excellent medical team, for being almost as quick as the onset of this urinary tract infection.  You saved me from peeing in pain whilst serving birthday cake at my kid’s party, and I’m very grateful.

(Note:  the frosting is yellow due to food coloring.  After all this discussion about pee, I wanted to make sure that distinction was clear.)



Plastic Apples and Measuring Cups.

Her desk was anchored on either side by tall bookshelves crammed with pretend food.  Plastic fruit – apples, bananas, oranges, kiwis that looked like fuzzy dumplings – and the cardboard shell of cereal boxes.  Plastic slabs of steak with edging to make it look like it had a pat of butter melting on top, and the entire plastic carcass of a chicken, woefully untrue to size, making it the same size as one of the kiwi dumplings. Measuring cups and food scales, lists and charts, meal plans and index cards covered with suggested serving sizes.

It always felt embarrassing, seeing the nutritionist and the dieticians, especially when I was in my teens.  I struggled with my weight as a kid but didn’t ever dip into “overweight,” just more settled on the heavier end of the approved spectrum.  I hated meal plans and the emotional influence of food on my life.  Visiting the plastic food lady as part of the flow every few endocrinologist appointments felt shameful, and I wondered what my classmates would think if they knew I was lectured about eating and food every few months.  Would they know how complicated my relationship with food really was?  Dietician appointments felt like mini-fat camps, and even though I did feel better-informed leaving the appointments, I still felt stupid and ashamed that there were required in the first place.

Moving forward a few decades, diabetes is still very much in play.  I don’t see a dietician as often now as I did when I was growing up, but I do attend a lot of diabetes conferences where registered nurses, dieticians, and nurse educators present, giving me access to refresher courses on food, eating well, and the latest in food and diabetes research. The plastic food is still in play, only the plastics aren’t relegated to my CDE’s bookcases anymore.  Now, the plastics are invading my home.  My daughter’s room is awash with kitchen playthings and miniature versions of what my dietician used as visual aids back in the day.  We talk quite a bit about food and why we eat the things we do.  I try not to let my food-through-the-lens-of-diabetes mindset invade how she sees her plate, even though it’s hard, since we spend so much time together and she sees so much of my diabetes day-to-day management (attempts).

“We need to eat healthy foods so we can grow to be strong and smart and healthy,” I tell her.  “Yeah, and we always need to eat something green with our meals,” she adds, knowingly.  “And sometimes we have juice in the fridge, but it’s for your low blood sugars.”

I don’t want my daughter to think that there are so many food “rules.”  I want her to eat things that make her feel good and that taste good, without looking at her plate and thinking her value as a person rests there.

In her room, she ‘cooks’ up a storm, throwing random items into the plastic stock pot on her pretend stove.  “We need an eggplant, and a hard boiled eggie, and some ash … ash … ASHparagust, and Wonder Woman,” with all of the aforementioned tossed into the “boiling” water.

“What are you cooking, Birdzone?”

“I’m making soup. It will be so delicious. When I’m done, you can have a bowl.”

“What’s in it?”

“Don’t worry, Mommy.  There’s something green in there.  There’s ashparagust.”

March is National Nutrition Month (more about that on the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics website), and this year’s campaign encourages people to “Enjoy the taste of eating right.”  The phrasing of that message is so hopeful, and without residual shame:  enjoy.  Enjoy the taste of eating right, whatever “right” might be for you.Yes!  I’d like to!  I’ll do that!

My hope is to eventually shake the preposition off “eating with diabetes” and just focus on “eating.”

Close, but(t) not close enough.

“My mom?  She has brown hair and a red shirt,” said my daughter’s playgroup friend, climbing up the jungle gym.

“My mom is over there.  She has a pump in her butt,” my daughter pointed towards me and waved, causing me to quickly answer the look of surprise on the other parents’ faces with a brief, panicked explanation of the insulin pump connected to the top of my left hip.


Hashtag Motherhood with Diabetes.

“What is that?” my daughter’s friend asked me from over her plate of scrambled eggs as I was watching the two kids for the morning.

Before I could answer, my kid piped up, “That’s her insulin pump.  It has insulin in it.”

“Oh,” the other three year old answered, mouth full of eggs.  “What’s it for?”

“It has my medicine in it, for diabetes.  Remember?” I said, reminding my daughter’s friend of conversations we had at the beach over the summer, when she had previously asked me about my insulin pump.

“Yeah.  Hey, what’s that tunnel?”

Birdy interrupted again:  “That’s the tubing and it goes into her body and the insulin goes in the tube – insulin comes from a small bottle you cannot touch – and the tube is really squishy and Loopy likes to chase it,” and right on cue, the cat came leaping out of nowhere and batted at the pump tubing dangling between my hands as I primed my pump.

Both girls laughed.  “LOOPY!!!”

Loopy twirled, burped, and scampered back into living room in a flurry of gray fur.  The girls resumed breakfast, and I resumed prepping my new infusion set.

“Sometimes my mom has whoa blood sugars but most of the time we just eat the glucose tabs from the Glucose Tab Man and then it’s all better and we go back to playing with the dollhouse,” Birdy offered.

“What’s a glucose tab?” her friend asked.

“Oh, those are these!!”  Birdy leapt down from her chair and ran off to grab one of the blue jars.  “Sometimes mom lets me have a very, very, very small bite.  Do you want a very, very, very small bite?”


Which is how my daughter and her friend ended up chasing their scrambled eggs with very, very, very small bites of wildberry glucose tabs.

Diabetes Art Day Outtakes.

Before we settled on paper dolls for Diabetes Art Day, there was an unnatural exploration of cats and a finger painting app on the iPad (don’t read that sentence too fast or it will give you an unintended mental image).  This is what happens when the snow keeps falling and it’s far too heavy and constant to shovel so you’re stuck at home, taking art direction from a three and a half year old:

“How about we put the pump on Siah?”

“Sure, like this?”

“Yeah, only the tubing is across her belly button and she’s going to get stuck to the doorknob for sure.”  (Birdy doesn’t know much about diabetes, but she knows I end up tethered to things more often than I’d like.)

“Hey, is that Siah’s Dexcom?  On her leg?  Like you wear!”


“I don’t know what any of that is, Mawm.”

“That’s Siah.  She’s wearing a blue circle pin for World Diabetes Day.  And behind her is …”


“Nope.  A calendar.”

“We need one with Loopy.”

“Okay.  Here’s the Loopster with some glucose tabs.  And glucose tab dust all over her fur.”

“Whoa blood sugars are dusty.”

“Yes they are.”

Green Drink Redux.

We have a rule at our house: “You have to eat something green with your meal.”  Caveat:  boogers don’t count.  Also, ew.

Even though it’s more of a “rule” (there’s flexibility), we try to keep it as a rule because it’s important to us as a family to eat well.  Taking a look at “kid’s menus” at restaurants is very frustrating – why is my growing child offered grilled cheese and french fries as standard fare?  And why does the waiter look at me funny when I ask for broccoli to be subbed in for the fries?

I can’t think about this too much or I’ll pop in frustration.  Moving on to green drink.

Green Drink is something Chris used to make well before we were married, and his version was delicious, if not a touch frothy.  Over the years, we’ve worked on different versions of this drink in efforts to make it tastier.  With “worked on” being a loose description – our attempts are anchored in “what’s in the fridge” and “how new is the blender.”  We burn through blenders in this house.

Birdzone knows about the “eat something green” rule, and she sticks with it.  (Even at my mother’s house, where she says, “I need to eat something green, too,” as my mom sets down a plate of spaghetti and meatballs.  So then then the meals becomes spaghetti, meatballs, and a rogue side bowl of peas.  Well-played, Birdy.)  The Birdzone respects the green rule, and will try any green drink we concoct, even if they get a little weird.

The last iteration of Green Drink was my favorite yet:


1/2 apple
3/4 cucumber
1 cup of baby spinach
1 very ripe avocado
1 tsp lemon juice
1 stalk(er) of celery
1 cup of ice water
1 packet of Truvia (or whatever fake sweetener you prefer*)

The ingredients are simple, as are the instructions:

Take out your cutting board so you don’t ruin the counter tops and then hack the apple, celery, and cucumber into bits.  Throw them into the blender.

Since the avocado should be ripe-to-the-point-of-borderline-falling-apart, peel it and slice directly into the blender.

Take the spinach by the fistful and rip it up.  This is a pleasantly violent process, and is beneficial for stress release.  It also helps the blender to liquify the spinach.

Pour the ice water into the mix.

And now for the sweetener.  *I use Truvia in mine, because that is the fake sweetener packet-o-poison I have chosen for this drink.  You can feel free to add whichever sweetener you’d like, if at all.  The choice is yours!

Blend until the mixture is at a consistency you can either suck through a straw or drink straight from the glass.  Add a few ice cubes for maximum coldness (or snow, if you’re in New England and currently being blizzarded on.  Green slushy!)

Then drink it alongside your spaghetti and meatballs, because you need to eat something green, damn it!

Birdy’s Book Favorites.

At least a third of my books were bloated when I was a kid, because I read them in the shower.  (Hold the book against the wall and turn the pages with one hand, and shower/soap up/rinse off with the other hand.  Then, at the end of the shower, toss the book out and quickly wash the Other Arm.)

I read while having my hair washed at the hair dresser’s.  I read in bed underneath the covers with a flashlight, and I kept an extra flashlight on my bedside table in case the batteries on the first one ran out.  (I should have just kept extra batteries.  Or maybe put a lamp on the table, for crying out loud.)  Heaps of books, dog-eared and loved, dot the timeline of my childhood.

In raising my daughter, I want for her life to include books.  Plenty of them.  And because I can’t even stand to think about diabetes even one, little bit today, I wanted to redirect and share some of the books in my daughter’s bookshelf that we currently love best:

Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson, illustrated by Axel Scheffler:  This is the best book to read out loud, about a witch who goes for a joyride on her broom, only her hat, and her bow, and her wand go flying off and she has to find them on the ground, gaining her some random pals.  The rhyme pattern is fun and almost renders you breathless because you want to move through the words and keep your cadence from catching your giggles.  Birdy is a little bit afraid of the dragon that pops up in this book – “That dragon really wants fries, and not the witch, right?  Say right.” – but she likes to shout out “The witch tapped the broomstick and whoosh they were gone!” line every time.

Knuffle Bunny, written and illustrated by Mo Willems:  The story of a much-loved stuffed rabbit who is left behind in a Brooklyn laundromat, I love the combination of illustration and photography in this book.  I also love how the child’s tantrum is described as becoming “boneless,” as this perfectly describes the fit Birdzone threw when I told her it was time for her bath.  (“A bath! I had a bath YESTERDAY. This is unfair!” and she collapsed in a sulky heap.)  Spoiler alertwhen the bunny is found, the relief is tangible.

The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt, illustrated by (the absolute genius) Oliver Jeffers:  Best.  Book.  Ever.  A box of crayons that belongs to this kid Duncan go full-on letters-to-the-editor and start airing their grievances.  Our family favorites are the curmudgeonly Beige crayon, the wistful White crayon, and the naked Peach crayon.  This book has made us rethink our coloring options, and has also increased our child-to-crayon politeness.

The Incredible Book Eating Boy by (aforementioned genius) Oliver Jeffers:  This was the first book by Jeffers that I ever discovered, about a boy who wanted to be the smartest boy in the world and discovered that, by eating the books instead of reading them, he retained their knowledge.  Only trouble was, the more he ate, the more jumbled his thoughts became.  I have been reading this one to Birdy since she was two, and for a while, I was concerned she’d be inspired to taste a book.  Thankfully, she’s smarter than me.  (I briefly licked one, and haven’t felt any smarter as a result.)

Dragons Love Tacos by Adam Rubin, illustrated by Daniel Salmieri:  Who wouldn’t want a bunch of dragons burping up fire as a result of eating spicy tacos?  Not me, which is why this book is a useful how-to on keeping dragons up to their talons in tacos without them burning your house down.  (Chris claims to think this book is ridiculous, yet he’s read it to Birdy more than I have.)  Fun Fact:  Dragons get most of their tacos from The Taco Cave.

I hope her love for reading is just beginning, and I’m always on the hunt for more books to share with my favorite Bird.  If you have any recommendations, please share them.  And if you know Oliver Jeffers personally, please tell him we recycle more, thanks to the inspiring green crocodiles he drew.


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