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“How do you explain diabetes to her?”

“How do you explain diabetes to her?”

How do you explain diabetes to your kid?  I wish there was a strategy, a predictable path that conversations about health and wellness could take, like when my daughter brings out The Game of Life and I want to replace all the normal life stuff with the diabetes versions I marked as milestones along the way.

  • First time checking my blood sugar on my own.
  • First time giving my own shot.
  • Explained diabetes to a new friend.
  • Went to a sleepover and my mom didn’t come with me.
  • Earned my driver’s license and permission to get a car after proving I would check my blood sugar every time before driving.
  • Going to the endocrinologist by myself.
  • Moving out and living alone.
  • Managing emotional and physical diabetes-related complications.
  • Creating a family (this would earn me more people in my little car, right?  “People” being the little matchstick shaped things you shoved into the plastic car.)
  • Living beyond diabetes.

Trouble is, there’s no set path that diabetes takes, even with the best intentions and optimal care.  And the milestones aren’t always triumphant.  I’d be inclined to roll again if I landed on the “Manage diabetes distress pockets” or “Deal with health-related discrimination” spaces.

How do I talk about the emotional stuff tied to diabetes without shuffling those emotions right onto my daughter?  When she asks questions like, “Does diabetes scare you?” or “Are you afraid I’ll get diabetes, too?” I’m reaching to roll again.

How do I explain diabetes to my most beloved Bird?  I don’t.  Not entirely.  We have conversations about normal things, with diabetes built into the context clues.  When she was very small, we talked about how she should not push the buttons on mommy’s pump.  As she grew up, we talked about why I wore an insulin pump and other mom’s did not.  Sometimes conversations about low blood sugars came up and we dealt with those as part of the moment instead of scheduling a sit-down discussion with flash cards and a quiz at the end.

But she’s tuned in, and she notices things.  And in the last year or so, she’s elected herself captain of my support team.  If my Dexcom low alarm goes off, she drops everything she’s going and comes over and wraps her arms around my waist.  I don’t know what prompts her to do this – sometimes I think it’s the vacant look in my eyes when I’m low that makes her feel the need to double-check on me.

“Does this help, Mom?”

“It does,” I say, through a mouthful of candy corn.  “You help.”

If she were to list five things about her mom, diabetes might be on that list.  But it comes with expectations of conferences at Disney World and friends around the world, and sure, there are doctor’s appointments and moments where I need a few extra minutes and sometimes I am distracted by the need to reapply a sensor or prick my finger and all these things that beep, but that’s life with this disease. Diabetes is a cumbersome to do list that comes with a monster under the bed who I don’t often make eye contact with.

But we manage.

Explaining diabetes to her is its own challenge.  But sometimes, through her eyes, she re-explains diabetes to me.


What Happens to Your Brain When You Don’t Sleep.

There’s a little boy who lives in my house now and he seems to likes us.  He likes his big sister and he likes his mom and dad and he likes the cats.  He likes socks.  And fluffy blankets when we go on walks.  And he loves taking naps while the sun shines through the living room windows.

All awesome.

What he doesn’t like is sleeping during the night.  He fucking hates that.

As a result, we are not sleeping at night, either.  The dance of feed/change/snuggle/attempt sleep/feed/change/snuggle is endless throughout the night, making the baggage under my eyes significant and the days are starting to blend together into one, big diaper change.  My mind is on a sad circuit of this monkey:

But this is a diabetes blog.  So how’s the diabetes stuff going?  There might not be sleep, but is the brain responding to diabetes related requests?

Shit, the same gif.  That’s not optimal.

Diabetes is still there.  I still have it.  It didn’t “go away after I had the baby.”  And sometimes, throughout the day, I have myself fooled into thinking I’m on top of things.

But I’m sort of not.

Stuff I’m not on top of:  

Blood sugar checks are not happening as often as they were, or as they should be.  I’m checking my fasting blood sugar (making a point to do it immediately upon waking, because once I’m out of bed, I space out), but that’s sometimes it until after lunch time.  Not optimal once again.

Exercise is also not happening, but that’s because I’m still under the lock-and-key of the c-section.  My six week follow up is in two weeks and I’m hoping to be cleared for exercise, etc. but until then, I’m doing slow walks around the neighborhood with the tomato in the stroller and hoping my scar doesn’t rip open and all my guts spill out.  (This is a mental image I have with frightening regularity.)

Food remains a challenge, as well.  Weirdly enough, I’m having trouble eating enough these days (a stark contrast to my delight at eating too much a few weeks ago) and my spotty food intake is making breastfeeding a little bit of a challenge.  (As in, I produce less on days that I consume fewer calories.  It’s a frustrating tell.)  I am trying to make more grabby, healthy snacks (see also:  balls) so I’m able to eat on the fly without too much effort.

But this will all come with time.  Or so the mystics tell me.

Hey, but there is stuff I’m still on top of:

I’m still using the Dexcom every day,and that data is keeping me informed on how SWAG-gy my boluses have been.  My graphs have been all over the place, but I chalk that up to hormones re-balancing after giving birth, insulin:carb ratios being tweaked for postpartum needs, and a sleep schedule that is abysmal.

I’m also on top of my doctor’s appointments.  As I mentioned a few days ago, I’m building a hyper-local care team from the ground up and I’ve been on the ball about finding doctors, scheduling appointments, and working to flesh out the team.  So far, so good.

And I’m staying on top of what my kids need.  Laundry is all clean (granted, not folded and put away,  but all clean and a lovely, sorted mountain of clean it is!).  I have a steady flow of breastmilk being stashed in the freezer (in anticipation of upcoming travel, Grammie visits, and overnight feedings that Chris handles).  The Bird is being shuttled to friends’ houses and soccer practice and school without missing a beat.  My son is fed, diapered, and hugged a bunch, and is a very laid-back (albeit nocturnal) baby.  I might have only JUST NOW sat down to answer emails and work today, but my frigging KIDS are managed, so I’m calling today a mangled version of success.

Soon – SOON?! – we will be reunited with sleep.  Just in time for the time (and lancet) change.

Green Beanery.

Winter started around November of last year and continued onward with a vengeance until yesterday morning, when “42 degrees and sunny” seemed to constitute as “spring.”  The snow is all but melted (except for a few very stubborn igloos built by resourceful squirrels), so Birdy and I took advantage of the sunshine yesterday to explore our backyard.

We moved house several months ago, just before the winter came crashing in, so we don’t know much about what’s actually outside.  For all we knew, there was a hole that went straight through to Renza’s house.  We did know that there was a shed with a fenced in garden-looking area, and my hope was that it would be useable for a vegetable garden.

So yesterday, my daughter and I went out with our rakes, clippers, and yard refuse bags to find out what was underneath all the pine needles.  After a bit of raking and cleaning up, we saw that the garden was decently set up for planting.

“Good thing!  Because we have all those green beans, Mom!”

Oh hell yes we have green beans.

A few weeks ago, she and I took a crack at starting some seedlings in the house, preparing for the eventual moment when Jack Frost would loosen his grip on New England and we could plant our starter garden outside.  We bought one of those seedling trays from Home Depot and with steady preschool hands, my kid planted seed after seed from packets she picked out at the store.  (I didn’t want to stifle her excitement, so we are growing all kinds of stuff – green beans, cucumbers, eggplant, watermelon, carrots, and a woman from the ground.  It’s a festival of greenery.)

Now, several weeks later, the seedlings are starting to sprout.  We moved them to bigger pots so they could become more badass, and in a week or two, we’ll move them outside into the garden.

I’ve always wanted to have a vegetable garden, but needed a partner to help me tend the feeble crop.  (Chris is not a gardener.  He mows the lawn, rakes the leaves, and deals with any snakes/spiders/chupacabra we might stumble upon in the yard, but he’s not into weeding.)  After watching my kid diligently don her gardening gloves and rake, weed, and create impromptu shelters for any worm we came across, I realized I have my vegetable gardening partner now.

Here’s hoping I can go from seed to plate without screwing it up.  But so far, we’re having fun,


It’s a Good Tune.


“Mom, your Dexcom is making noise,” my daughter says casually, as we’re kicking the soccer ball around in the basement (because we’ll never, ever go outside again because snow).

“It is. Hang on a second,” I told her. A click shows that my blood sugar is over my high threshold, with a few yellow dots taking up residence on my graph. I’m not totally worried, though, because a check of my pump reveals some insulin still on board. I decide to let things play out and see where I land a bit later.

“I’m fine, kiddo. Let’s keep playing.”

The Dexcom has been part of my daughter’s life for as long as she can remember. When she was very small and figuring out her letters for the first time, I remember her running a tiny fingertip along the bottom of my receiver – “D-E-X-C-O-M spells … whaasat spell, Mama?”

“Dexcom. That’s the name of the machine.”

(Unlike most kids, my daughter’s list of first words included “pump,” “Dexcom,” and “diabeedles.” Maybe she’ll grow up to be a doctor? At the very least, this knowledge base has given her a leg-up on winning a few topic-specific spelling bees.)

As Birdy grew older, she started to understand some of the information that different diabetes devices provided. We’ve talked a little bit about how three digit numbers on my glucose meter that begin with “2” most often require me to take some insulin from my pump (same goes for the ones that begin with “3,” only those also come with some curse words), and how when the Dexcom makes an alarm sound, I need to check it and take some action.

“But that alarm – the BEEEEP … BEEEEP… BEEEEP! one – is one we can ignore, right Mom?”


“Yeah. When it goes BEEEEP … BEEEEP… BEEEEP, you don’t always look at it. But when it goes like this,” she raises her hands up in front of herself, like she’s sneaking up on something, “BeepBeepBeep really fast, then you look right away and get some glucose tabs.”

Funny how much she notices, how much of my diabetes self-care ritual has become a natural part of our time together.

“Kind of. The long beeps mean my blood sugar might be higher, but it’s not an emergency. The short beeps mean I have low blood sugar, and I need to get something to eat so it doesn’t become a big deal. Does that make sense?”


The sounds of the low and high alarms ringing out from my Dexcom receiver have become familiar, like a subtle (and sometimes not-so-subtle) soundtrack for my diabetes life, but I didn’t realize until recently that they are also sounds that remind my daughter of her mother.

The other morning, I heard Birdy walking into the bathroom to brush her teeth, and she was humming a little tune to herself, one that I recognized.

“Hey you. Are you singing a song?”

“Yeah. It’s the Dexcom beep song. It’s a good tune.” She grinned at me, toothbrush hanging out of her mouth.

Wild Krattsabetes.

Wild Kratts have invaded my house in a big way.  It’s okay, because Birdy loves watching them and she learns all this random stuff about animals.  (“MOM! The lion’s mane is the same color as the savannah grass,” yelled from her car seat as we’re driving.  So I’m learning too, apparently.)  She dons her version of a creature power suit and goes leaping all over the basement, pretending to be a lemur or some other critter.

“MOM!!  He has a Dexcom!!” she said one morning.

“What’s that?” I asked her, coming over and sitting next to her while she’s watching television.

“Look!” and she points to the screen.

Sure enough, the wrist communicator that the Wild Kratts use to talk to their team back at the Tortuga looks almost exactly like my Dexcom receiver.  (Please forgive me, because that whole sentence made complete and absolute sense to me.)  See for yourself:

“You’re right, kiddo!  That looks a lot like my Dexcom!”

“Yeah, but they use theirs not to keep an eye out for whoa blood sugars but to talk to Aviva.”


“Aviva.  She helps the Wild Kratts by building their creature power suits.”

And here I thought Aviva was a glucose meter from Roche.



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