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Posts tagged ‘childhood’

On Paper.

“So you write a blog about diabetes?  Don’t you run out of things to write about?”

A really nice lady at the JDRF event past weekend posed this question to me.

There’s always something, some bit of minutiae to chose to chronicle.  Maybe the blood sugar of 70 mg/dL coupled with a southeasterly Dexcom arrow that woke me up at 3 am.  Could be the realization that I haven’t changed my lancet in mumble mumble days.  Or my husband’s question – “Do we have AA batteries?” – and my immediate thought of “I use them in the pump.  I hope we do!”

Could be that every meal, every snack, every bit of exercise, every time before I drive, every time I pee (“Is this high blood sugar or is this just … pee?”) … so many moments take something diabetes-related into account.  It’s not “woe is we” but sometimes just whoa, because diabetes can take up a lot of thought space.

“No, there’s pretty much always something to write about,” I answered.

And her face fell a little bit, and I realized she was asking not for herself, but for her son who was living with type 1 diabetes.  I didn’t realize that the underlying question wasn’t about writing prompts but more, “Will diabetes always be on his mind?”

Diabetes will always be on his mind, just a little.  Just enough to keep tabs on it.  Sometimes more often, depending on the needs of his body and his mind.

But even though there will be so many moments when diabetes is taken into consideration throughout the course of our lives with it, they’re just moments.  They don’t define his whole life.

“There’s always something to write about, but I chose to write about these diabetes things and to focus on them.” I amended, wanting to hug her.  “I’m not highlighting these moments in my life … just on paper.”

She smiled, looking relieved.  “On screen, right?”

“Exactly.”

 

Postcards from Eddie.

Sometimes the only concrete proof that diabetes hasn’t been with me forever are the cards my classmates sent.  Made from Manila paper, the kind found in abundance in elementary school, the kids in my class used their Dixon Ticonderoga No. 2 pencils and a fistful of crayons to let me know they were thinking about me.

“Dear Kerri, I heard you were sick.  We cleaned out our desks yesterday.  You left your lunch here.  The pear was all rotten.  Hope you feel better soon.  – Mike.”  This card was illustrated in pencil, showing a skeleton picking up a spoiled bag lunch from the garbage can.

“Dear Kerri, Get well soon!  Love, Megan.”  A rainbow of three colors, – pink, blue, and purple – sprawled across the sky, represented by one line.  A tree with two apples hanging enormously from its branches stood exactly the same height as the building labeled “Hospitoll”.

These cards are safely packed away, somewhere at my dad’s house, with the pee alarm and the old blue comfort pillow that I used to clutch while I sucked my thumb.  My mother always claimed that she’d give me these things before my wedding day, a promise she followed through on when my husband and I married in 2008.

Even if I never see them again, I remember the cards.  I remember snippets of those years like they were postcards from someone else’s life.

A picture of the carousel near my childhood home brings back memories of black raspberry ice creams, riding my bike into the village with that Jack of Hearts card stuck in the rear tire, and collecting the perfect, miniature shells that washed up on the shoreline after the hurricanes made their tour.  No memories of a finger stick or an injection.  But I do remember that, if I rode my bike all the way to the beach, I could have ice cream without taking a shot.

I don’t remember everything about my diagnosis.  They spoke mostly to my parents.  My dad paced the room and looked out the window.  My mom sat at the table with the endocrinologist, listening and taking notes.  Books on long and short acting insulin, a proposed diet, and a chart to log my blood sugars slid across the table.

I wasn’t paying too much attention to these attempts at education.  The 13 year old boy who shared my hospital room had been bitten by a poisonous spider and was hooked up to an IV drip bag that I found much more interesting.  The bite mark was an angry pink and the boy said it itched tremendously.  He and his IV pole and me with my Kitty sat in the children’s ward and watched television.  He introduced himself as Eddie.  I told him my name, too.

“What are you in for?”  He raked his fingers down the side of his ankle, where the bite waged war on his immune system.

“I have diabetes.”

“Oh.  I’ve got a spider bite.”

“Wow.  Can I see it?”

“Sure.”  He rolled up his pant leg and exposed the sore.  “Where’s yours?”

“I don’t have any marks on me,” I responded.  We watched TV while our parents talked to doctors.

In a box in my attic today, I found a postcard from Eddie.  We corresponded as pen pals for for several years.  I remember writing to him about cats and going to the beach, ice cream and bike rides, but never diabetes.

Take Good Care of Me.

Hi, Sara(aaah)!

Early Bird art, circa April 2013. The Hello Kitty period.

“I’m going to draw a picture of Grandpa.”

“Okay, so where do you start?”

She put her finger to her lips, pondering.  “How about … a head!  With two eyes!  And a nose with nostrils.  And some cheeks.”

Birdy pressed her pen against the paper, painstakingly drawing a circle for the head, and then two eyes, and a nose.  Her attention to detail shows me how much of the world she draws in through her eyes.

“So then … a neck?”  She draws a nice, loooong neck.  (Her people sometimes look like the kin of giraffes.)  “And then some shoulders and a necklace?”

“Does Grandpa wear a necklace?”

“No …” She thinks again.  “He wears a watch.  And then … hmmm … what else he has on his body?”

“Well, people have lots of the same body parts.  Two eyes, two ears, nostrils, teeth, a neck.  Look at mommy’s body – what do I have that Grandpa also has?”

She surveyed my body closely.  “We already has the eyes.  And the nose.  Oh, knees!!”  Pressing the pen to her notebook with satisfaction, some knees were added to her drawing.  “But not a Dexcom.  You have a Dexcom.  You has one but I don’t have one. Or Grandpa doesn’t have one.  You have it.”

“True.  But what does it do?”

“It goes ‘BEEEEEP!’ when you need glupose tabs or if you need some insuwin.”

“Right.  It helps me do my job.  Because what’s my job?”

“To take good care of me,” she says, concentrating hard as she gave Grandpa a second nose.

 

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