I am an insulin pen

I am no ordinary pen.
My story is written in the veins of those whom I save every day.
There is no ink in me.
I push insulin through my nib into the flesh of those who need me.
Hands grasp me, dial up the dose required and plunge me into their flesh,
Multiple times of every day of every week of every year.
My needle pierces the skin, bringing a sting of pain.
Some consider me inferior, as technology could easily replace me
Yet
I am loved by many for my lack of intrusiveness and for the comfort of knowing that I will never let them down.
I have hidden strength in my little vial and never forget this.
Treat me with disdain and I can take you down.
Love me, handle me with care and attention.
Because of me, people lead lives both ordinary and amazing.
This is the gift I give.
The rest is up to you.



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Diabetes weather forecast for our region

Ok ladies and gentlemen!
On tonight’s show we are looking ahead at the diabetes weather forecast for the week.

It’s difficult to predict what lies ahead in the next few days.
Given the lull lately,
We predict a strong possibility of some highs 
Which will inevitably be followed by some unexplained lows through the night.
Be prepared for some sleepless nights as you batten down the hatches.

Those sporting fanatics amongst you will  no doubt be keen for predictions around your weekend games.
It’s finals weekend, adrenalin is pumping!
Make sure you avoid the post game lows by reducing those night time units.
Remember what happened the last time? 

Looking ahead to the weekend,
Not much activity is predicted 
The resulting change from the weekday routine may cause chaos in some households.
Don’t let that be yours!
Remember to count those carbs carefully and avoid random guesses 
You know you hate those three am wake up calls!

There we have it folks!
As you can see, forecasts are a fool’s game!
Nothing can be predicted with any certainty
So keep smiling and be prepared for any eventuality!

That boy and the egg is growing up.

The boy and the egg
Is growing up
He now carries his precious egg to a part time job.
He didn’t tell of his egg’s existence on his application as he doesn’t feel it is a disability.
Time has moved on.
He hasn’t felt brave enough to show anyone his egg.
I worry that he finds it a burden and is embarrassed by its presence.
I fear he may not find compassion and understanding when he is brave enough to show it to others.
What if he is rejected?
Not telling them about the egg is equally terrifying.
It’s real and it exists and if it cracks one day,
People need to know.
Yet and still,
It hasn’t cracked.
It isn’t broken.
He continues to live the length and breadth of his life.
And me?
I need him to be safe but
I want him to be his own man,
To find his own way.

This is how we do it….

We put one foot in front of the other.
We pray to the universe and the God we no longer believe in
To keep our child safe
Until he returns home
When we will happily carry his load.
We do all that we can
Each and every day
To keep our child safe from invisible harm.

We take solace in the normal moments:
The issues with homework not being done well,
The squabbling amongst teenage siblings,
The overuse of mobile phones,
The constant need to stay in touch with 765 ‘friends’ on Facebook ,
The obsession with animal videos on YouTube.

We rejoice in the victories:
A run of days with normal blood glucose levels,
Playing sport at 100% effort and staying in range,
The days out with friends jumping in rivers and riding bikes,
The meals out in restaurants, ordering the biggest chicken shnitzel,
The laughs around the dinner table, hanging out together.

This is how we do it.

Message Monday- My dreams and hopes.

Why the French title? Sometimes French words just sound better!

My hopes and dreams for my son who has Type 1 diabetes are so important and keeping positive about every aspect of his future keeps me motivated. This is the same for all three of my sons but, in the face of so much negativity around diabetes, it becomes all the more pertinent when you want to keep the image of a bright, positive future alive for a teenager with Type 1 diabetes. 

This time last year I stumbled across diabetes blog week. I found blogs by other parents and suddenly I didn’t feel as alone. From this grew the idea that perhaps I could write a blog too. I spend so much time thinking (but not talking) about my son’s diabetes, so why not write about it?

One of the first posts was a poem I’d written. I am not a poet. I’m a mum of three boys, a wife and a full time high school teacher. Walking was my sanity in the early days after my son was diagnosed. I’d throw my self out of bed and into my walking gear and pound the streets. My head was trying to make sense of what was happening and I found myself constantly reliving the day of his diagnosis. 

I’m pretty together in my working life and didn’t find myself often in a position of helplessness yet here I was,  feeling raw and exposed. I wrote this poem and it felt just right to share it with others who understood the feelings it expressed. The connections I’ve made through sharing this blog have given me the enthusiasm and desire to continue, albeit more sporadically. Making connections with other parents online helps so much when there is a absence of connections in my ‘real’ world.

I love the diabetes online community the most when I feel connected or when it gives me messages of hope. I know the reality, the potential future complications for my son, but I try to help him deal with his reality with realism and, together, we face each challenge as it comes. I love to read about those who have lived their lives with diabetes and thrived in the process. I don’t necessarily mean by climbing mountains or swimming across vast oceans. Things like finding love in the midst of diabetes chaos, working at jobs which are fulfilling, travelling and experiencing the world would be the pinnacle of success in my book and those are the blogs which fuel my hopes and dreams.

Now two and a half years after diagnosis, I know my son and our family have come a long way but I read this poem and I’m right back in that day. It must be around a year since I wrote my first blog post and it feels right to connect with these feelings again.

 I lost a layer of skin

I lost a layer of skin
As we entered the hospital on the day of the diagnosis.

I didn’t feel it fall off. It certainly didn’t hurt.
It gently slipped off with less than a whisper, unnoticed, like a soft, satin scarf.

I wish I had noticed it leaving.
I imagine it floating gently over the roofs of nearby houses,
Carrying with it the half formed dreams I alone held for my child,
leaving behind only rawness.
Over days, weeks and months a strange new layer has grown in its place.
It’s a bizarre contradiction – tough yet sensitive.

Watching the drops of intense ruby blood makes it want to shred itself
Glimpsing needles pierce the stomach where raspberries were once blown makes it ache.
Seeing the somber eyes of a child learning to cope leaves a hollowness.
Dragging a weary body through night times of wakefulness leaves it feeling prickly.

It’s certainly more careworn than the layer it replaces but it’s strong and it needs to be.
It bears the brave scars of battles: some internal and silent, others of epic proportions.

Hiding the multitude of maternal fears which largely remain unshared have hardened the carapace.
It has to be tough for the times when it’s all too much for a child who just wants the old normal.

The old normal isn’t coming back.
I like to imagine that I’ll find that layer of skin again someday and fashion a purpose for it in this new existence, for there is hope.

In the midst of chaos


I took my phone to class with me yesterday. It’s rare for me to do that nowadays as I’m confident my boy can manage his diabetes. Yesterday I woke feeling uneasy as he was playing in a rugby competition at school. Lots of short games with only seven players on each side.

When my phone rang, the students in my class jumped a mile and started frantically groping their pockets until they realised that the TEACHER was the guilty one. Students’ phones aren’t allowed in class. I put on my most serious voice and said, “medical emergency” (wondering what I’d say if it wasn’t) and took the call at the door.

My son’s teacher explained that my boy had been involved in an awkward tackle and had a suspected fracture of his wrist. My husband collected my son and I met them at the emergency department.

Fast forward several hours and lots of questions around how he hurt himself and was his the kind of diabetes where he had one or two injections of insulin per day. The first time someone asked the insulin question, I was quite surprised but by the fourth or fifth time I had my answer down pat. ‘ He is very healthy, has Type 1 diabetes and injects insulin six times a day’. Without fail, these health experts, nurses and doctors, were shocked. I’m not judging. They must have so much information to retain and they did want to learn about how he managed his diabetes and asked about the story of his diagnosis. My boy was gorgeous, especially  for some one who rarely talks about having diabetes, and patiently explained  his symptoms, diagnosis and how he manages it. 

He was asked a couple of times why he wasn’t on a pump and he took these conversations in his stride. It did strike me that there aren’t boundaries for some people when they talk about diabetes. To pump or not is such an intensely personal choice, when you have to make it, but for those with limited personal experience with diabetes, it is seen as a natural progression.

We then met the orthopaedic registrar who told us that an operation to realign the bones would be needed. We rocked up bleary eyed first thing this morning and the only hitch was an eager anaesthetist who wanted the usual full dose of fast acting insulin to be taken just prior to surgery, with no food, as his levels were rising. I questioned the wisdom of this as my suspicion was that this would then make his levels go very low. We compromised on a much smaller dose. I felt I could be proactive in getting what I believed to be the best dose of insulin. My experience, with the staff we had met, had led me to realise that my son and I, between us, were in possession of a vast amount of knowledge.

After a successful surgery, I then met up with my son in the kids’ ward. This was familiar territory as its where he’d gone when first diagnosed. My son was in good form and I asked him to do a blood glucose test. We laughed as he tried to figure out how to do this one handed. Suddenly from the next bed came the voice of another mum.

Looking over, I saw the most gorgeous little boy, arm in a plaster cast, just like my big son but his tiny form took up a third of the bed whereas my boy had to bend his big, lanky legs to fit in the bed.

She looked at me and said. ‘We are the same: diabetes and a broken arm!’

This little button was five years old and it had been six weeks since he was diagnosed. I wanted to scream ‘Where is the cure for this disease?’, but I didn’t. Instead, a lovely connection was made between me and this mum. She so reminded me of that sense of being shipwrecked on a foreign land that I felt when my boy was first diagnosed. In a few sentences, we forged a bond. We talked in a language that she was just learning. I’m at intermediate level and I realised that the rawness that comes on diagnosis has gone. I wrote this poem then. We swapped numbers and I hope we can meet up soon! In the midst of chaos came something positive. 

Move over Miss Marple

 

In the words of Taggart,

“There’s been a murder”

But there is no body.

A pancreas has been killed

And it’s inside my son.

My dodgy gene pool looks like the prime suspect

With weird and wonderful auto immune diseases abounding

On both sides of my family tree.

No happy valley here.

Just a predisposition

And the elusive lightening strike

That leaves him with needles and insulin pens: the wire in his blood.

I spend my days as a silent witness,

Looking for the ‘green around the gills’ tinge of an impending hypo

Trying to work out the reason for sudden high levels.

I snuffle about, metaphorical magnifying glass in hand,

Forensically examining the carb count of a recent meal,

Querying the impact of an activity or lack thereof,

Constantly learning new tricks.

There is no right or wrong in this game.

He is above suspicion.

Sleepless nights feeling like I am waking the dead: a teenage boy in deep slumber.

Blame is never attributed for the weird and wonderful numbers which

Randomly appear on that small screen.

No offence is taken by this amazing child but

No convictions will ever be made for the death of a pancreas.
Edit – how many detective shows can you find reference to?