Monday, February 7, 2011

Help Wanted

Last week, West Michigan experienced what a local meteorologist called one of the top storms in our history. 6.1 inches of snow fell on Tuesday, 11.1 on Wednesday. My kids had both days off of school, plus a two-hour delay on Thursday.

By Friday, I was outta here, opting to work by laptop at Panera rather than stay home. At a table nearby sat a mom of one of Theo's classmates.

"Can you believe this week?" she asked.

"I know," I said.

"And tomorrow's Saturday," she said, rolling her eyes. "Another full day."

"I know."

Though we love our children, we need time away. Or rather, I need time away, and it was nice to have confirmation that I'm not crazy. Just that little commiserating gave me the boost I needed to get back on the mom track. It's why there are message boards, internet forums, Facebook pages devoted to any known cause. We need to know we're not alone. And yet.

Diabetes. Lots o' stuff to read on the internet, as you can imagine. I'm frequently asked if I've joined a support group for parents of children with diabetes--the in-person kind or internet--and I've learned to shorten a long, wandering response to "I'm not ready yet."

The shots, the filling prescriptions, the tasks we do at home are part of life now--time-consuming, yes, and inconvenient, as was seen Sunday when I burned both the eggs and the hash browns to the same hue while checking blood sugar levels. But the diabetes management is built in, and we're handling it.

On Fridays I go to Theo's school to refill supplies, switch out their insulin pen for ours, change their lancet, perform a control test on both glucose monitors, record their numbers into my log. This taxes me emotionally, but I can't say why. Most likely it's the responsibility these actions represent, though much of the hard work is behind me. The beginning of the school year saw me making charts and educating the secretaries before and during each new scenario that would arise; now, a fairly robust system is in place. And yet we still field an average of 4 calls per week to make decisions off the page, as diabetes is too complex for any one chart.

You'd think, then, with all this emotional upheaval, I'd seek comfort from other parents of kids with diabetes. And I do, some, but I get what I need, give a little, and get outta there. Though I appreciate all you d-moms, I can't linger at your sites; it drains me to read too much about diabetes. Don't call it denial, because I learn what I need to know and act where necessary. Lean over to the table nearby for a chat, then position my head back in front of my computer to work. Because life goes on; dwell too much on my son's diabetes, and the rest of life gets too heavy.

But that's me, and I've never been a joiner. Have you turned to support groups for encouragement? How was the experience?

7 comments:

  1. I would have to say that in general it doesn't help me to read "Woe is me..." posts. I'd rather read uplifting. Because I love to hear how people are enjoying life with diabetes. Because for the most part, that's what we try to do. There are so many worse problems than diabetes! And, so I'm not going to be obsessing over the livable diagnosis we have when so many people have a much, much harder time living life with more serious disabilities. I'd rather read good tips about managing etc. Overall, diabetes doesn't matter much to me. It might be somewhat inconvenient for my son -- and I acknowledge sometimes it's going to make his life hard -- but doesn't everyone have something difficult?

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  2. You're absolutely right. There are people facing more incapacitating disabilities, and I'd never pretend we've got it worse. But when someone says to me (you excluded, since you're a d-mom!), "At least it's a manageable disease," I smile politely but secretly want to punch the snot out of them. Because what others have doesn't diminish--or elevate--what you are dealing with. Everyone has their personal struggles, and to them, their little thing might be harder to deal with than your big thing. (All these "yous" aren't directed at you--just my general theories on the subject!)

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  3. By the way, when I just read over what I wrote, I wanted to make sure you knew I didn't mean I thought you were a "Woe as me..." I was just saying that in general I prefer the blogs that don't dwell on all the negatives! (Though, I think everyone is going to need to vent sometimes.) That's why I like your blog. You have a life outside of diabetes...and what a varied life that is!

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  4. I can't speak to diabetes at all--it sounds like a whole world that you've been discovering, Amy, but I can answer your question about support groups--from my perspective as a fellow mother and writer. I've always turned around and run as fast as I can from all groups that exist to pull like-minded people together. That is, I think, why I choose a route different from graduate school (a bunch of writers in a room--ah!) and why "Mom" groups freak me out. I guess it's because being defined by any one part of my life makes me uncomfortable. People are endlessly complex, deep pools of water. You can stick a few drops in a beaker and say "That's it!" My dear friend has been struggling with serious cancer for a while, and though I wandered through the internet for a few minutes, I'd much rather find support for her and for her friends in our organic community--people who love each other, all with their own diverse struggles and joys, all willing to share and be comforted and celebrated by each other.

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  5. Roselady, I didn't think you meant me; in fact, I knew exactly what you meant. No worries!

    Kim, I'm exactly like you (I mean, we're totally unique individuals who happen to share some similar characteristics). You were the closest thing to a mom group I ever liked, back in Iowa. (Do you remember my story from then about the group I ended up in simply because our kids ages matched? We were talking about books and someone said, "Life's too short for fiction." They went on to discuss all the great pop psychology Christian bestsellers.) I realized after writing this post that my fears were more in this department than diabetes. Never been a joiner. I've noticed lately that "like-minded people" aren't usually where I think I'll find them, and people who seem right on the page often aren't.

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  6. "Life's too short for fiction?"
    That's so wrong on so many levels. Fiction is all about life. What did C.S. Lewis say? "We read to know we are not alone." I don't believe he was talking about self-help books.

    Iowa. . .yeah, we had a good little group of two going on there many days, didn't we? I have this good memory of you standing at your stove, cooking up yet another delicious meal for your peeps who didn't care for leftovers. Boiling chicken breast for Theo and mixing up a curry for everyone else. Good memories.

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