Sunday, January 29, 2012

These Things Are Wrong

1. Our local chapter of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation hosting a pancake breakfast.

Let it be known that Type 1s can have pancakes. They may eat anything they want if they inject themselves with the proper amount of insulin. But pancakes are difficult to account for, as are bagels and pizza, rice and potatoes. The glycemic index mixes with the fat content to produce a blood sugar unpredictability that I, for one, avoid when possible.

Maybe I would have forgiven JDRF for this fundraiser had it not been for our one visit to their office. At an open house, they served--wait for it--chocolate cake. And soda. And boxes of chocolates.

Once again: Type 1s can have their cake and eat it, too. Theo has desserts often. Yet an organization devoted exclusively to the management of blood sugars could maybe come up with something other than cake, chocolates and pop to serve.

I pulled out the calculator near Theo's cake, and said, half-jokingly, "You're going to tell us the carb count for this, right?"

"Ha!" the director answered. "Good luck with that."


2. Exciting Easter Crosses.

Oriental Trading Company is already advertising Easter, and each year at this time my kids and I hastily flip through their catalog to get to our favorite product: "Exciting Easter Crosses."

In a section bragging "Religious Crafts kids love," you'll find these exciting representations of Christ's crucifixion, which you can decorate with small lambs, hearts, and your name (optional).

Also holding their own in the excitement category are these products:

  • Inflatable "He Lives!" Beach Balls
  • "He Lives!" Footballs
  • Easter Inspirational Paddleball Games

..and my personal favorite,

  • Plush Long Arm Religious Gorillas

Online descriptions and names differ slightly from the catalog, but I promise you: I'm not making this up.

And, in the interest of full disclosure, I admit to buying the Exciting Easter Crosses once when my kids were really small.

Too much excitement: we never fully recovered.

Friday, January 27, 2012

For Better Or For Worse, Til Death

I was sad because I had no shoes, until I met a man who had no feet.
And I said, "Hey, Footless Dude, guess you won't mind if I take your shoes."
--from It's happy bunny: Life. Get One.

In the early 90s I managed a professional children's choir, which was often hired to sing at weddings. One Saturday, after rehearsing in the basement of the church, we formed a line and prepared to head upstairs for the ceremony. Except...the door was locked.

The director grew flustered. The children scaled the walls to test the windows. But in a time before cell phones, there was nothing we could do but wait.

Months into the rehabilitation of a few injuries, all I can do is wait. And I feel a little like Happy Bunny: unable to summon a spirit of gratefulness. I'm not allowed to hit or jump, so boxing's out, which effectively cancels out most of my self-imposed goals and deadlines.

Some of which is nice. The break--it's nice. When all this first hit, I acted as the choir director did, working myself up, but now I feel like the manager I was back then: smiling and at peace, knowing I've done what I can and the next step will reveal itself.

That's not to say a few identity crises didn't pass by, making me wonder why I ask so much of myself, and why I rate myself according to what I've done. Mostly though, the lessons are what's generally applicable, and worth considering here. Like...

Stuff happens. When injuries started arriving, I thought I was a failure. A knee splint was the red letter spelling out my ineptitude. But limits, when you push them, are found. Here! Here's your limit! You reached it! Some injuries are inevitable.

But most stuff shouldn't. Though I know a fair amount about fitness, I lived with far too many muscle imbalances and compensations that eventually caught up to me. I hear this from people all the time: they live with injuries forever, as if it's just simply part of them ("my bad knee" is a common one). Many aren't meant to be, however, and many will cause you new problems if they're not addressed. Bottom line is you need to seek out expert advice. You need to take care of your body so you can stay active well into your later years. You may think you know what you're doing--as I did--but, as with any activity in any field, it's best to seek out some expert advice along the way.

Because everything's got to work together. Most people aren't asked to do knuckle push-ups during their physical therapy, but that's one of the reasons why Dr. Ross is the greatest: he believes that full out rest won't heal you up. At my appointment last week he asked me to perform the push-ups. Then he asked me to drop lower on my knuckles and hold. A little higher, and hold. I'm laughing, because this is difficult, but the analysis wasn't funny: my triceps weren't firing. Somehow, I'm doing knuckle push-ups without them, because they'd shut down with the other known injuries.

Later tests revealed I also wasn't using my back enough during shoulder exercises, or when lifting a bag of groceries, or a jug of milk, and all this put undue stress on the forearms. I wasn't using everything that's there and waiting to be used.

The last lesson, then, is one of exercise--proper form, people--but also a general one that got me thinking about how I approach life. How you shut off parts of yourself when you go to do this or that. Sometimes that's necessary, sometimes you've got to stop letting your biceps have all the fun during rows, but often, a situation would do best with all of you. You can pull it off, but the stress of that will add up.

Which aspects of you have you been neglecting?

What have you accepted as a cross to bear, rather than a problem to be fixed?

The children's choir, by the way, was eventually found and ushered to the sanctuary in time. And I feel I've been rescued just in time, too.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Sweet and Sour Chicken

Do I only write sad posts about diabetes? I suppose if my blog were dedicated to the topic, I might regularly explore all sides (like this kinda fun one). However, my blog is dedicated to whatever I'm thinking about, and rarely am I thinking anything good about diabetes.

Today it made me cry, again. I'd like to point out here that although in the first year since my son's diagnosis of type 1 I was a bit weepy, lately I've been doing well. At our appointment with the endocrinologist Wednesday, not a single tear was shed, except maybe briefly when the diabetes educator mentioned...well, something that may or may not have been related to the disease. But otherwise, I was good. And Theo sat reading a book.

Today's tears are hardly worth mentioning had they not caught me so completely off guard. Shortly after noon the school secretary called to say the math I had done for the insulin shot, based on Theo's hot lunch choice of pizza, was now unuseable. The cafeteria was offering instead a special meal celebrating Chinese New Year.

My kids eat hot lunch only once a week, and it's a big deal. And yet it seems every time Theo's turn rolls around, something happens that cuts into his enjoyment. Often he's sitting out a low blood sugar, and the hot lunch is no longer hot. Today, his blood sugar was in range, but the menu threw us a curveball.

I asked that they send him to lunch while we determined the carb count (it's not ideal to eat before the shot, but it's not the worst thing). I hung up to check the carb count online, but it wasn't on the school's site (naturally; it was a last minute change). I called back and was transferred to the head of food service.

A long discussion on the chicken ensued. Was it breaded? Grilled? Seasoned, she said. With breading, I ask? No...she hesitates...just seasoning. Like grilled, then, I say. Uh, yes. So no carbs, then.

He skipped the sauce, so how much is the rice? 24.7.
And the fortune cookie? 6.

The chocolate milk I remember is 21.7; she verifies this. I ask to be transferred back to the secretary.

Jane uses her calculator to add these numbers and divide them by 18, our carb ratio for lunch. Her math can't be right; the number after the decimal point is obviously off. Just as she's doublechecking, a call comes through in their office from the food service woman, who has just discovered that the chicken is breaded.

We do new math, and I account for the fact that although the rice carb count is probably correct as given, Theo's blood sugar will run low if I give him the same ratio of insulin for the rice as for the other foods. I round down and hope for the best.

Twenty minutes have passed. Theo's back by in their office by then, happily eating his fortune cookie. They give him a shot of three units. I go to the bathroom to cry sweet and sour tears.

Monday, January 16, 2012

I Found The Answer, And It Only Cost Thirty-Two Dollars

Well, maybe not the final word, but this here bag has my kids exerting themselves without any prompting from me.

This, you'll recall, has been a goal of mine. Maybe we should use a grander word here--a quest, a mission, an Oh-God-I'm-Flunking-Parenting desperate grasp for help.

Thank God I ventured out on Black Friday (at night, when Bed Bath And Beyond was as quiet as any other day) and used one of those coupons we all collect like trading cards.

A few weeks later I signed up both kids for a Sports Sampler class at the Y.

They both....wait for it...loved the class.

Stunned, Greg and I asked why. How. Really, you loved it? They did. They just couldn't say why. And that was just fine with us.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Lab Mice

Two cages side by side, an aging and/or injured mouse in each.

We had recently separated our remaining mice, as Bitey (also known as Bully, Bruiser, and all around Bad Mouse) was relentless in his attack on the other, whose name is either Bobby, Frank or Fred, and, post-injury, called Bleedy.

Bleedy deserved to live out his days in peace, and so we set about arranging the former cockroach cage for Bad Bruiser. Subsequent days were easier on Bleedy, if a little slow. With no one to chase him, Bleedy, whose wounds were healing but whose fur was falling out, spent much of each day sleeping. Meanwhile, Bad Bitey was often found scratching his head, which looked mangier by the minute.

What a way to live--and die, I thought, passing them on my hourly pilgrimage to the laundry room. Not much time left, and some of the spunk is gone. Maybe they could cohabitate once again, peacefully this time?

Yesterday I put them in the same cage. The mice were not consulted in this decision.

Two cages, side by side, with both mice in one of them... chasing and squealing. Almost immediately.

I figured I'd give them a little more time, and then, if Bleedy started bleeding again (or just before), I could return them to the former arrangements easily enough.

Because maybe they actually prefer the calm, quiet, scratch-when-you-need-to life. Maybe fighting all the time is tiring.

And maybe I was projecting a little when I decided to spice things up.

Maybe because I haven't been physically able to box for several weeks now, and have instead been mall walking with the elderly (who are faster).

Simon came home from school that day and first thing, after asking how the mice ended up together (once, when a lid was left open, one was found on top of the other's cage), separated them.

They're back to sleeping and scratching.

I've taken up water exercise (with the elderly).

Maybe this is how it's supposed to be. At least for now.


Sunday, January 1, 2012

What Do You Know

The phrase has come up twice now: what you don't know. In March of 2010, in an effort to bridge the gap between the homeless and the housed, I asked the women of The Open Door what they'd say to those outside of the shelter if given the chance. What don't they know?

I never thought I'd be in this position.

People say, You don't look like you're homeless. What's homeless supposed to look like? Dirty?

Everybody gives money to Haiti; people get help if they're homeless because of an earthquake or tornado. But it doesn't matter how you became homeless. You're homeless, and you need help.

A guy I know hired me to clean his dad's house. He said, "Don't tell my dad you're homeless or he won't like you." Me and the dad got along great! We had a wonderful time. If I had told him... but it would still be me! I would be the same person as the one he liked.


You're not supposed to judge anybody. Some have more, others have less. You are definitely blessed if you have a home.


Some two and a half years later, I found myself using the same phrase with former prisoners. What you don't know was the only way I could help these men explain how their new lives of freedom were hindered by guilt, blame, deadend job hunts and housing restrictions.

You don't know the sense of complete separation and loneliness that is felt while inside, and at times is carried on once released.

I'm afraid.


I need others to know and believe I am sorry.


I am new. Come see.


This phrase could come in handy in this new year. Each of us has a back story, and what I don't know does indeed hurt me, or you, if my ignorance prevents us from connecting in a genuine way. My assumptions could carry a cost.

What you don't know about having a child with type 1 diabetes is that I count out goldfish crackers to a broken fin. I wonder, every morning, if Theo will wake up conscious. I worry I'll badly miscalculate a dose, or that Greg will, and that I'll be angry with him for something I could have just as easily done. I fear that my absent-minded boy won't grow out of his dreaminess, and will have trouble managing his disease on his own when he's older. What you don't know is that Greg and I have few dates because we haven't yet trained a sitter to give shots. And that diabetes is all day, every day, and it gets easier, but it's hard, very hard.

Your turn. Tell me: I want to know.

He is not here

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