Friday, September 24, 2010

Cry it Out

As I sat rocking my little Sweetie one afternoon last week, enjoying a quiet hour of cuddling as she melted in my arms for an afternoon nap, I heard a familiar sound. The insulin pod on my back was squealing insistently, letting me know my insulin delivery had stopped. It meant an abrupt end to her sweet sleep and I have to admit that I was a little resentful.

My husband and I have often discussed how diabetes may or may not have affected who I am today. He declares it one way. I, resentful, declare it another. I assert that I would still be me without this burden, this tedium, this insistent voice squealing from my back or beep-beeping from my continuous glucose monitor.

But as I woke my precious child to deal with the issue of the moment, Dan Hurley's words from Diabetes Rising came to mind:

"Diabetes is a child that you can't make stop crying. In the beginning you can rock it, you can pat it, you can change its diaper, you can feed it. But after a while, when you haven't had any sleep and it's still crying, you're ready to call it quits...It's a fight you sometimes feel like fighting, and sometimes you don't."
And I have to wonder how diabetes prepared me for motherhood.

Yesterday afternoon, in the car, I found myself annoyed that my little Sweetie would NOT stop crying.  If you're a mom, you've been there. You just need a moment of silence to get it together. But the crying didn't stop long enough for me to focus. So over the noise, I glanced at the clock, saw that somehow naptime and feeding time had converged on NOW. And she hadn't had her usual dirty diaper in nearly 48 hours. And her teeth were hurting. So I pulled off the road. I nursed her, at her pace, for half an hour. I changed the diaper that finally came. I rubbed her little gums with medication. And she passed out blissfully for an hour and a half in her carseat, which meant I parked outside the house for an extra hour listening to NPR so she could finish the nap she needed.

Diabetes is like that.

It's never one thing. It's the new pump set you put on at 5:30 that that might have delayed absorption, the Austrian spaztle you had no idea how to carb count for at dinner, the extra helping of sugar free cake you forgot to account for afterward, the fat and the protein conversion to glucose from the bratwurst finally catching up to you. And you sit there for an hour or so annoyed that you feel like crap, but too busy living your life to go test to get a number...and the number comes up and it's 404 mg/dL. And you wonder if you're going to get any sleep tonight. But, like a mother, you sigh and you commit yourself to it, even though it's still crying. And you go get a syringe and a new bottle of insulin. And you wash your hands and check again. And you check on it every so often to make sure it's coming down. And you stay up with it when you'd really like to lie down. And you get back up with it when you hit 50 mg/dL the next morning and drink your apple juice like a good girl.

It's no wonder I'm against the "cry it out" method of parenting. It never works for diabetes. Ignoring it doesn't do anyone any good in the long run. I tried that. I let it cry for many, many...many years. And like we attachment parenters so often say, you become desensitized to the child's cry, but they don't need your attention any less.  I think I needed that reminder today.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Our Sweetest Songs...

I was singing my little Sweetie to sleep the other night and it caught me how appropriate my lullaby of choice is. Almost every night since her birth, I have softly sung James Taylor's "You Can Close Your Eyes" as I snuggled her off to sleep.

I love me some James Taylor. My best friend is to thank for that. The summer I graduated from college, we drove to New Mexico and I remember listening to James in my dad's pickup as she and I cruised along the edges of the Sangre de Cristo mountains. James Taylor is peace and mellow personified.

Then, during the 2004 election season, she and I drove all the way to St. Louis, Missouri (our closest swing state) to see James perform with the Dixie Chicks in a protest concert.

There's 'something in the way' he croons. Puts me at ease. Focuses my perspective. 'Seems to leave this troubled world behind.'  Case in point:

Anyway, singing this particular tune is a way to share that special significance with her - a little part of my musical and political tastes - but there's one more layer, too, and it's hard for me to voice out loud.

The chorus says:

"So, close your eyes. You can close your eyes; it's alright.
I don't know no love songs, and I can't sing the blues anymore.
But I can sing this song. And you can sing this song when I'm gone."

When I'm gone.

Yeah. [uncomfortable silence] The diabetes thing. The mortality thing. 20 years in already with a chronic illness that will likely have something to do with my eventual exit.

I'm not normally one to get freaked. I knew having a child would make me more aware of fragility - mine and hers. I knew that. I'm the realist in the family when it comes to death (said my uncle before he died). And I have no illusions about an afterlife, honestly - a big kumbahya where we can all join hands around a holy campfire and drink cocoa with the friends and family who behaved well enough in life to get there.

When I'm gone...I'm gone.

Part of that belief has never bothered me. I mean, yeah sure, I don't WANT to go. I find life to be pretty awesome. The whole thing - the pain, the humanity, the creative spirit, Amazon free shipping. But I'd always just assumed I'd go earlier than other non-diabetic friends and family and that that would be the end of it.

But I have HER now. And my time with her is only just beginning. And I'd be pissed to have to leave now.

When I'm gone...will she remember me? The sound of my singing to her? The "I'm gonna get you" game or the way I call her "Boo Boo" for no particular reason?

Is it macabre that I make videos of myself singing Itsy Bitsy Spider and other favorite songs for the express purpose of archiving my voice for her in such an event?


But I sing her this song because it expresses exactly what I want to tell her. That this old world will still be spinning 'round. That it won't be long before another day. That no one's gonna take that time away. And that I still love her.

So she can safely close her eyes. She can close her eyes; its alright. I'm going to keep singing this love song. And I hope she will sing this song know.

"Our sweetest songs are those of saddest thought."
---Percy Bysshe Shelley

Saturday, September 11, 2010

A Diabetes Meme

Special thanks to Kerri at Six Until Me for this meme.

What type of diabetes do you have: Type 1

When were you diagnosed: July 3, 1990 in DKA coma, BG over 1000

What's your current blood sugar:  78 mg/dL.  Last night sucked though.  I was up at 4am vomiting with a 361, then rebounded low to 64 by morning, then shot upward from dawn phenomenon combined with granola bar to 221...  A day in the life of a T1D.

What kind of meter do you use:  Omnipod PDM & Freestyle Navigator CGMS

How many times a day do you test your blood sugar: 5-8 times per day lately.  I don't bolus without a fingerstick number.

What's a "high" number for you:  Anything over 150 mg/dl. (Boy, how that has changed.  Used to be anything over 300.)

What's do you consider "low":  Anything under 70 mg/dl.

What's your favorite low blood sugar reaction treater:  Anything contraband.  But usually 15-20 grams of granola bar, rice krispie treat, or apple juice.  Strawberry Dex-4 glucose tabs are my go-to g-tab.

Describe your dream endo:  Love mine.  But would also love a unicorn endo.  Then he could sprinkle my charts with rainbow dust and cure me with his magic horn.  And I don't think a unicorn would ever use the word "non-compliant."  Barring that, I'd say my dream endo would be compassionate, realistic, up-to-date, and FREE.

What's your biggest diabetes achievement:  I have two.  One is my beautiful daughter.  The other is finding control and near-normal glycemic control after over 15 years of roller coastering.  Don't know how I'm still alive.

What's your biggest diabetes-related fear:  I don't fear dealing with the complications so much, though eyes and heart are scary and I try not to dwell on those thoughts.  But I just don't want an early death.  I don't want the label "died from complications due to diabetes."  It clouds what the rest of your life was about.

Who's on your support team:  the Hubs, my CDE, my endo, the TuD admins (past and present), my mom

Do you think there will be a cure in your lifetime:  No.  Never have.  I appreciate that my pediatric endo told me that he thought it a pipe dream.  At 10, I was able to rather happily accept that and move forward.

What is a "cure" to you:  I'd be happy with faster insulin, more accurate and responsive cgms, and staved off complications.

The most annoying thing people say to you about your diabetes is: Are you going to pass it to your kids?

What is the most common misconception about diabetes:  That my type 1 diabetes can be controlled with anything other than an intensive insulin regimen.  Or that it's the same disease their uncle got "cured" of when he changed his habits.

If you could say one thing to your pancreas, what would it be: "You're a waste of space."

Friday, September 10, 2010

The Sweetest Sound

My little Sweetie said it, keeps saying it, stretches her arms and yells it, smiling.


She said it first yesterday when I came in to the room where I left her napping.  The cynic in me said it was a meaningless babble at 7 months.  The mama in me high-5ed herself.  I played it off casually to the Hubs when he came in, but I knew it was the genuine article.

All parents anxiously await and savor that first moment of recognition.  That first moment where the little monster says, "Hey, you there, with the stroller.  You belong to me. And I have a name for you."

For me, there was an added element. Just as I was hung up wondering what she'd look like during her nine months of comfortable obscurity inside me, I've been waiting the last seven wondering what she'd sound like.

As a singer and voice teacher, it's been at the forefront of my mind. She sits on my hip listening to me dole out tips for projection or support to my singers, listening to me blast A-flats six inches from her face... At what point would she grasp that she has her own voice? And how will she wield that power?

It was better than I'd hoped for.  It had all of her little personality's joy and humor in it.  She seemed so proud of herself, babbling it repeatedly, relishing her newfound verbal acrobatics. But calling it straight to me, hoping to be understood, grinning because she knew she nailed it.

In a word, awesome.

And that word has become her new tool today.  Peering around friends to find me and label me. Mama. Staring up at me during a diaper change. Mama.  Lying down for a nap with me. Mama.

She's sleeping contentedly wrapped around one of my arms as I type this, her happy little voice on standby. But it was indeed the sweetest thing I've ever heard.

Until she says Dada, that is. ;)

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Sweetly Voiced

My name is Melissa Lee and my blog is Sweetly Voiced.

I'm a Type 1 Diabetic since childhood (see continuous glucose monitoring sensor attached to arm) and am Lead Admin for TuDiabetes - a social network for people touched by diabetes.  I've also been a professional singer and private voice instructor for the last 10 years.  And I'm a new mommy - a battle with blood sugars and high A1c that is, to date, my biggest triumph.  (One look at my little Sweetie's face and you'll see that it was all worth it.)

As a writer and singer, I've always had a clear and unique voice.  Don't know how I'll come across as a blogger - I've been struggling for a long time with the idea of laying it all out here.  I'm loud and ostentatious - not always sweet - but this will be my attempt to sprinkle the blogosphere with my own crazy brand of sugar.

My posts will no doubt be sporadic and erratic - bananas in my hair, prying my insulin pump from her ever-exploring fingers, juggling aspiring teen pop stars in my never-clean house.

We'll have a good time though.  Just follow the sound of my voice.