30 minutes

OK, so I’ve been carrying around so much in my mind that it’s too much to write about. As if I were carrying several bags of groceries from the car to the house and couldn’t put any down because it’s taking all my balance and strength just to stay upright. But I’m tired. And I need to put some of this baggage down. So I’m going to write for 30 minutes without editing or censoring or whatever.

My little boy. He’s not so little, really; his feet are as big as mine. But he’s still under five-feet tall, still less than 80 lbs. Almost 11 years old and so brave about the diabetes. He checks his blood, he draws his insulin, he gives himself shots. I offer to help, not wanting so much burden to fall on him. He accepts, but rarely, prefering the sense of control the actions give him in this situation that we ultimately cannot control. That’s what really kills me. I can’t fix this.

Into our chaotic lives has come this new demand: tracking Nick’s carbs and blood sugar. It’s not the worst thing that could happen, but it’s a big one nonetheless. I am not organized enough. Actually, I’m a very organized person by nature – it’s my life that’s not, which explains the stacks of things around the house, the number of piles against the walls, the ever-lengthening and never-completed to-do list. Head full of ideas on how to do things, but the thoughts never quite manifest into accomplishments.

Nick is brave. And scared, although not overtly so. I notice, because I know him and I know the meanings behind the questions he asks. He’s devoured the books I bought him, books by Spike and Bo Nasmyth Loy, two brothers who were diagnosed with Type 1 at ages 7 and 6. Not everything about their lives carries over into ours – their mother was highly organized and effective, for example – but enough does that Nick has found a lot of comfort and information in the pages. When I read the mother’s companion book, “Real Life Parenting of Kids with Diabetes,” I was simultaneously relived and filled with despair. What do I do? How can I measure up to be the mother I need to be for Nick?

This whole thing has been almost enough to make me believe in a God. It would make sense – given my hubris about my kids’ health, my recent pre-diabetes epiphany that the kids were old enough that I could pursue more of my own goals – that God would painfully remind me of who is really in charge and where my duty really lies. This craving for some sort of explanation has made religion seem suddenly more plausible.

So many of my beliefs, from minor to fundamental, have been tweaked by this.

Regarding food, for example: I find myself buying diet soda, low-carb snacks. Granted, I go with the natural foods versions, but still, I’ve always considered anything “diet” disgusting, and sneered at those low-carb fads. I’m still against fake food, regardless of the form it’s in, but I’m buying Splenda by the box and perusing aisles in search of those low-carb snacks. Suddenly I’m in a world where, against all my beliefs, “diet” equals “good” and carbs equal “bad.” (It’s not that carbs are BAD exactly, but they do require an insulin shot, which is not exactly good.)

And then there’s the animal testing. In the book I bought Nick, one of the brothers describes how his family got involved with diabetes research by raising pigs on their ranch, then slaughtering them, donating the meat to neighbors and sending the pancreases to the lab. I happened to see that bit before Nick and warned him. I was worried he’d be really upset, loving pigs as he does, but he wasn’t sure how he felt. I’m not sure. I’m sure that I think animal testing is fundamentally wrong, but I’m just as sure that I’d do whatever it took to keep my kids alive and as healthy as possible regardless of extraneous moral concerns.

I’m really, really grateful we have insulin and all the other equipment that makes Nick’s diabetes something manageable. And that Medi-Cal covers it. I think of other kids, without resources, and what a horrible struggle they must be in. I worry about the future, what would happen if we found ourselves unable to get Nick’s insulin, what we would do. It’s terrifying.

I need to think about today. Groceries and recipes to make carb-counting easy. A snack to take the kids before K’s volleyball game.

That’s my 30 minutes.

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5 thoughts on “30 minutes”

  1. Thanks, Jack.It’s a trippy thing – and after Tuesday’s appointment, we now need to decide if we want to participate in medical studies. By “we,” I mainly mean Nick. None of my parent-related imaginings have included handing over my child to medical science. But that may be the best course of action. Or not. How does one decide?

  2. I would be inclined to participate. But of course, that should be entirely up to Nick. When my youngest grand daughter was about two she was diagnosed with a childhood cancer. Man, it wrenches your heart to see a loved one, especially a child, suffer. But all the folks involved with her treatments were so caring and supportive. And after a couple of years, and many tears, she was pronounced in remission and she seems to be without the cancer now. She is a healthy, happy child of eight.

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