Here we are, another night interrupted because a blood sugar check went awry. And pained as I am to be awake, again, at an hour I’d choose to be asleep, at least this alertness isn’t the result of a low reading, the way last night was. I’d checked Nick a bit past midnight to find he’d dropped to 43, far below the minimum of 70. Two dose of juice and a half hour later, he’d finally come up to the safe range. Bobby made him some toast and we went back to bed, if not back to sleep.
In a way, I expected that low. After all, I’d freaked out earlier after reading a statistic — something JDRF put together for World Diabetes Day — that 1 out of 20 diabetics die of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). The rest of the day I spun that fact around in my mind, dizzy from the shock and stunned I’d never heard it before.
I keep up on the latest in diabetes-related medical advances with Google News alerts. I follow A Sweet Life, “the source for the healthy diabetic.” What I see reflects strides toward a potential cure, technology to help in the meantime and a reinforcement of the idea that Type 1 is a manageable disease that doesn’t have to keep a person from living a normal, active, adventurous life. Hope-providing stuff. The opposite of an ad intoning a dramatic risk increase of my child dying.
All I could think of were the ways in which we need to improve our vigilance — and then despair at how we’re supposed to exert greater control over a teenager restless for more freedom. How I am supposed to launch him out into the world trusting him to manage his diabetes (which he does and mostly does quite well) and how am I to support his utterly reasonable choice to not be defined by this disease while at the same time I’m terrified of what could go wrong?
I realize that statistic doesn’t have context around it — I don’t know if those people who die of hypoglycemia are older, sicker, lacking health care, unable or unwilling to manage their diabetes as well as we are. Nonetheless, it hit me like the proverbial punch in the gut, that reminder that life is fragile and the world large, and much within it threatens those I love the most. Car crashes, freak accidents, psychopaths, natural disasters — I have read enough, seen enough to conjure up scenarios without effort, try as I do to hold the thoughts at bay.
Regarding Nick, we have an extra, very specific fear to add to the list. In all cases, as parents, we’re also obligated to curtail these worries, to keep them to ourselves — after all, beauty, wonder and adventure also await and so we must swallow our terror, do what we can, then launch them out with confidence and some desperate trust that all will be well.
But in these hours, wind whipping through trees outside matching the restlessness of my mind, nothing can be kept at bay.