The long rides on my bike to train for the JDRF Ride to Cure serve a multitude of purposes. Yes, I am getting better at riding and riding far (I clocked 54.1 miles in one ride yesterday. Whoa.) And yes, I’m learning to ride a bike with more style and confidence.
But more to the point is the time I have inside my own head while I ride. I tend to sway between song lyrics running through my head and meditation on things that I need to work on in my life. Sometimes, the two intersect.
Like yesterday when, out of nowhere, came some good old No Doubt lyrics.
And all the simple things are simply too complicated for my life.
Those lyrics got me thinking. I know we D-world people like to give off the aura that we can do it; that all is well; that with a few tweaks life just goes on. And really, it’s important that we think that way, and it’s vitally important that we raise our children with diabetes to think that way. The idea of raising a child to think just keeping them alive is beyond complicated and scary is just daff to me. Talk about setting up the therapy industry to thrive in a couple of decades, right?
And yet: there it is. With diabetes on board, sometimes (almost all the time) the simple things can seem simply too complicated for our lives (to paraphrase Gwen). In our house, we are 15 years into this, and I’m still learning that lesson: the lesson that “complications” of diabetes exist at every turn we take. No, not the scary kidney kind. I’m talking about the mind-boggling daily living kind that jump out at every corner and try to trip us up.
If you don’t have diabetes in your life, think about the things you manage on a daily basis. Let’s pick school lunch. Bring or buy? Baked chips or regular? That’s about all you ponder. In our D-lives it goes like this: Bring or buy? Carbs in the school meal? What if she does not eat it all? Stickers to mark the carbs in the brought-from-home meal? What is her carb ratio for that time of day? And then you say to your, oh, eight-year-old, something like this: “Okay well if you are in target range just do the straight 1 to 18 ratio for the entire meal. If you are high don’t forget to add the correction: 1 for every 30 points high. Add them both and then do it. If you are low, bolus but subtract for the low, same ratio as the high, right? Don’t worry, it’s written down. Oh, and if you don’t feel hungry please only do half and please remember the other half right after you eat and before recess. Okay?”
I’m not exaggerating. When my daughter started learning algebra in about third grade, she came home from school laughing. “Mom,” she said, waving her glucose meter at me, “I’ve been doing algebra since kindergarten!” And she was right.
How about the dreaded slumber parties? For non D-parents, you worry about if your child will be homesick or overtired the next day. D-parents have to create a full-on and unique for that day and night medical plan, one that includes some training for other parents, reminders to a little kid and more than a few check ins. Here I point out what for me has always been vital: this we must do. I never, ever wanted my child to feel that diabetes could hold her back, so I worked hard at making things seem normal. Well, kind of normal.
It’s truly that way with everything. Sports. Staying up later to watch a movie (did you know that can change your entire diabetes plan for a day or two?) Cold days. Hot days. Sick days. The prom. It goes on and on and on. Every simple thing can seem too complicated. Note I inserted the word “Seem” into Gwen’s lyrics. Because while everything is complicated, again, it’s just our job to make it work; to show our kids who to fend off these complications in their lives. There is no other option that will bring a child successfully to a happy life as an adult with diabetes. That was my vow all these years for my daughter.
And now, here she is turning 21. One would think that the lyrics would no longer hold a place in our D-lives. But it does.
Complicated now is how to maneuver my daughter becoming an adult; truly an adult on her own, with diabetes on board. Lauren hates it when I say “did you check,” or “did you bolus.” But when she’s sitting next to me eating (or even just sitting sometimes), the powerful force of habit, and caring, sometimes overwhelm me. I’ve even caught myself asking her boyfriend to ask her for me. (Must stop using kind boyfriend for my own selfish needs. Must stop immediately). Yesterday, at our beach club, she bit into a lovely Caesar salad wrap as I reclined on a lounge chair next to her. In my head were the words “Did you bolus? Did you bolus? Did you bolus? What’s your number? Have you checked.” But I bit down on my lip and willed myself to not say a single word.
Lauren looked over at me and shook her head. “Yeah, Mom: I bolused. And stop asking.”
“Lauren! I didn’t ask!” I shot back.
“Oh Mom,” she sighed. “I can feel you asking.”