D-Mom Action Figure: Master of the ER

January 29, 2012By 8 Comments

(A note to my faithful readers: I apologize for the time between posts at this time of year. In my “real life” I work as a ski and adventure writer [poor me] and I travel quite a bit. I hope you understand, and see it as a example of not letting diabetes stop you from living your life. Come spring, I’ll be tired of my turtlenecks and back to more frequent posts.)

 The post showed up on my facebook wall last night. And even though it had not an italic or bold face word, I could hear the emotion through it.

“waaah being sick is the worst when i dont have you around to take care of me:(“

It was my daughter with diabetes, who, 500 miles away in college, had just suffered through a pretty rough bought of stomach bug. While she’s been at college for almost two years now, this was the first time she was really sick, down-and-dirty-should-we-call-the-ER-sick down there and without me around.

And it scared her. Mind you, I was on the phone with her constantly, monitoring blood sugars, making suggestions, urging her to take tiny sips of carb rich drinks and time how long she could hold them down.

And we got through it. But it got me thinking: how does an adult with Type 1 go it alone? I mean: I know I’m always going to be there for Lauren. She asked me once, before heading off to college, what I would do if she had to go to the ER. “I’d hop a flight,” I promised her without hesitation. “The shuttles to DC run all the time. I can be there in almost no time.”

Because I’ve always kind of been the Alpha Mom when it came to her and sickness. Lauren went through a phase when she was little when stomach bugs tried to ruin our lives. I am almost not kidding when I say that if someone drove past our house with a stomach bug, Lauren would catch it. And almost immediately get dehydrated, low and have super large ketones on top of it all. Not even purple; I’m talking black on the strip. The first time it happened, it scared the bejesus out of me. But after a few times I began to realize: I had to make these hospital trips not a big deal, as streamlined a possible and really, just another “inconvenience” of diabetes.

Lauren at 14 -- we were always relieved when a bug didn't come on a special day -- like Homecoming

I know, I know. It sounds cold; even harsh to talk about a child’s hospitalization as a mere “inconvenience.” But really, if I freaked out every time she had to go in, she’d be a mess and I’d be on meds. And truly, all she really needed was a series of IV’s to balance the intake of fluids, carbs and insulin. Heck, if I could do IV’s at home, I probably could take care of it without medical help. (I suggested that to Lauren once and she was horrified. “Mom, I don’t even have you do my site changes. You think I’m letting you near me with an IV?” My tiny girl guffawed. Point taken.)

So it got to be a routine. We’d watch the trend and wait for as long as we could. But when my “mom gut” said go, we’d go. Instead of waiting for an endo to suggest it, I’d tell them point blank what she needed, and then head to Children’s to get it. One year—when she was in fourth grade – we did something like six trips to the hospital. We knew our way to Boston Children’s on instinct. We joked about playing “Candy Land” once we settled in. Sometimes, we could even predict it happening a day before (like the day the stupid idiot mom brought her puking child to the dance recital because she “didn’t want her to miss it.” Really? I should have sent her the ER bill. Or the time a mom still held a birthday party with a sick kid without telling me because it “would have been mean to postpone it.” Yeah, that ended in an ER trip for us too. But I digress). We just did what we had to do. While it could have been beyond horrid, we did our best to just go with it. Time after time after time.

Thankfully, she outgrew what her medical team liked to call her “glass stomach.” But this day, as I helped her over the phone, I realized she was a little bit afraid to face those kind of things without me.

But here’s the nice part: in the background and by her side the entire time was her boyfriend Nick. Nick was frightened; he is learning about Type 1 but does not know everything yet. The two of them needed me to say what to do and to pull the “time for the ER trigger” if need be. But still – he was there. She told me the next morning he confessed – after she recovered – to being worried and confused. Just like anyone new to caring about someone would be, right? That gives me hope that Nick – or whomever Lauren is with – will want to learn all I have learned. Please, let that be. But, I want them to always count on me too.

Lauren and Nick -- no stomach bugs this day!

Ironically, a week before as we drove to a wedding, I was talking about Lauren’s life and future. I told her that years and years from now, when and if she has a child, I hoped to be in the delivery room. My reason? Thanks to one really fast birth and one surprise C-section, I’d somehow managed to have two children without ever actually seeing one born. Lauren’s response was quick: “No way!”

But then, a few moments later, she started backing off on that.

“You know,” she said, “I’m going to be pretty busy that day and might not be able to have my mind on all the diabetes stuff. Hmmm….. maybe I should let you be there.

“Because, Mom: No one bosses around doctors like you do!”

And there it was, another silver lining. My ER prowess would pay off one day way down the road when I get to see my grandchild born. Fair trade.

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Comments (8)

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  1. Love this post Moira! It certainly helps demonstrate that even the worst of times can have a silver lining.

  2. Kim savage says:

    Always so spot-on when u describe the relentless vigilance that changes d-moms, and shapes our relationships w/our amazing kids. Cheers, Moira! Here’s to a bug-free 2012…

  3. Sara says:

    I was not diagnosed until I was 21 and I still think the decision about when to go to the ER is one of the most confusing things about having diabetes. I think we all need a “mom” to pull the trigger at that point.

  4. Robyn Morgen says:

    When Hunter broke his neck last week, so many interesteing things occurred. When they gave him childrens Motrin before he could swallow a pill I asked, how much sugar or carbs in that, nurse replied I have never been asked that before…REALLY, well there was 1600mg per spoon and she had given him 6…okay well MRI with insulin pump, they did not have a clue,,
    thne they saiid wow you really are very medically savvy,,,,,the reward of being a D mom….

  5. Dawn says:

    I remember laying in bed with my very, very sick newly diagnosed (only 41 days) diabetic daughter and wondering if I should take her to the ER. I wondered how I would be treated if I had taken her in the ER and it was unnecessary, ((“that crazy mom is such a hypochondriac”)) or I wondered what would happen if I didn’t take her. I have never felt so alone and helpless. I never did sleep that night, I laid with my hand on her back in the dark listening to and feeling her breathe. I never did take her to the hospital (but we went to the Dr in the AM). Being a D-Mom is hard, being a new D-Mom is even harder, and I thank God I’m not there anymore.

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