“So, Mom: You write about the rough days. Are you going to write about this good day?”
Abso-freakin-lutely, Lauren. Abso-freakin-lutely.
Yesterday was Lauren’s endo appointment, her first one since going to “Diabetes Rehab” (her name for it, not mine!) last August. Because she’s far away in college, it’s not easy to schedule endo appointments.
And she was stressed out leading up to it. “Mom. You won’t let them send me to a mental hospital, right?” To which I said, “Lauren! Where would you even get that idea?” “Oh, I dreamt it last night.” So yeah, she was a bit on edge.
I myself was practicing my “Keep your mouth shut” strategy I’d learned at said Diabetes Rehab. (If you know me, you know how incredibly difficult that is. Moira with her mouth shut? Crazy.) But I’ve really been trying to “pass the baton” to Lauren; good, bad or indifferent. (To which she will point out here she still has to remind me not to be a nag when she’s home from college. Or when I’m on the phone with her at college. Or when I’m facebook messaging her. And so on.)
So we got up early to head into Boston. I’d seen on the news that there was a giant crash on the highway, so we knew it was going to take some time (almost two hours!) to get there. We chatted on the way, avoiding the elephant in the car.
What would her a1c be? Because I’m really, really, really sincere when I say that I’m trying like all heck to NOT make life all about a number. But at the same time, if hers ever came in at a “acceptable to the diabetes public” level, I’d do somersaults down the hallway at Joslin. And trust me – they don’t keep those floors that clean. But I’d still do it.
That Lauren struggled through the teen years is no secret. She testified before Congress about it when she was 13. I wrote a well-circulated guest blog about it when she was 16 or 17. I’ve always told her to be open about it and not be ashamed of it. I truly believe a majority of teens who have had diabetes for a good amount of time struggle the same way. And taking the shame away from it would help people. She was willing to be “out there about it” and even guest blogged here about it last summer.
Before she left for college, an
idiot endocrinologist sent me a note telling me I could not let her go away to college with her lack of good care. I decided to go with my gut and let her go, knowing I wanted her to live her life for better or worse. Lauren, who also was sent the note, decided she needed an adult endo. We moved to Dr. Wonderful Wolpert, and from the get-go, I could tell this was a wise choice (that my daughter led the way on).
A year ago, still struggling with care while at a college, she made an announcement to me: she was going on shots. After being the first young kid in Boston on a pump. After me being the “pro-pump mom” all over the place. I cringed. But she told me she just felt deep down she “had to do it.” And since I was working at respecting her decisions as an adult, I just nodded and said ‘Totally your choice. I support you.”
So there’s the background. As I sat outside waiting (I don’t go into her appointments anymore), I thought about the rehab. I thought about the shots. Since Lauren lives 500 miles away from me, I really don’t know how she’s doing. I tried to think positively. She had rocked her grades this semester. She is in her first grown up relationship with a really nice guy. She’s happy. That’s what I want. She’s happy.
So when she came out, she said, “They didn’t bring my a1c back yet. He asked if I wanted to wait and I told him to just email me when he gets it.” (Her endo does have finger stick a1cs but since the drawn ones are more precise her endo wanted one of those this day).
We headed over to the Pru for some upscale window-shopping and later, a lunch. Lauren was in Free People and I had ducked into the ladies room when my phone buzzed. I washed my hands and clicked on the incoming email.
It was Lauren’s a1c. And for the first time in perhaps six years, it was in “acceptable to the diabetes public” range. (Okay, maybe not all the public, but the reasonable, rational public). I jumped up and down and up and down and RAN to Free People. Since we are a family of jokesters and I could not miss a chance, I walked in with a sour face (soooo hard to fake!) and said, sternly, “Lauren. Have you checked your email?’ She looked at me, worried and said ‘Nooooo.” I said, “Well, he sent your a1c.” (Sooooo hard to keep that straight face!) I held my phone up to her so she could read it. She SCREAMED. I burst into tears. We were standing in the middle of Free People, jumping up and down and hugging.
Victory. Sweet diabetes victory.
I noticed the store across the way and said to Lauren “Hey! Vineyard Vines! How about a celebratory shopping spree?” We ran over. I asked the salesman for tissues, explaining that my tears and my dripping Bobbi Brown make up (thanks fellow D-Mom and friend Shannon Allen for turning me on to it!) was the result of “Happy tears.”
As Lauren shopped, he politely asked me if I wanted to explain.
How to explain?
How do you explain that your child is now a young adult; a young adult who took a difficult situation by the tail and worked it out? How to explain that – in an instant – you realized that all the years and years of education you’d tried to layer onto your child had seeped in? How to explain the joy of seeing your child thrive? Conquer? How to explain that sometimes, you just plain win? How to explain that, this day, you know that diabetes does not always rule everything and that your risky move as a mom to let her live her life was paying off despite diabetes?
“Well,” I said, not wanting to share too much, “She’s had Type 1 diabetes since she was a really small child, and today, she kind of took back ‘winning’ from Charlie Sheen on it. Her labs were wonderful and our life is good.”
He smiled, and as he rang up her goodies, he reached back and grabbed some Vineyard Vine’s swag and dropped it in her bag. “On the house,” he said, “because this is a great day.”
So look. I know it’s not all teddy bears and fairies from here on it. I know there will be more difficult times and I know a1cs and other labs go up and down.
But more to the point, I know this: We survived the teen years. Sure, we argued. I worried. I begged. She lied. We debated. But at the same time, we made it through as a team. Lauren is a wonderful daughter and we have a great relationship. I’m her mom so of course I’m going to say she’s exceptional – but she is. She’s always been so honest about her diabetes struggles. She’s always been so willing to help and share (she’s meeting with a young girl with Type 1 this afternoon, as a matter of fact). And in the end, she took what she’s learned all these years and make it work in life.
She deserved that swag. She deserves the world.
Today is a very good day.
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