Monday, December 21, 2009

Blogging Mamas!

Here we are, the West Valley T1 support group bloggers, at the annual Christmas party.  If you haven't already, please visit:

Leigh - My Two Monkeys
Kelly - Chasing Numbers
Tracy - The Ripley Mommy
Wendy - Candy Hearts

We all blog about life in general, life as a mom/wife/pancreas, and how life with diabetes affects us very different ways, yet with a common thread running through it all.  I'm ever so thankful to have my support group and blogging mama friends to keep me (mostly) sane!

Thanks, Wendy, for the camera is still being most uncooperative. :P~~~~~~~, camera!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Christmas party

Last night, our diabetes support group got together for our 2nd annual holiday party, at Santa's Winter Home in Arizona.  Thanks to the Musils, who have the most beautifully decorated holiday house EVER!  We even had a special visit from the Jolly Ol' Elf himself, who came in and delivered gifts to all the deserving little people (and not so little people, too).

(imagine a cute little picture here - when I can get my camera running I'll put one in)

It's always wonderful to get together with other families who live with Type 1 every day.  We speak a common language, that of infusion sets and basal rates and carb counts.  "Why is she HIGH?" has an entirely different meaning in our little corner of the world, and when you ask that question to a d-parent, no one gives you the look that says, "I'm calling CPS and the police department as soon as she turns her back". 

In related news, I got Missy Miss to wear a Navigator sensor again - Happy Holidays to me! The kids are going off to Grandma and Grandpa's house while I take the Dear Husband to have his gallbladder removed and he recuperates for a couple of days.  G & G are great at helping her, but I want her to start taking some baby steps towards responsibility of her care when she is on her own.  Hopefully having the Navigator on will help her to manage her numbers a little more without the constant need for finger poking (which she isn't great at remembering to do if a parental person isn't around).   I do so love the Navigator and its constant stream of information....

We at Casa de Rambling wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a healthy New Year full of blessings!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

It's the most wonderful time.....

How can it be mid-December already?  Wasn't it Labor Day just a minute ago?

My mother always told me that as I got older, time would seem to go faster.  Once again, she was right.....I wish she were here for me to tell her that in person.  I know she is watching and LAUGHING her head off at me.....I thought I was so smart.  Now I look at my own daughter and wonder if she will look back some day and realize I'm not quite the brainless lump she takes me to be.  I sure hope so.

We here at Chez Rambling are not quite into the swing of the holidays yet.  Tree not up, no lights outside, not much done in the way of gifts.  I have an enormous list of fabulous CWD friends to send cards to, and I promise that I REALLY, REALLY will send them.....just as soon as I get the photos taken to have them made. Eep, I had better get moving!

Many thanks to friends Kelly  and Joanne for the Circle of Friends award!  This comes with 2 conditions:
Tell five things you love and pass it on to five more friends.  So, here we go....

1.  My husband -  Yes, you may give me the "Thank you, Captain Obvious" award to go along with this one.  I've known him longer than I haven't.  He's been by my side through just about every major event in my life and hasn't run screaming away yet.  He's patient and kind and puts up with me no matter what, and he's a great dad to Missy Miss and Mister Boychild.  Is he perfect?  Well, he's perfect for me. :)

2.  My kids - I know, the second most obvious answer. Despite impending teenagerhood and the perils of puberty, and despite threats to the contrary, I wouldn't trade them for anything.  They make me laugh, they exasperate me, and they keep me off balance 99% of the time.  Which is probably really, really good for me, even when I don't appreciate it during the moment.

3.  My job - Some days I wonder how in the world I'll get through, and some days I have to drag myself there. But I can't imagine doing anything else.....when I finally make that breakthrough with a tough kid or someone finds a reason to be proud of him/herself and the smile lights up the classroom, I know that I am doing what I was meant to do.  Would I like a bigger paycheck? Well, duh! But sometimes the pay doesn't show up in the bank account, but in the heart.  Added bonus - FABULOUS coworkers who keep me laughing, keep me on my toes, and keep me sane in the staff meetings!

4.  Insulin - another "Captain Obvious" sentiment to be sure.  If it weren't for insulin having been discovered by Banting and Best and crew, I wouldn't have a daughter to make me crazy any more. Some days I hate diabetes more than others (it is NEVER my favorite thing) , but every day I remind myself to be grateful for that which keeps her alive.

5.  The members of the DOC - The Diabetes Online Community.  I truly believe that if I hadn't found the CWD site I would have lost what remaining sanity I have. From there, it branched off into mailing lists, blogs, the formation of our local support group, and our traveling to events in California and Florida.  Most of my local d-mom friends either blog or post on lists that I frequent, and I have virtual friends all across the US and Canada (and a few farther-flung than that).  I've learned so much from and gotten support from those who have already walked this path and from those who are following in the steps we've left behind us.  Being a parent of a child with diabetes is frustrating, frightening and challenging but the DOC (local and virtual) is the family that keeps me propped up and going when I need help. 

Now, to pass it on to five friends!  OK, four friends.

Kat, who I've known since we were in grade school and who updates her blog less than I do...if that's even possible :)
Michelle,  a CWD mom that I've had the pleasure of meeting in person....she is an extraordinary writer on top of all the other hats she wears
Major Bedhead, whose blog was one of the first I found when I looking for d-blogs and who inspires me to keep on keeping on.  I'm sure she's received this already but I'm sending it to her again.
Splendidly Imperfect Miss M, who I met many moons ago as a teen-aged one-on-one aide to a student and who has become a married-college graduate-mom-super crafter extraordinaire!

I think everyone else I know who blogs has been tagged already.  If you haven't, consider yourself awarded and let us see your list!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

You want diabetes factoids? I got diabetes factoids....

In honor of World Diabetes Day, I am pleased to present you with Alissa's diabetes factoids.  She wrote each of these to post on her Facebook status to help spread awareness about Type 1 diabetes.  You rock, A! :)


26 Diabetes Factoids

by Alissa (ah-LEE-sah) Levenberg, D mom extraordinaire
(in reverse alphabetical order by last word)
(… because Melinda challenged her to, and because it’s more fun that way)
Z  #1: Type 1 (aka Juvenile or Insulin Dependent) diabetes is caused by an immune system misfire. The body attacks the cells that make insulin, leaving one 100% dependent on external insulin administration in order to stay alive. A Type 1 diabetic produces no insulin at all; zero, zilch, zippo.
Y #2: The cells that make insulin are called Beta Cells and live in things called "Islets" which are located in the pancreas. Once the immune system has begun the attack on the beta cells, there is absolutely nothing that can stop it. Yet.
X #3: Cutting edge research has allowed scientists to breed mice with fluorescent T-cells (immune system cells). This makes it possible to understand the process of autoimmunity by observing the life cycles and structures of these cells using MRI and X-rays.
W #4: The vast majority of people who have “diabetes” have Type 2, so people tend to think of Type 2 when they think of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes accounts for 5-10% of all cases and is linked to genetics rather than lifestyle. Annually, 70,000 children (almost 200 children a day) develop Type 1 diabetes worldwide.
V #5: The complications from Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes are the same. High blood sugars cause damage to delicate blood vessels and can lead to heart and kidney problems, neuropathy of the hands and feet, or loss of vision.
U #6: The hormone insulin is responsible for bringing glucose (sugar) from the bloodstream to the body’s cells. All cells require glucose for energy, but if there is no insulin present, sugar just builds up in the bloodstream and can’t be used.
T #7: When not enough insulin is present, cells begin to starve and start burning fat in order to survive. This creates a byproduct called “ketones” and causes dehydration, acidic body chemistry, and can quickly lead to coma or death if not aggressively treated.
S #8: Injectable insulin first became available in 1922, allowing people to live many years after diagnosis. It was very slow acting however, so people with Type 1 diabetes had to rigorously control their diets and severely restrict their intake of simple sugars.
R #9: Until recently, the only way to take insulin was via multiple daily injections. New technologies have produced pager sized insulin pumps that are worn externally and deliver insulin through a catheter. Insulin pumps cannot yet “control blood sugar” as many news stories falsely report.
Q #10: All carbohydrates produce a rise in blood sugar, regardless of whether they have actual sugar in them. “Sugar free” items still have carbs. Also, the high fat content of foods like regular ice cream or chocolate will prevent sugars from entering the bloodstream too quickly.
P #11: Many families who live with this disease will report that nothing quite tops having people suggest their kids try some diet, exercise, or herbal supplement “cure diabetes” scheme as their biggest pet peeve.
O #12: Once you inject or infuse insulin with a syringe or pump, there is no way to take it back. That is why there is such a high frequency of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). With a functioning pancreas, when blood sugar levels start to drop, the insulin gets automatically turned OFF.
N #13: Nocturnal hypoglycemia (night time low blood sugar) is one of the most frightening aspects of Type 1 diabetes. When a person is sleeping, they may not feel lows and it is possible to die in one’s sleep (DIB = Dead In Bed). Many parents of Type 1 children get up and check their sugar several times every night.
M #14: Every time a person with diabetes eats, they must calculate: How many carbs is that? What is my current ratio of insulin to carbohydrates? Do I have any active insulin still in my system? etc… This never ending pre-meal exercise leads to the saying: What do diabetics have as an appetizer? Math.
L #15: It is very important to make sure that children with diabetes get to be “kids first”. People often express worry about these kids having occasional sugary treats but they need to understand that a) sugar is not the biggest challenge when it comes to messing up blood sugars, and b) you have to make sure you don’t let diabetes take over their lives.
K #16: Illness is one of the top challenges when living with diabetes. Blood sugars spike quickly, “ketones” develop, and the body becomes highly insulin resistant. Often it is necessary to get emergency medical treatment to deal with DKA: Diabetic Ketoacidosis.
J #17: Just about everything can affect blood sugar levels. Trying to balance insulin dosing, exercise, food, sickness, hormones, growth spurts, schedule changes, weather changes, stress, pump failures and (seemingly) the current location of Jupiter requires the full time skills of an expert juggler.
I #18: Hypoglycemia is when there is too little sugar (glucose) in the bloodstream. Since the brain needs a constant source of glucose in order to function, the result of a severe low blood sugar is a seizure. Brain damage and death can occur if the low blood sugar is not treated immediately.
H #19: The normal average range for blood sugars in a person without diabetes is 70-120 (or post meals, 140). Having a blood sugar above range is called HYPERglycemia, while having blood sugars below range is called HYPOglycemia.
G #20: The liver stores “backup” glucose in the form of “glycogen”. Between meals and during extended exercise, the liver will release part of this store in order to keep blood sugars from going low. The hormone that triggers this release is called Glucagon.
F #21: People with Type 1 diabetes should always be carrying an Emergency Glucagon Kit to be used in the case of seizure or severe low blood sugar. This shot will trigger the liver to release its store of glycogen. Here ( ) is where pictures of the kit can be found.
E #22: Continuous Glucose Monitoring Systems are among the most exciting new technologies. In current systems, a tiny wire or probe is inserted under the skin that reads “interstitial” (fluid that is found between the cells) glucose levels. This gets calibrated to actual blood glucose levels. When blood sugars go too low or high, a receiver device will sound an alarm. I have one word for this: Excellent.
D #23: Symptoms of Type 1 diabetes include: frequent urination, excessive thirst, fatigue, rapid weight loss, fruity smelling breath, sweating, blurred vision, nausea or vomiting, and rapid breathing. Tragically, many children die each year from the unrecognized onset of Type 1 diabetes.
C #24: There is nothing a person with Type 1 diabetes can’t do. From Miss America to Mr. Universe, from professional bicycle racers, to Iditarod mushers, to climbers of Mr. Everest, there are examples everywhere of people who rejected “you can’t” and instead figured out what they needed to do to prove that “you can”.
B #25: Insulin pumps greatly facilitate diabetes management. Instead of injecting multiple daily shots, the user can deliver constant micro doses throughout the day. When they eat or need to correct a high blood sugar, their pump calculates the proper dosage. Only about half the total daily dose of insulin covers food. The other half is just for the steady background infusion, called the “Basal”. The one-time doses to cover food or highs are called the “Bolus”.
A #26: There are several groups dedicated to finding the cure for Type 1 diabetes. Among them are: JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation) and the DRI (Diabetes Research Institute). The day our kids can throw away their glucose meters, test strips and lancets, lay down their pumps, glucose tabs, frosting tubes, spare pump supplies and Glucagon kits, and we parents can sleep soundly through the night will be truly Awesome.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Diabetes, must you intrude EVERYWHERE?

In the last 2 weeks, Miss M tried out for the school cheer team.  Yes, indeed, my dark and twisty girl who would be goth in a heartbeat if I would let her (well, her sanitized version, anyhow) wanted to join the school jump-up-and-down-and-be-perky squad.  She worked really hard after not making it last year, practicing her dance, her moves, and smiling on cue. 

Monday night, she was dancing in the kitchen, her lovely brother harassing her, when she turned and said, "Mom, I'm going to make it this year. I'm going to smile a lot more.  I think I didn't make it last year because I didn't smile enough. Oh, and because I have diabetes."

'Scuse me?  Did I REALLY just hear that?

I think I swallowed my tongue.  When I regained the power of speech, I asked her to clarify that last statement. Calmly, I hope....she said, "S (a girl on the squad) told me she heard Ms A. talking to someone and she said that C and I didn't make the squad last year because of us having diabetes. We were way better than some of the people who made it." 

OhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhKay.  Start breathing again.  Calm down before responding.  Engage brain.

I told her that I hoped that S was mistaken, and that I would hope that Ms A wouldn't have kept her and/or C off the squad due to diabetes, since she KNOWS that I am always there and she KNOWS that would be highly illegal, not to mention just flat-out WRONG. I tried to remind her that she was only a 6th grader last year, that nearly 40 people tried out for 12 spots, and that mostly 7th and 8th graders made it....sigh. I encouraged her to do her best, to keep practicing and to smile, and see what happens.  She said she was pretty sure it was the diabetes.  I really thought it might have been the crabby attitude and lack of practice, but I kept that to myself.....


Tuesday, I mentioned it to the coworker who was helping to judge tryouts.  After her head stopped exploding, she said she would make sure that there was nothing of the sort taking place this year.  :)
I asked her what she thought I should do, and she said go talk to Ms A.....which I *so* did not want to do.  As much as I talk and shoot off my mouth without thinking (KPF, you stop laughing right now) I really do NOT enjoy conflict. Turned out that I had to leave for a doctor's appointment before I could find her - how sad is it that I'd rather have a shot of cortisone directly injected into my shoulder than go have an unpleasant conversation? Tryouts commenced, and when I returned from the doctor to pick up Miss M, she said she thought it had gone well. Coworker M came through my room and told her she had done well - M excitedly asked, "HOW well?" and Coworker M said, "well, the decision is being made now so I don't know, but you were good!"  That made Miss M feel better.

Wednesday morning - nope. No cheer squad for M.
Wednesday mid-day, in the staff lounge, Miss A comes in to the copy machine. I decided to bite the bullet, so to speak, and tell her that a little birdie had informed my daughter that she didn't make cheer because of diabetes.  She was shocked, appalled, angry that someone would say such a thing, and told me she thought M was very close and should try out again next year. I asked her to please, then, TELL Miss M that she did well and that diabetes was NOT the reason she did not make the squad.   She agreed, and on the way out of school at the end of the day, stopped Miss M and said, "Hey! Come talk to me tomorrow. I want to talk to you."  M thought she was in trouble. :)

I don't know the gist of the conversation, but I do know it took place, and M seems to be okay with everything.....I don't know if I'm more annoyed that someone who has been a friend to M since kindergarten would tell her that, or annoyed that she didn't make the squad, or annoyed at diabetes having to stick its stinking nose into every little thing all the dang time.

And in the grand scheme of things, with people losing loved ones this week and mass shootings taking place, this isn't really a major issue - except to one twelve-year-old girl and her heart.


Monday, November 2, 2009

BOO! This year's Walk is in the books

Saturday was our fifth JDRF Walk to Cure Diabetes, with the awesome Halloween theme of "Say BOO! to Diabetes!"  I love that.  I'm trying to find "Boobert", this year's walk logo - he's the cutest little ghostie wearing JDRF snakers. :) This year, I served as a "staff" person, since next year I will be one of the co-Family Walk Chairpeople.  (Chairpersons?)  Holy guacamole, I knew it was a giant undertaking, putting on the world's largest JDRF walk, but really? I had *no* idea exactly how hard it really would be.  I finally cashed it in after being at the park for a 11.5 hours; I think the real staffers were there at least another couple of hours, and they were there all day Friday setting up as well.  Missy Miss and I went over for a couple of hours on Friday, too, but really, it was nothing compared to the total number of hours required.

The good news is that the weather was the best it's been in the 5 years we've been going, and despite the crummy economy there was a great turnout.  No idea on the money yet; I do hope that enough came in to at least meet last year's walk, though I won't be terribly shocked if it doesn't happen.  Many, many of the families I know said that they did not raise as much as they did last year.

The bad news? Once again, no pictures. I had no camera with me; I was so focused on getting there before sunrise and trying to learn all I could that I spaced out taking a camera with me. I am not a good scrapbooker! My membership in Scrappers Anonymous is going to be revoked....again.
Visit Wendy's blog or Kelly's blog for a few lovely pictures of the event - Wendy even snapped one of Missy Miss eating a donut with her own Miss Addy!  (Funny, I never heard anything about her having a donut....)

I look so forward to the day when we don't have to have a walk, but instead we have a "remember when the cure was discovered" party.  Then we will really be able to say BOO! to diabetes.

Friday, October 23, 2009


We are GOING BLUE!!!

Wendy did such a good job with her post about this, I swiped it from her.  Is it stealing if I say she wrote it and give her all the credit? Probably....oh well.  Hopefully, she will forgive me this time. :)

World Diabetes Day is November 14th. In honor of this occasion, Joanne got the ball rolling to create some Tshirts for us to wear....imagine it: TYPE 1 DIABETES being represented all over BlogLand in matching shirts!

It's a beautiful thing. But we have to ACT FAST. In order to get the shirts printed and delivered by 11/14, we need to get the orders rolling. STAT!!!!  (Tired Mom interjects: Wendy is a nurse. She gets to use cool medical terms like STAT.)

So here's the scoop:

We are happy to announce that the price for the shirts will be $15... and that's including taxes and shipping! For any Canadian peeps, it will be $20. Sorry to do that to you, but it's the shipping that kills you. This is the design we're going with:

So, here's what I need from you; if you want to order a shirt (or shirts!), please send an email to: with the number of shirts you want, and the sizes you need, plus the address you want it shipped to. You can order unisex(S - XXL), woman's sizes (S - XL), as well as kid's (2/4 - 14/16).

You will then need to send us the money for the shirts via Paypal (very easy and totally secure, I use it all the time). To send money, all you have to do is go to, click on send money, and enter the email address above in the "To" line.

And that's it, folks. So get those orders in and let's TURN THE WORLD BLUE!!!!!!!!!

Once again, thanks Wendy for the blog entry, and thanks Joanne for getting the BLUE ball rolling!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Got sneakers?

I have about 40 of the JDRF sneaker car magnets in green that I volunteered to sell for our local JDRF chapter.  These are the green magnets that say "Help Find A Cure for Type 1 Diabetes". 

If you are interested in purchasing one, or a dozen :), let me know.  Magnets are $3 each, 2 for $5 plus 50 cents shipping/handling each. Sorry for the crummy picture; I had to use my cell phone camera.
ALL money goes to the Desert Southwest Chapter of JDRF

Friday, October 16, 2009

Awareness, anyone?

World Diabetes Day is coming up soon - November 14th.  Think about the people you know. How many people really understand the difference between type 1 and Type 2?  Well, from personal experience I can say NOT VERY DANG MANY.  (disclaimer:  before Type 1 came to live in our house, I knew a little - now I know far more than I ever wanted to know.)  We have been fairly fortunate with not getting the "She can grow out of it" or "She just ate too much sugar; if she exercises it will go away" types of comments.  There have been some but not too many. 

However, there are FAR too many PoCWDs who have absolutely AWFUL, TERRIBLE things said to them about (and to) their children.  I mean, really - would you walk up to a child who was bald due to chemotherapy and ask her what she ate that gave her cancer, or tell her she just needs a special juice supplement to make it all better? 

Parents of children with Type 1 want to turn the world blue, just like those who support breast cancer research have turned the world pink.  (Please note - we are NOT saying that breast cancer is an unworthy cause by any means....we just want to raise diabetes awareness to the same kind of level.)  Thanks to Joanne, the idea of a tshirt like the one pictured above may just help us spread the message!!  As soon as the details are finalized,  these will be made up and the education campaign will begin!!

If you are in to help spread the T1 awareness message, blog it, post it on FB, tweet about it - whatever you need to do to get the word out.   We're out to turn the world BLUE!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Happy fall (break) , y'all ...sniff, sneeze

It's finally cooling off here in the 7th circle of Hell, aka central Arizona.   Mid October, and the temps are finally in the double digits rather than triple....bringing with them the cool mornings and hot afternoons that require jackets over shorts and tshirts.  I'll take that over 115 any day.  We're sitting with the doors and windows open tonight, a nice cool breeze coming through to take away the "heat" of the day.  It was about 85 indoors at one point, but I was steadfast and did NOT turn the a/c back on.  We have about 6 months of electric bills that are enormously inflated by a/c use, so I try to really keep it off once we shut it down. Generally speaking we are the opposite of the majority of the nation - our heating bills are not the huge ones.  It's the "summer", which generally begins somewhere around April Fool's Day and lasts until the end of September.  

The temperature changes have brought allergy/flu junk along with them.  It seems that Missy Miss has some version of the flu, or some other ugly, nasty virus.   We came home from  the Children With Diabetes conference in La Jolla and she promptly developed a sore throat....two days later, fever and a deep chest cough. She's been sleeping like mad and her blood sugars, well, SUCK.  I've been running a temp rate of 130% to 150% to keep her semi-down to normal....Otherwise it's nothing but 250s and up.   So far the rest of us haven't had much, just slight sore throats and sniffles.  I'm hoping we all can stave off the germs.  Vitamins and LOTS of hand-washing...

The hubs is having more stomach issues.  He went for an ultrasound last week, and this week I get to take him for an endoscopy.  The GI doc thinks it's his gallbladder....which wouldn't be too shocking considering his diet and lifestyle. :)  He doesn't have stomach pain so much as chest pain, which is a little (lot) scary.  He's had enough cardiac exams and tests to know that it's not actually his heart now, which led to trying stomach meds and finally going to the GI.   No one in my family can have normal symptoms; we all have to have freakishly strange things that make figuring out the problem more challenging, and stressful.

More on the CWD conference later this week; since it's Fall Break (woo hoo!) I have some time to try to update the blog more than once a month.  :)

Friday, September 18, 2009

Ever have one of those....

days, weeks, months?


It's been one of them and THEN some lately.

Here's hoping that things will be turning around and the silver linings will become more apparent to me - because right now, I'm having a hard time seeing past the gray clouds.

I know I'm not the only one who feels like this, and I know I have plenty of things to be happy about - the blessings really do abound in my life.  I have to refocus on those.  

Sometimes I just need a reminder.

h light rays.html

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Four years ago

I have a hard time believing that it was only four years ago that our world changed so dramatically.
August 23, 2005...a date that lives in infamy in my brain. I'm too fried at the moment to write a coherent post, so I'm revising a message I posted last year to our local support group.

Miss M and two Backstreet Boys at Phoenix Children's Hospital, Aug. 2005
(notice the bandaids? she collected one for every finger poke and shot back then)

Four years ago, my husband, daughter and I were sitting in the pediatrician's office waiting to find out why Miss M was losing weight and peeing all the time. I knew in my heart what it was, even though my head and my husband were telling me that everything would be fine and it was something simple.

After a simple urine dip, we knew she had diabetes. The nurse practitioner came back and said that they were waiting on a call-back from the hospital on whether or not we could drive her there ourselves, or if she needed to be taken in an ambulance. I was so confused - there wasn't anything WRONG with her, why would she need an ambulance? After the PNP left, M started to cry, and it took all I could NOT to cry. She was scared - she knew something was wrong, and wanted to know if it was going to hurt, whatever they were going to do. She didn't want to go to the hospital. Because my college friend Jenny's son had been diagnosed a few years before, I knew that we were looking at three days or more at the hospital.

I excused myself, went outside the building, and called my in-laws to see if they could come to Phoenix to stay with Mister Boychild while we took her to the hospital. Honestly, I just needed to get out of the exam room; I felt as if all the oxygen had been sucked out and I couldn't get my breath. I needed to go outside and have a minor breakdown and then pull it all back together. I remember the absolute SILENCE on the end of the phone when I said those words I had been dreading - M has been just been diagnosed with diabetes. My father-in-law has been dealing with type 2 for years, and at that moment, I didn't really know what we were going to face with her, except that it was going to need insulin. I don't think my mother-in-law knew what to say, either.

It turned out that there were no beds available, so they sent us home to wait for a call from the doctor on call to come down later that night. We packed her a bag, called family to tell them what was happening, and decided that it would be better to keep our son with us and on his normal school schedule. He had just started first grade, and Miss M third. The fabulous and wonderful Dr. D. called to tell us to come down - our first conversation - and I asked what she could eat, because the poor girl was "soooooooooo hungry", another one of the symptoms that I had ignored or explained away to myself. She told us to have some milk, a cheese stick, or some peanut butter crackers, foods which we would come to be very familiar with for snacking in the days and weeks ahead. By 6 PM, we were installed in a room at the children's hospital, telling the story AGAIN of what had brought us to the doctor that day. Miss M had her first finger poke before dinner (somewhere in the mid-400's.....I have no real recollection of the number, because it all is a blur) and her first shot of insulin after dinner.

I wound up snuggling up to my little girl in her hospital bed, trying not to jostle the IV in her hand that had been so painfully inserted at midnight. (We had not yet heard of EMLA) It took 3 hospital staffers AND me to hold her down to get the IV placed, in that "cheerfully painted' room with jungle animals on the walls and glow-in-the-dark stars on the ceiling. She was slightly dehydrated and had large ketones, so getting fluids into (and out of) her was a major goal.

1 AM brought another finger poke with one of those prehistoric one-use lancets; she left many bloody spots on the hospital sheets that night. I could hear the night nurse calling the endo on call, asking if Miss M should have another shot of insulin since her BG was 300+, even though it hadn't been ordered. I had yet to learn what the "right" range was, but 300 was obviously NOT where it needed to be.

The next three days were a blur of information-packed days and sleepless nights. Crying in the shower in the parents' bathroom down the hall (recommended by the kind and supportive resident, Dr. G). The Dear Husband would take Mr. Boychild to school, come to the hospital for training, go back and pick up MB, then bring him back to the hospital so we could have all dinner together. Miss M loved getting to call "room service" for her meals, or for a snack whenever she wished - the rest of us made do with cafeteria fare.She thought the hospital was a great place, full of toys and games and people bringing her presents.....she wasn't "sick", she was having a new adventure.

Bringing her home after 3 full days and nights in the hospital was scarier than the day we brought her home the first time. I didn't understand how they could be sending us out into the world to deal with this disease when we had NO idea what we were doing. Now I know that we had it SOOOO much easier than those who had babies diagnosed, but at that time I just kept going back and forth between wondering why she couldn't have just broken her arm and being thankful she didn't have cancer. Cancer seemed so much scarier.....

Fast forward to 2009. The Dear Husband and I are now full-fledged members of the Amateur Endocrinologist's Club, doing our best to be a functional pancreas for our daughter. We are living our "new normal". Miss M is a happy, healthy pre-teen. She's half again as tall as she was at diagnosis, and weighs more than twice what she did 4 years ago. She's on a new pump (the OmniPod is her second insulin pump) , we have a continuous glucose monitor that I dearly love and she hates, a group of wonderful friends who understand completely what this journey has been like and continues to be, and many more friends who, while they don't LIVE this journey, support us in every way possible. So I say today to you all, "THANK YOU". Thanks for being there when I needed to vent; thanks for listening when I cry; thanks for being there when I have questions; thanks for just being there. Thank you to each and every one of you who comes to our fundraisers, walks around at Tempe Town Lake with us no matter how warm it is, wears our team t-shirts, and lets me ramble on about diabetes even if it makes no sense to you whatsoever. Being alone with this is just not something that I could bear; I need and am grateful for the support, friendship and love of family members, friends (both old and new, both local and "virtual").

If you've read this far, wow. You have stamina. :) If you're still reading, please visit watch this video on the Artificial Pancreas Project - the next step to a more normal life for those with Type 1 diabetes. It's not a cure by any means, but it's a giant step forward in normalizing blood sugars and avoiding complications. Those of you who are local, please join with us and 20,000 of our closest friends and relatives at this year's JDRF Walk to Cure Diabetes at Tempe Town Lake on October 31. It's my sincere hope that I won't have to keep writing this same type of post year after year after year......I want to be able to write a post that says "She's CURED".

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

So it's been a while..

Yeah, well. I'm all aflutter with the beginning of a new school year, buried in meetings and paperwork and trying to figure out how to put too many desks in a too-small room (with not enough air conditioning).

So for your amusement while you wait for me to come up with an ACTUAL blog post, here's a meme. Stolen from Kris, who got it from someone else, who probably got it from someone else, and so on, and so on. (How old am I, that I reference that shampoo commercial? Geez)

8 Things I...

am looking forward to
  • cooler weather
  • my kids coming home from grandma's house
  • a paycheck after a summer without one
  • the cookout with my side of the family this weekend
  • meeting the kids in my class
  • the JDRF walk (October 31, Tempe Town Lake)
  • having my room completely ready for the first day of school
  • putting my head on my pillow tonight
did yesterday
  • laundry
  • Facebook
  • back to school staff meeting
  • started rearranging my messy classroom
  • fixed a broken bookshelf
  • talked to my kids on the phone
  • watched a weird movie with my hubby
  • zonked out early
wish I could do
  • talk to my mother
  • find a cure for diabetes
  • lose weight easily
  • speak another language fluently
  • get people to understand why public school is important and quit to blaming teachers for all the ills of the system
  • go on a nice vacation with my family
  • keep my house spotlessly clean
  • get everything done in a day that I mean to get done in a day
shows I watch (thank goodness for DVDs and DVRs)
  • Grey's Anatomy
  • Army Wives
  • TrueBlood
  • Nurse Jackie
  • The Secret Life of the American Teenager
  • Iron Chef America
  • Law & Order (any of them)
  • CSI (any of them)
favorite foods
  • grandma's homemade noodles w/roast beef (which I haven't had in 20+ years)
  • chips and salsa
  • most any kind of pasta
  • eegee's
  • fresh berries of any kind
  • a well-grilled steak and baked potato
  • the chicken/pine nut/tomato/gorgonzola salad at Sauce
  • the spinach artichoke dip at Houston's
places I'd like to visit/travel
  • New York
  • Australia
  • Ireland
  • Hawaii
  • San Francisco
  • Seattle
  • Chicago/greater Chicagoland (to see family)
  • San Diego
people I'm tagging
  • Nah, do it if you like. No pressure. :)

Friday, July 24, 2009

The Winding Down of Summer

Doesn't that sound ridiculous? It's July. Here in Arizona, the season known as summer will continue until at least mid-September. Then we may see the end of 100+ degree days, and by mid-October, it may be necessary to wear long sleeves in the morning on the way to work (but run the a/c in the car on the way home).

So why is summer winding down?

Because schools starts in TWO WEEKS. Yes, indeed, the kiddos of Arizona will be returning to pencils and books and homework in mere moments. We teachers will be back even sooner.....and there ARE districts where teachers have ALREADY returned to work!

But it's SUMMER, you say! How can you go back to school when it's not even close to Labor Day? How can you send kids to the playground when it's 110 outside in the shade? Well, let's put it this way. The folks who make the calendars aren't the ones who are on playground duty, you know what I mean? Although, to be fair, if we started in September, we'd go well into June. You know, June....when the average temperature in Phoenix is 105, and our high was once 122?

It's hard to have a "summer vacation" when summer last 6 months.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

What's New?

I'm feeling the need to post something, even though there's nothing interesting to's hot. Evil wicked nasty hot - but that's Arizona in July. Nothing new there.

We went to the water park last night, and Mr. Boy smacked his head in the wave pool. Nothing new there, either - if there is a way to injure himself, he will find it. (And he's fine - some ice on the head and a quiet evening fixed him up fine.)

Tomorrow is the 3-month endo appointment....time for another report card on "how good are you at being a pancreas?". Dr. D never says anything to that effect; she actually is very complimentary at how hard we work to take care of Miss M and the D Monster, but it always feels like a failure if her A1C goes up and a screaming success if it goes down. Feeling like a failure at managing a chronic illness in a hormonal pre-teen - nope, still nothing new. We do have good days, and we have bad ones, and the goal is for the good to outweigh the bad. Doesn't always turn out like that, though...

Replacement of the air conditioners at my school continues, so there is no WAY that I can go work in my classroom until it's finished...maybe next week? Summer is rapidly coming to a close for us, at least in terms of vacation....climate-wise, it will be summer for another 8 weeks at least. Not blast-furnace hot, but hot enough that going out to recess isn't a heck of a lot of fun for the kids (or the teachers). Putting off returning to my room? Nope, been doing that for more years than I can count.

Tonight is the midnight opening of Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince. Why again did I agree to take three 12-year-old girls to this when we have to be at the clinic at 9 AM tomorrow? Oh, yeah, because I'm CRAZY. (that's definitely not anything new) Two weeks from now, when it comes out in IMAX 3D, we're going to have to go see it again, I'm afraid - but the idea of Quidditch on a 3-story tall screen really makes my stomach feel queasy. Mom = motion sick = old news.

So what's new with you? :)

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Love/Hate relationship

Diabetes technology is a wonderful thing. Had my daughter been diagnosed 40 years ago instead of 4, we wouldn't have home blood glucometers that give a readout in 5 seconds using the tiniest drop of blood. We wouldn't have a blood ketone meter that tells in a half a minute whether or not she is in danger of developing diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), which can be fatal. We wouldn't have a pump, a CGM, rapid-acting insulin, carb counts on all the food she eats, or the wide variety of sugar-free products that are available to us today. Not sure, but we might not have even had disposable needles - the idea of sharpening a needle after boiling the syringes on the stove pretty much turns my stomach. (If she was born 40 years ago, she wouldn't be my daughter, either, but that's beside the point.)

The downside to all this is that all this technology takes time and effort and brainpower that I often don't have to spare in order to keep it working. I LOOOOOOVVVVEEEE having the continuous glucose monitor that reads her blood glucose levels every 5 minutes. OK, for the purists out there, it reads interstitial fluids rather than blood, but it still tells me where she is and if she's trending up, down, or relatively stable. FABULOUS information that is available with the push of a couple of buttons rather than a finger poke every 5 minutes.

Downside 1 - batteries. Tonight, I used up the last 3 button batteries I had trying to get a new CGM sensor and transmitter to talk to each other - a new battery comes in each box, but that doesn't mean that it's a new battery that is fully charged! After 30 minutes of sweating and swapping and praying that the last one would work, I heard the lovely little "BEEEEEEP" and saw the "New Sensor Detected" message I had been trying to find. Now, the 10 hour wait for calibration begins...which is a whole 'nother downside for a different day.

Downside 2 - carrying all this stuff around. The pump is tethered to her body by the tubing of the infusion set. This doesn't mean that it stays put, though - I just watched her stand up and screech because the pump fell towards the floor, yanking on said infusion set....OUCH. No pockets means nowhere to put the pump, the CGM receiver (which is not tiny, either), the lancing device and the test strips, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

Downside 3 - she hates all this stuff. HATES it. She doesn't want to go back to shots, because I've given her the option, but having multiple pieces of equipment to carry around with her is terribly annoying. She LIKES not having to poke her finger 10 times a day or more, but the need to drag everything with her really ticks her off sometimes. Understandably, of course. Who wants to be tied to a couple of remote controls constantly?

Shortly after M was diagnosed, we went to a research presentation and heard a local doctor speak about putting kids on pumps. His idea was to incorporate the insulin pump into a cell phone/MP3 player. He said that would guarantee that EVERY teen would want one, and I think he is correct! If only there was an iPod/Phone/Pump wouldn't take care of the battery issue, but integrating EVERYTHING into one easy to carry unit would sure be a step in the right direction!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

The Numbers Game

Growing up, I was never one of those kids who was a math whiz. Sure, I got by in math class, but numbers were not my friends - I found my comfort in words, in books, in language. I could make sense of the most complex sentences, but throw the Pythagorean theorem at me, and I was lost.

High school algebra was the first time I ever got a failure notice in school...Pulled out a B, I think, but I choked my way through whatever math classes were required, and I certainly didn't sign up for any that were not necessary to get me through. When I went to college, I avoided certain career paths that were going to put me in multiple higher-level math classes, because math is NOT MY LANGUAGE. Maybe I'm just not an ordered, logical thinker (Me? Really?) but when it comes to numbers, they may as well be some exotic foreign language. Or, they might be English, but as spoken by the Swedish Chef.

So, isn't it ironic that my life nowadays REVOLVES around numbers?

Blood glucose readings

Continuous Glucose Monitoring

Insulin on board stats(IOB)

Carb Counts

Don't forget the quarterly Hemoglobin A1c tests, doctor's copays, serial numbers for the meters, the pump, the CGM transmitter, the CGM receiver, the phone numbers, insurance id numbers, the fees for doctors, specialists, prescriptions....the numbers never end.

Diabetes is an insidious, cruel, time-consuming and heart-wrenching disease....and it's ALL ABOUT THE NUMBERS.

Bork, bork, bork!!

 it any wonder I find numbers confusing? This is what the temperature readout said in my car yesterday, less than 2 minutes apart...

By the way, the 100-degree reading was a LOT closer to reality
than the 80...sigh...

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Two week post-tonsils

Happily, I survived the tonsillectomy! Truthfully, there were a few days that I wished I hadn't. I'm so happy for Vicodin (to kill the pain) and Phenergan (to kill the nausea caused by the Vicodin). I'm so happy that my husband took good care of me and even stayed home an extra day and a half because I felt so lousy. I'm so happy that we were able to schedule this "little procedure" at a time where both my kids could be gone away for a week, so I could rest easily without having to worry about what they were up to while I was unconscious. Which I was for the better part of seven days.

The night before the operation, the kids went to friends' houses to stay the night and part of Friday. The Dear Husband and I went out for dinner (my last solid food for a while!) and came home to watch a movie. Bright and early Friday, sans coffee - which may have been the hardest part - we set out for the surgicenter. A brief wait, an IV full of saline, a quick chat with the surgeon and the anesthesiologist, and away I went.
I heard, "This may burn a little going in", and then "Good night". I don't think I was awake 30 seconds in the operating room.

90 minutes later, give or take, and I was awakened by a nurse asking if I was OK, if I could swallow a pill, and if I could get myself dressed while she went to get DH. Door to door, the entire thing took a little more than 3 hours, and that was with 20 minutes' drive each direction! Dr. S came out and told DH that my tonsils were "QUITE large and QUITE deep", and that I should expect a sore throat for a good 10 days or so. Boy, he wasn't kidding.

Kids came home in the afternoon, finished packing, and I was a happy girl with icepacks around my neck and Sonic Slush for inside. Swallowing wasn't pleasant, but I was still well-medicated. Saturday saw the kids leaving for their assorted destinations and the anesthesia wearing off. Suddenly I wasn't quite sure that I should have gone through with it after all.

The next few days pass in a bit of a blur of ice water, shaved ice, jello, pudding, and pills. Somewhere along the way, Tuesday perhaps?, I decided to cut back on the 2 AM pain pills and instead of taking 1.5, I took one half a pill. Not very smart....the next day I was right back to taking about as much as I could choke down.

Strangely enough, Friday - 7 days post-op - saw me awaken to a throat that was significantly improved. One side hurt very little, and the other was down from 9 on the pain scale to about a 6. Miss M came home from camp on Saturday, and we had a lovely but unusual weekend with only one child. (She would have liked to keep it that way, but that wasn't going to happen.) By this past Monday, when Mr. M was brought home by his grandpa, I was feeling MUCH improved. I promptly overdid it, and wiped myself out. Typical me.

Today, Miss M tested positive from strep throat, a lovely souvenir from diabetes camp last week. Apparently a few campers tested positive at the end of the week, and I hear that there are quite a few post-camp cases of it circulating. I also had my post-op check today, and Dr. S said that I needn't worry. Theoretically, I could still catch strep throat, but odds are that I won't. How would I know? I still have a sore throat.

Sooo, as it stands, one side of my throat feels a lot like it would if I DID have strep. Or how it felt for a good deal of the past winter. More annoying is the lingering numbness in my tongue and the lack of sense of taste. Food doesn't have a lot of flavor for me at the moment, and sometimes i have trouble swallowing because 1/2 my tongue feels like I've been Novocained. Dr. S told me today that these may last a few weeks, even a few months.

Even if they do, I'll take that over being as sick as I was this year. Hopefully, the taste will come back and the numbness will dissipate....eventually.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Got Tonsils?

I do, for about another 12 hours - then it's ADIOS to the nasty little buggers.

So there may or may not be anything new coming your way for a few days, depending upon how much pain medication I actually consume. Shocking, I know - no new updates from the Rambling Mom! Oh, wait, you're already accustomed to that. :)

Bet I'll ramble even more when I'm on Percocet or Vicodin......

Monday, June 1, 2009

In the good old summertime....

the kids will gripe and whine.

Thus ends my attempt at modifying old song lyrics. ;)

We are now ending the first Monday of summer vacation, and my dear children are "so, so, so, so, so, so DESPERATELY bored"! Because, you know, they have nothing at all to occupy their time....unless you count the books, games, toys, electronic gadgets, 250+ channels of television and music, the swimming pool, the bikes and skateboards and scooters. Nope, those don't count.

Thankfully, next week they will both be off to their special trips.
Miss M is off to Camp AZDA, the ADA's camp for kids with diabetes. This is her fourth summer going to camp, and it is the ABSOLUTE HIGHLIGHT of her entire year. Last year, she announced that she wanted to live there all year, even though it's not actually D camp year-round....didn't matter. She is also VERY excited to have our good friend, known at camp as "Knockout", as her DC (diabetic counselor) this year. Each cabin has a young adult with Type 1 assigned to that group; generally each cabin has 6 or 8 girls, I believe. They also have Med Staff, which can be a nurse, doctor, CDE or other medical professional that is experienced in dealing with the D Monster. These wonderful DCs and Staffers, all of whom have "camp names", work very hard to keep all the kids as safe as it is humanly possible to be. During the 7 days she is at D Camp, she is more closely monitored and supervised than any other place she goes - probably even more so than she is at home. There is ALWAYS someone with her that knows what to do. We check in with med staff at camp drop-off, and get a report from the same staff at camp pick-up, including a log with everything that happened d-wise during the week.

The Boy will be off to grandma and grandpa's house for his special time with them. Two years ago, he started going there to do Vacation Bible School in the morning at their church, and then spending the rest of the day exploring the Sonoran Desert that surrounds their home. Grandpa always enlists him to help with projects and puts him to work in one way or another, and he has a grand and glorious time being the center of attention.

And what fabulousness will I be experiencing sans children, you might ask?
Hold onto your hats - *I* will be recuperating from a tonsillectomy. Yes, that's right, at the tender age of I will be saying goodbye to my germ-laden, oversized, nasty sickness-bearing tonsils. Doesn't THAT just sound like fun?

May I just say that one of the worst things I've chosen to do in the last week or so was to google "adult tonsillectomy" and spend 2 hours reading assorted postings from previous patients. DUH!!! I had already heard plenty of stories from people, but I just felt some insane need to try to negate those stories with internet info. DOUBLE DUH!!!! While I knew it wasn't going to be the most pleasant thing I've experienced, I was hoping it wasn't going to be that bad. One of my brothers had to have his palate and uvula reshaped due to sleep apnea, and had a really, really unpleasant couple of weeks. My hope is that it won't be quite as bad as his recovery turned out to be. Did I mention that I have the pain tolerance of...something with absolutely no pain tolerance? I'm the mom who asked for the epidural at 7 months....I'm hoping for a swift recovery, or at least for good pain meds.

Otherwise, it won't be the kids doing the griping and whining.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Beware the Aporkalypse!

with thanks to the commenter Jane P.H. on Facebook who posted the words Aporkalypse Hamdemic (which made me literally LOL)

What is UP with the hysteria over the Swine/H1N1/Flavor of the Day flu "epidemic"?

Believe me, as the parent of a child with diabetes and a child with chronic stomach problems, the last thing I want to introduce into my home is influenza, of any variety. That being said, aren't we as a society going a WEE bit overboard?

One of my FB friends posted a photo of the "hand sanitizer" aisle at Target yesterday....completely empty. A co worker got a text from a friend that works at Walgreens who told her that all the face masks had been sold out on Wednesday afternoon. Ten kids showed up for school today with personal-sized bottles of Purel in their pockets. My friend Wendy over at Candy Hearts is completely overwhelmed with people calling the pediatrician's triage phone line to find out what to do.

The day started with one of my students asking if we were still going to go all the way to May 27th for school, because his friend told him that we were all going to have to go home because of the Swine Flu (or the Swan Flu, as one of the other second-graders insisted to his teacher that it was called). We had a long talk this morning about using good hygiene, coughing and sneezing into our elbows instead of our hands, and throwing our own used tissues into the trash instead of leaving them on the desk or the floor; all things that we have been talking about ALL YEAR LONG. I had to explain that yes, indeed, one of our schools has been closed because a student had the swine flu, but he actually recovered and had gone BACK to school before it was even discovered. Two more schools in our county have also been ordered closed, as have numerous schools around the nation. But we don't do that for the "regular" flu, or for strep throat, or pink eye, or any of the other nasty contagious things that sweep through schools on a regular basis. Since it seems to be turning out that the effects of H1N1/Swine are no worse than that of the typical flu, doesn't it seem like everyone needs to just take a deep breath and relax?

A deep breath of sanitized air through a surgical mask, of course.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

What is the silliest thing that ever happened to you?

The silliest thing that ever happened to me was finding myself in an episode of Roadrunner vs.Coyote, or Tom vs Jerry.

I slipped and fell on a banana peel.

It wasn't entirely my fault.....I stepped into (or, more accurately, ONTO) a trap.
Said banana peel was carefully placed inside the exterior doors of the administration building at my school. It was late on a busy Friday afternoon, and I was hustling around trying to get my classroom cleared up from the week, prepped for Monday, and ready for the school carnival on Saturday. I left my classroom and headed toward the teacher's workroom, meaning to make a few copies of something for the following week.

The school was busy, with lots of parents working on carnival preparations, and their kids running about, some more supervised than others. I walked up to the double steel doors, turned the handle, and began to step inside. I heard a variety of shouts - "No!" "Don't!" "Pick that up right now!" without knowing what they were for.....until my left foot landed squarely on the peel that had been carefully placed just inside the doorframe. Suddenly, I began a slow-motion slide that resulted in a near-splits, with my entire self coming down onto my left wrist. I rolled onto the floor, in quite a daze. I had no idea how I'd gone from upright to on my back, looking up into the shocked eyes of a former student of mine.

This child, a first grader, decided it would be EVER so funny to watch someone go sliding just like in the cartoons. What she didn't realize was that it would be ME, her last year's teacher, that would hit the deck! A rapid recitation of "I'm sorry I'msorry I'msorryMrs.D I'm sorry I'm sorry" rang through the hallway. I'm quite certain that, had I the ability to burn holes in steel with my eyes, the child would have gone up in a puff of smoke. Several parents (who had of COURSE witnessed the entire embarrassing show) helped me up and shooed her away. I assured them that I was fine, continued on into the office, and went in to tell the secretary what had happened. When I got into the office, I realized that my arm was screaming in pain and swelling up so fast that I didn't think I'd be able to remove my watch.

Two visits to the OSHA clinic, one to the x-ray facility, and a day off work for doctor's appointments later, it was determined that I did NOT have a broken wrist, rather a bad sprain.
Everywhere I went, when I had to describe what happened, the reactions ranged from raised eyebrows to guffaws of hysterical laughter.

I spent about 10 weeks going to physical therapy three times a week to rehabilitate from my little cartoon adventure. Why this post now, 2 years later? Because I picked up my rolling tote of teacher goodies today and promptly dropped it; my left wrist completely gave way when I tried to lift it out of the back of the MomWagon.

Apparently, my recuperative powers are not quite up to the same level as those of the Coyote.
Even though the label on banana peel said Dole, not ACME.

So, what is the silliest thing that ever happened to you, Gentle Reader?

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Hello, again...

Hello. (Do you see the Lionel Richie video in your head now? I do.)

I've not been very good about keeping up with blogging, have I? Hmmm, there's a shock. Lately, it seems that I'm not keeping up with a lot of things. Just this morning, several of us were lamenting the lack of Bewitched-type nose-twitch-induced cleaning abilities. Or a kingdom for a wand and a spellbook, a la Harry Potter. You know, a Marauder's Map that would show where all my childrens' misplaced belongings are would be lovely, too.

So I'm sitting here recovering from the Friday night junior high dance (complete with fire alarms going off!) and Saturday night's fiesta of 12 year old girls. MissyMiss had several friends over to celebrate her birthday, even though it was a couple of weeks late. MisterBoychild and his father left to go to a car show several hours away for the day - side note, what is the attraction of driving 5 hours away, sitting in a parking lot with a bunch of other car people, then driving home 5 hours? I don't get it - so it was just Estrogen City at Casa Rambling last night.

Lord have MERCY. I don't remember having that much energy when I was 12, though I probably did. Like a gaggle of geese, they honked and hooted all night long! Every time I went to check on them, they went silent.......agreed very politely to whatever I said.......then shut the door and burst into hysterical giggles. Not very suspicious behavior, not at all! I know that they spent the majority of the night talking into their cellphones at the same time, all to different people. I believe most of them were boys, but I'm not positive.

I watched a couple of movies (chick flicks, as MM called them - What Happens in Vegas and Marley and Me) and graded some papers between bouts of providing snacks and drinks and calling for BG checks. The good news on the D front is that neither girl (MM or her pal C, both of whom have the 'betes) had horrifying BGs last night, despite the junk that mysteriously appeared in the game room, as evidenced by the wrappers found on the floor. Bad news was that one pal went home in the middle of the night because she felt so lousy. I hope that her headache/stomachache/general yuckiness weren't passed along to the rest of the crowd.

Met with a couple of moms from the support group today, which was fun....though I heard stories about teachers and diabetes that made my blood pressure SKYROCKET. Just when I think I've heard it all, comes another chapter of "how to NOT behave with a student with diabetes in your class". Suffice it to say that if this particular teacher were on the staff at MY school, I would have done her. After I made sure that the principal, the superintendent, the board members, and the little green men on Mars heard about her terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad behavior. (side note #2 - Judith Viorst has SUCH a way with words....if you don't know what I mean, you must go out IMMEDIATELY and get the book Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No-Good, Very Bad Day. Immediately! Like right now! Library or bookstore, I don't care....stop reading my sorry little blog and go NOW!)

It makes me so sad to think that so many teachers who WANT to be in the classroom, who LOVE to work with children and their parents, who SHOULD be teaching, are losing their jobs while nasty old crones are still there. I have friends who are fabulous teachers that have no idea if they will have a job next year, simply because they switched school districts at a bad time.

So, having rambled on and on, Gentle Readers, I send you forth with a few tasks. First, if you still are here and haven't read Alexander...., you really must. The followup book, Alexander Who Used to be Rich Last Sunday is a great one as well. Second, if you are a parent of a CWD and you have a wonderful, supportive teacher, TELL HER/HIM. Teacher Appreciation Week is coming soon, and this is a great time to tell your child's teacher how grateful you are. Tell the principal if your teacher is doing a great job, and if you have a nurse or health tech that is fabulous, tell about them, too. Let the district office know that you are pleased with the care your child receives in his/her school and name names! They hear the bad stuff all day long; we need to impress upon those who make decisions that it's NOT JUST ABOUT TEST SCORES. Children have so many more needs than just to write a complete sentence or add a column of numbers correctly, and having staff that sees to the *whole* child is a blessing that can't be quantified. Third, if you have a teacher that is NOT all that could be desired, document and report. I'm certain that there are days where I have not been Mary Sunshine and probably made children and their parents unhappy for one reason or another, and most of the time I have heard about it. But there is a big difference between having a bad day and violating a child's rights, and THAT needs to be put to a stop.

As the school year comes to its conclusion, I can't promise to update more frequently, or with fewer rambles. I will promise to at least make an attempt to be slightly more current.
Next time, my summer plans - some of which should be great, and some of which are not going to be any fun at all....

Friday, April 3, 2009

Standardized Testing.....

Next week, our school will be giving the state standardized tests. I spent a good portion of my afternoon today covering up the calendar, the number chart, the number line, the 6 Traits of Writing poster, and anything else on the walls of my classroom that might "aid" a student in answering the questions on the standardized test. Never mind the fact that we spend a good deal of time TEACHING kids to use the resources at hand to help them figure out the answers to questions (don't know what that means? Let's look it up!). Heaven FORBID they actually see a number line on the wall and use it to count forward or backward to get the answer to a math problem! I'm wondering how long it will be before they outlaw fingers? Sorry, kid, you have to sit on your hands for the whole test. And don't even THINK about trying to count on your toes!

For a kid with diabetes (or any other medical issue, really) the standardized test presents a whole new set of problems. My daughter has a 504 plan, which is a legal document stating that she has a medical condition that can impair her ability to learn or perform daily tasks. This document sets out certain guidelines that the school must follow to help her to achieve while dealing with the medical necessities of diabetes. If she didn't take insulin, her blood sugar would skyrocket, and her ability to think would be compromised (and she'd fall into a coma and die, but that's a whole 'nuther issue). If she has a low blood sugar due to her diabetes, she can have a seizure - but even before it gets that severe, her ability to think rationally, to remember information, to write clearly is severely impacted. Both highs and lows take time to treat and return to normal blood sugar levels. BUUUUT, when you are taking a standardized test, everyone gets exactly the same amount of time, no matter what. Unless you have a 504 (or an IEP, individualized education plan, another document that spells out what special accomodations kids require).

The rub is this: in order to receive accomodations for your issue, whatever it is (diabetes, a learning disability, a broken writing hand that 's in a cast) you have to be tested in an alternate location. You can't stay with your regular teacher and your regular classmates and take the test at the same times as them, because YOU might have to go to the bathroom extra, or stop and have a juice box to bring up your blood sugar. YOU might have to use a calculator because you have an identified learning disability in math - but no one else gets to. YOU may need to have someone write your answers for you because your arm is in a cast.....and we can't have you doing that in front of all the other little test-taking-machines.

This need to be separated is understandable; teachers are under a LOT of pressure with these tests to make sure that every little quirk of the rules is followed, and having one person using a different set of rules would be hard. But the stress it causes to the kids who are sent off to a different room, a different teacher, with different kids has an effect on their testing! My DD is now almost 12, and she would be OK going elsewhere, but it makes her angry. She was VERY unhappy last year that she had to leave her class to go to another room and take the test with the special ed. teacher who was supervising small groups of testers. I have a student, though, who is on a 504 for a specific health issue, who was VERY upset that he had to go take the test in a different room for the last round of testing. I think that it had a negative impact on him and on his test scores, because he is MUCH more capable than his scores show him to be.

Then there's the stress and anxiety that the testing causes. My DS has a condition that causes pain similar to a migraine, but it's in his abdomen. As much as we would like to think that we aren't stressing these kids out, all the emphasis that's put on these tests really messes with some of their heads. All week long, the morning announcements have been touting perfect attendance and being on time. Notes went home to parents stating the importance of a good night's sleep and healthy eating during test week. (Like it's not important the rest of the time) My son, who hasn't had any stomach problems for weeks now, has had awful stomach aches for the last 3 days and nights, every day being a little worse. We're upsetting their routines, we're changing the environment of the classroom, and we're focusing on one test to the exclusion of everything else for a full week. Sure, no stress there. A friend's daughter finished her testing this past week, and now feels dumb because there were things on the test that haven't been covered in class yet (which makes sense, since there are still two more months of school to go). So the test that is supposed to show how smart she is makes her feel stupid?

And since breakfast IS the most important meal of the day, each and every child will receive a FREE breakfast in the classroom next week! I love having cereal crumbs and milky, juicy spills all over the desks. :) The best part is what is IN the's a lovely little box with a bowl of cereal, a box of apple juice, and a "side dish". Last year, the cereals were Rice Krispies, Kix and Cheerios. The side dishes were graham crackers or animal cookies. This year? Our cereals are Froot Loops, Frosted Flakes and Apple Jacks, and two of the 3 varieties come with a FROSTED POP TART in them. Add in a juice box, a carton of milk, and you have a MASSIVE sugar infusion to each and every little body before giving them a test requiring them to sit still and be silent for LONG periods of time. So now we circle back to the diabetes.......each one of those breakfast boxes has approximately 80 carbs (before milk) and 40 grams of sugar!!! It is nearly IMPOSSIBLE for a kid to consume 80 carbs and not have a blood sugar spike, no matter HOW carefully they are pre-dosed with insulin! I guess I should be glad that the boxes have reduced-sugar versions of Frosted Flakes and Froot Loops, right? Good heavens, how many carbs would it be for the non-reduced-sugar kind?


Standardized tests aren't going to go away. Diabetes isn't going to go away. Not sure, but it doesn't look like functional abdominal pain is going to go away either. I just wish there was a way to bring them together a little more gently......

Sunday, March 22, 2009


Well, spring break has come to its inevitable conclusion. The kids are grumpy and don't want to go to bed at a decent hour; I didn't complete everything I envisioned for the week; I'm not feeling especially cheery at the thought of getting up at the crack of dawn tomorrow to go to work. (Even though the crack of dawn is around 6 AM.)

Please don't misunderstand. I enjoy my job and the students and other teachers with whom I spend my days. Sometimes I just wish I could go back to the time that I was home with my kids and have a "do-over". I also wish I had more time to do the things I want to do (like volunteering, or gardening) rather than the things I MUST do, like pulling weeds and doing laundry. The "want" list gets set aside for the "must" list on an all-too-frequent basis. Welcome to being a grown-up, right? :)

Sorry for the grumps, I'm just feeling a little disgruntled this evening. But tomorrow is another day, even though it's a back-to-work day. Here's hoping for less disgruntled and more cheerful and satisfied tomorrow! :)

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Happy Birthday!

Today is the 10th Anniversary of my dear son's birth. I can't believe it's been 10 years since my ob/gyn greeted him with the words, "Look at the size of those shoulders!" As if I didn't already know how big they were. :)

It's also my niece's 21st birthday...St. Patrick's Day babies abound in my family. There are several more way back in the family tree, apparently.

So happy birthday to my boy, and my brother's "baby" girl who's all grown up, and to the rest of you wee little leprechauns born this day. And no, neither one of them is named after the Good Saint. Though I'm thinking that both of their names are good Irish names and that BOTH of them are blessed with the gift of blarney anyway!

An Irish blessing to one and all:
May your purse be heavy and your heart be light!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Spring Break

Well, it's spring break once again, and I'm left wondering how the heck the year got this far already. I've barely blinked and 3/4 of the school year has passed me by! Geez, how old do I sound? ;)

This means that I have kids who will alternate between wanting to lie in front of the TV/Wii all day long and wanting to be shuttled here, there, and everywhere in between, spending copious amounts of money (mine) while they are out and about. The good news is that beloved Auntie and Uncle are coming for a visit from the frozen upper Midwest, so said relatives may take kiddies to Grandma's house for a couple of days. If only I could get the Navigator replaced and working before they go, I'll feel ever so much better about sending them off!

Yes, that's right.....the glorious, wonderful piece of medical marvelousness that is the Abbott Freestyle Navigator Continuous Glucose Monitor has broken. 4 weeks of use, and the itty-bitty little plastic pin that attaches the transmitter (the permanent part) to the sensor bracket (the replaceable part) has broken off. You'd think that a several-hundred-dollar pieces of technology would be locked in with something more than a 2-cm long plastic nub....nope. I'm not even sure how it broke off, but have to assume that it happened when I was removing the transmitter from the bracket in order to trick it into another 5-day session. Even though we now have insurance coverage for the sensors, I am trying to get as much usage as possible out of *everysingleoneofthem*. Having spent $60+ per sensor out of pocket for the last type we tried, it kills me to remove something that is working fine because the FDA says I have to. :P Guess I'm a little more defiant of authority than I thought I was....

Anyhow, the lovely customer-service folks at Abbott (who are on call 24/7, which amazes me) say that we will have a replacement transmitter by Tuesday, Wednesday before 10 AM at the latest. Which should make it possible for said kiddies to go to grandma's house. Have I mentioned lately how fabulous it is for my kids to be old enough to go off to grandma's and stay for a few days? I know lots of people send their kids off when they are teeny, and it's just fine. Not sure why, but I was always worried about having them go stay the night elsewhere when they were little. I was even concerned about grandma's house, even though I know she would do any- and everything possible to keep them safe and secure, just as the hubby and I would. I suppose some of that worry came from the fact that dh's parents live 2 1/2 hours away from us, so if something should befall them I'm not close enough by to get there quickly.

Anyhow, enough rambling for today. It's going to be 80 degrees outside today, and I should take my pasty white self outside and do something in the sun before it suddenly becomes summer! It will be here in another blink of the eye.....

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Her Dream Assignment - raise T1 awareness

Michelle Rago, awesome CWD mom and photographer extraordinaire, is trying to win a contest at Here is what she says:

I would like to photograph children with Type 1 diabetes doing two things: 1. testing their blood sugar or injecting insulin and 2. doing their favorite thing. I would like to exhibit the photos to raise awareness about Type 1 diabetes.

There are approximately half a million children with Type 1 diabetes worldwide. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease where the child's body thinks that the pancreas is a virus and attacks and destroys it. It is partly genetic and partly triggered by environmental factors, but scientists still do not understand why children develop it and which children will develop it. In today's society where Type 2 diabetes is on the rise due to less than healthy diets and sedentary lifestyles, children with Type 1 are often told that if they had only exercised or eaten better, they would not have developed diabetes. This is not true.

I would like to photograph children with diabetes throughout the world engaging in diabetes-related care taking activities and doing something they enjoy. I believe that an exhibit juxtaposing children engaging in these two starkly different activities will put real faces on the children who suffer from this disease and bring empathy to their plight instead of misunderstanding.

My inspiration for this dream photo shoot comes from raising a son and daughter with diabetes and from the enjoyment I have received taking photographs at Children With Diabetes conferences in the past. I have watched the joy that children receive from having their photos taken and seeing their portraits in print.

I have many contacts in the world of diabetes throughout this country and Italy and South America. I believe that these contacts will help me identify and photograph children readily. I also believe that, as with the Quilt for Life exhibit put on by Children With Diabetes, an exhibit of photographs of children with diabetes will have an impact on funding research for a cure. The award money would go towards my travel and photography expenses. I would hope to find lodging with my diabetes "family" throughout the world in order to minimize costs and allow me to reach as many families as possible.

Please register your email address and vote for Michelle!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Teaching to Excess

Well, the lousy economy has hit the school district. We found out today in a faculty meeting that 2 of our primary grade positions are being "excessed" (cut due to declining funding, meaning much larger classes next year) and that at least 2 other staff members are being RIF'd (Reduction in Force, which is essentially a pink slip). Our school is not taking anywhere near the hit that others are - there are some schools losing up to 20 teachers. That would be almost our entire faculty! The "excessed" teachers will be placed in other spots, but at other grade levels and most likely other schools. RIF'd teachers have to wait to see what positions end up being left open once other shuffles take place; it's based on last-hired, first-fired. In the past, all the RIF'd teachers have been offered positions before the next school year, but many left to take a secured job in other districts. There haven't needed to be RIFs for several years in my district, or in any others around here that I am aware of. The amazing growth of Maricopa County kept schools booming and teaching jobs were plentiful, until the housing market tanked. Now we have too many houses and too many teachers.

I'm thankful to have my position secured after 5 years at my school. However, I am very sad that one of my compatriots will be moving to an intermediate grade and that my lovely little group of 22 second graders will be an oversized class of 30 or more next year. Despite "research" to the contrary, size DOES matter when it comes to teacher/student ratio.

Arizona is the home of the nation's highest kidnapping rate and the nation's 48th-lowest per-pupil funding rate. A correlation between violent crimes and poor education? Fairly well documented. Why can't the "powers that be" see that an investment in kids NOW will pay immeasureable dividends LATER? I'm not saying, "Pay me more money." I'm saying, "Keep teachers in the classrooms so that we have the ability to make a difference!"

Friday, February 20, 2009

Assorted Ramblings

Hello, Gentle Reader. (notice, not plural, because I think there's only one of you out there...which is OK with me.) I am guilty of Blog Neglect, but since I said from the get-go that I knew this would happen, you can't be too upset with me. I hope.

Item 1. Being sick stinks. Being the sick mom stinks more, because the stuff that needs done doesn't magically get done on its own or stop needing to be done. Being a sick schoolteacher mom really, really, stinks, because it requires a lot of planning ahead - and I don't get a lot of personal forewarning that I am going to be sick. Now with the daughter, the blood sugar spikes out of nowhere are a nice warning sign of impending illness....but I don't have it, so no warnings for me. I'm feeling nasty and sorry for myself and cranky and all sorts of unpleasant, so if you want to stop now, that's understandable.

Item 2. I started, with the help of a good friend, trying to rearrange and remove a lot of junk from my house. My dear husband and I come from long, well-established families of pack rats. And when I say pack rats, I mean "keep everything that ever crosses the threshold because we may need it some day or it may be worth money or someone will want it as soon as we purge it" pack rats. We spent a large portion of a lovely, slightly chilly afternoon dragging boxes and piles and bags of stuff out of my living room, and my "guest" room. It hasn't been able to host a guest since the Remodel From Hell began 2 years ago; a good portion of my kitchen is still stored there, or now, in my driveway. Then the sickness descended, and now I have a half-empty room and a half-full carport. Rather than sorting and discarding, I am catching up on blogging. Sensible, no?

Item 3. The long-awaited Navigator arrived, we have been trained, and MissyMiss is now wearing the transmitter on her arm and carrying the receiver in her pocket, ignoring the alarms and setting the language to Czechoslovakian or some other foreign script when I am not around to fix it. We had the trainer come over on Monday, and put in the first sensor. That may not sound like a huge ordeal to anyone who hasn't had to have a fist-sized plastic box pressed up against your abdomen and felt the "cha-thunk" of the wire being injected into the squish of your belly. It did turn out to be less painful that she expected and had worked herself up to fearing, but still wasn't the most pleasant thing ever. By mid-morning Tuesday, it had been dislodged, terrifying MM that she had already broken the system, and causing many levels of consternation and sorrow for her, me, and our wonderful school health tech. When I finally got to see her on Tuesday, I could see that the sensor wire was completely pulled out of her skin, folded under the plastic bracket, and not doing a blooming thing. No wonder the receiver kept trilling at me all afternoon - "Did you insert a new sensor?" - about every 3 minutes.

Wednesday night, I went to bed early in a Nyquil stupor. Dear husband convinced MM to give it another try, using the back of her arm, and HALLELUJAH, it works! We calibrated (using finger pokes to check her actual bg level against the readings), and away it went. For some reason, she had a gap of about 2 hours during school yesterday; I think she ignored a calibration request. Her BG was WELL over 300 for most of yesterday, with the exception of shortly after the soccer game, and the Navigator kept giving the HIGH BG alarms. Well, no kidding! Let's see....should have done a site change a day ago; she skipped it. Should have done some corrections for the highs; skipped them. After getting her to do the site change, do some correcting, and go to bed, I was up every few minutes to look at why it was alarming - HIGH BG. Eventually, I had to turn the alarm off and just kept checking visually. Around 2 AM, when I knew I couldn't stay awake one*more*moment, I did one last finger poke and found she was starting to edge downward, even though the Nav hadn't caught up with it yet. Thank goodness, because I was beyond done for by then. The Nav's graphs show that she started to come down nicely around 3 AM, and was at a lovely 95 at 6:30 when I woke her for school.

Continuous glucose monitors are AMAZING technology, with a steep learning curve. I'm hoping to get the details nailed down in my head soon (thanks to the Yahoo CGMS users' group and the wonderful CWD parents who share their knowledge) and then get her to learn more about it. Unfortunately, when she began pumping, we were the ones with the responsibility of how/what/when to do things. She got accustomed to ignoring the alarms because she didn't know what to do and didn't want to be bothered. I have to get her past that now - she's not 8 any more, and the whole purpose of this is to help HER learn to manage her diabetes while we continue to do our best at playing pancreas for her. I am just sooooooo grateful that we have the insurance coverage to allow us to use this technology; there is not a single, solitary way that we could afford to use it without the insurance. Yes, I pay exorbitant premiums, so I don't feel terribly guilty over using the insurance to access everything I can to make her life easier (and mine, to be perfectly honest) but there is a wee twinge when I see the size of the bills. I also have a great deal of fear over how long this will be covered. Every year, when the school district goes over the insurance contracts, I am scared that our coverage is going to lessen as the premiums go up. I think that is a common fear for parents of CWDs, or other chronic conditions....will we be able to manage our childrens' health as well next year as we can this year?

Item 4. Laundry and assorted other chores await. As I am home sick from work, I should probably be doing things to help myself get well (like napping) if I am not actually doing something "productive".

Item 5.
If you read this far, you deserve a gold star for endurance. Have a great weekend.