Monday, May 10, 2010

Day 1 – A day in the life . . . with diabetes

Take us through a quick rundown of an average day and all the ways in which diabetes touches it. Blood tests, site changes, high and low blood sugars, meal planning, anything that comes along. This can be a log of an actual day, or a fictional compilation of pieces from many days.

I thought I would do this game show style. Imagine several women have been chosen to compete on a reality show. These women all have Type 1 diabetes given to them for one day. That right there is amazing. If someone could be given this obnoxious disease for one day doesn’t that mean the rest of us can take a day off from it? How awesome would that be?

Anyway, back to D day on

Survivor Diabetes Island for Mothers

The day begins in the middle of the night where the mothers are given one of the following scenarios to deal with.

1. Child waking up in the night to be nursed and/or bottle fed, or is vomiting, or is not breathing from a case of croup. If Mom gets through her situation without low blood sugar, 20 minutes after she falls asleep again she will wake up sweating with her heart pounding out of her chest. Once the low is corrected, sleep will not return until 15 minutes before the alarm goes off for the day. Welcome to motherhood with diabetes!

The mom who tries to tap dry formula in her mouth while her baby drinks the bottle to counteract low blood sugar is disqualified. So is the mom who sucks on the breast milk soaked burp cloth. The mom whose husband feeds the baby a bottle while Mom feeds herself, or feeds Mom brownies glucose tabs while she nurses, gets 50 extra points.

2. The alarm goes off and Mom forces herself out of bed to face the day. She remembers she needs to change her infusion set. If she can do this herself she gets my utmost respect. I am too terrified to do it myself. Like Mos Def’s character in The Italian Job, “I had a bad experience!” So if her husband is like mine and will do it for her, well, she gets 100 extra points right there because diabetes waits for no one, irrational fears and all.

3. Breakfast. Mom gets points added or deducted based on her blood sugar reading and her ability to react to the situation. Her decision will be based mostly on her insulin resistance for this time of day. Many people are very resistant in the morning. Me, I’m now resistant at lunch time. Weird.

4. Get children ready for school all while gussying herself up for the day. If this can be done without anyone yelling for any reason, oh wait. That has nothing to do with diabetes. But that’s kind of the point. I may have diabetes but I’m still a wife, mother, friend, blah blah blah. Life goes on.

5. Drive children to school. The curve ball thrown in here is that Mom can feel her blood sugar dropping. She desperately tries to avoid the gossipy moms who can detain her at school for an hour or more all because they know she’s a SAHM. She carries her cell phone so she can pretend to get an important call “while the phone is on vibrate” or an emergency text even though she doesn’t pay for texting service. Ooh. That mom is smart. She gets at least 30 extra points for her brilliance.

6. The morning continues without incidence. Maybe Mom finds time for exercise, maybe not. As long as the kids are alive and happy it doesn’t matter. Bonus points for Mom who interacts in a meaningful way with her kids. But again, that has nothing to do with diabetes.

7. Lunch. Like breakfast, Mom is awarded points for eating something healthy. Choosing to bolus for Cheetos is frowned upon but not forbidden. She is still a busy mother after all. Cut her some slack.

8. In the afternoon Mom goes to school to pick up her child/children. As she is walking across the schoolyard her preschooler randomly announces, quite loudly I might add, “My blood sugar is low.” Mom knows the child is not diabetic. She tries to downplay the situation by mm hmming. He insists. Mom is starting to get embarrassed because other mothers are looking at her. She finally says, “You shouldn’t talk like that since you don’t have that problem.” Not that I’ve had any experience with this . . .

9. Mom goes on a cleaning frenzy. What will this do to her blood sugar? What will she do about it? What will she say to her children who don’t understand why she gets to eat before dinner?

10. Dinner. You know the drill. But just to throw a wrench in the day of lows, let’s say Mom has a really carb rich dinner.

11. Post dinner test. Oh, was I supposed to mention that Mom tests before and after every meal and anytime she feels crappy in between? Well, she does. And if she does she gets 10 more points. Only 10 because it’s not like testing is hard. If I’m good at doing something I expect everyone else to be too. Just kidding. Anyway, Mom’s blood sugar is higher than a kite. Now what?

12. Mom is awarded points for successfully bringing down her blood sugar post dinner. Mom has points taken away for falling asleep on the couch because of her high blood sugar that is so unresponsive to the corrections she has thrown at it. But is that really fair? Some days diabetes sucks rotten eggs.

13. Eventually Mom goes to bed. Not that it matters. She doesn’t sleep. Diabetes, snoring, and children all take care of any physical need to reach REM. If REM is achieved her vivid dreams can raise or lower her blood sugar. Exercise, like trying to run away but her feet are stuck in sand, will lower it. Eating chocolate cake will raise it. And yes, we are still talking about dreams.

The mother with the most points wins. But they’re all winners because once the game is over they go back to their normal, non diabetic lives. The rest of us try to balance real life with the demands of a disease that has no cure. Only ways to cope and manage. On the bad days I like to watch this video.

On the good days I quote Spongebob Squarepants. spongebob

Yes, I realize the blanket was attached to the door backwards. Like diabetes, it is what it is.


  1. I just loved this! You have a lot on your plate and are handling it in such a fun to read way :) Thank you for the insight - my 12 year old son has had t1 for one year.

  2. Oh my gosh - I probably shouldn't say this, but this is my favorite post of the whole day!!! And I've almost worked my way through all 100+ of them. So if I'm not supposed to play favorites (because a reality show mom would get pointed deducted for having a favorite child), too bad!! Great post!!!! :)

  3. firedancermom, thank you for the compliment. My personal opinion is that it is easier to be a diabetic boy than a diabetic girl. But your son may disagree! Just remind him that he has diabetes, it does not have him.

    Karen, I was proud of this post but wow! I am humbled and honored to be your secret favorite . . . so far. The last few you have to read may surprise us all. No pressure on me the rest of the week, right?

  4. Hi Tristan,

    I'll begin by admitting that I have basically zero knowledge of diabetes, what causes it, or the effect that it has on people. I was going to look it up, but decided not to because I can see from my reader that you are writing a week's worth of posts on the subject. So I'll just follow along and see what I can learn from you.

    You seem to have to monitor and react to your blood sugar level constantly throughout the day and evening. The monitoring alone must make this difficult to deal with, but I get the impression that the remedies to the sugar level are hit or miss. Is that so?

    In the absence of testing, can you determine if the way you feel at any point in the day is related to the diabetes or to a routine change in mood or energy?

    As I mentioned, I don't know what I'm talking about on this subject, so please excuse any of the questions that may seem dumb. This is obviously a big part of your life, so I am interested in learning more about it. Ray


Now that I've shared my thoughts, what are your thoughts?