Someone posted today on Facebook asking us to share what we think diabetes feels like. I said that it's about learning to live in that gray area. Diabetes is not a black and white thing. There are no clear cut answers on how to manage it. We have to roll with the punches and somehow make it work.
Something happened today that rocked me to my core. We've been doing this for a while now, so I have rolled with the punches and somehow learned to keep my daughter alive. Today however, I had a slap in the face reminder that no matter how much I prepare or how many shreds of confidence I have managed to pluck back from diabetes greedy hands, shit still happens.
Emma and I decided to walk to Dairy Queen after dinner and get some ice cream. The weather was beautiful and we spent much of the afternoon outside enjoying the sunshine and playing soccer in the backyard. I've been battling lows all day today because of the extra activity and the nice weather...but before we left on our walk...I did what I always do...I checked her blood sugar and grabbed 4 fruit snacks to bring with in case of lows. She was at a decent blood sugar and using my d-mom crystal ball...I assumed that I might need to use at the most...1 of those fruit snacks on our journey. I brought 3 extras...just in case. Since it was a nice day, I didn't want to lug around my big purse and decided to simply bring the essentials...money, blood sugar meter, keys, and snacks.
As we reached the halfway point on our walk...which just so happens to be the playground at Emma's school...she turned to me and said she felt low. We stopped and checked...and I was stunned to see a 2.2 staring back at me on the screen of the meter and she still had 3 units on board. Emma sat down on the ground, I gave her fruit snack #1, turned off her pump, and felt the old familiar icy cold panic settling into my heart. I managed to get her over to the bench next to the climbing structure and she sat down. The tears began to flow....she was beginning to panic. Emma doesn't normally panic or cry over lows. She usually eats or drinks juice...talks to me while she waits for that low feeling to go away...and we carry on. This time though...it was different. I handed her fruit snack #2 and she wolfed it down between sobs. I felt that ball of icy fear growing inside me. Fear was settling into every bone of my body...and I was stunned to hear my own voice come out sounding so calm and rational and soothing to her. I was telling her that it would be ok...she would be fine...we always get it back up...and she is always fine...we would be ok...don't worry. I checked her blood sugar again at that point...still low. I handed her fruit snack #3 as I felt the fear spilling over and coming out in hot tears from my own eyes. Emma wolfed down the fruit snack and began sobbing uncontrollably saying how she was scared she was going to die. I removed her sunglasses from her pale tear streaked face so I could see her eyes...because I can always see the lows in her eyes...her beautiful brown eyes...her vacant sugar deprived stare...lost in her own world of chaos and fear for her own life...she's 9 by the way...did I mention that she's only 9 years old? There sat my 9 year old girl sobbing uncontrollably telling me that she was afraid she was going to die. Die. Because of diabetes....the look in her eyes and the words that fell from her panicked lips....it broke me.
I felt like I was in fight or flight mode. I am her Mommy. I am the one who is supposed to save her...supposed to help her...supposed to make the panic go away...I'm supposed to make it all better...kiss it and make it better...make it go away. I looked around me and in a span of 30 seconds I thought....I could pick her up and run down the street and bang on someone's front door and ask for juice...ask for help....I could pick her up and run back home...I could pick her up and run the rest of the way to Dairy Queen...I could find a rock or use my fists to punch the glass. On the window of her school and break into her classroom and take some of the stockpiles of juice boxes or candy that is in her classroom...sure the police would come...sure I would be in trouble...but my kid would be alive....I could call 911....I could call a friend....yes...txt a friend...txt my friend that lives down the street because I saw her van parked in her driveway as we started out on our walk..so I know she is home. Checked Emma again...still low...handed her fruit snack #4 and texted my friend....can you pick us up at the school? She's super low and I'm scared to walk her back home and I'm out of juice. She texted me back immediately and said she was on her way.
I spent the next two minutes it took for her to get there with a sick feeling in my stomach. There I was ...with no snacks left...no possible way of helping my child...I was helpless...out of control...empty. I did what I always do in moments of panic and stress for Emma...I tried to make her laugh. I had nothing else left...nothing....except my ability to make her smile in spite of it all. It was all I had.
My friend arrived with juicebox in hand and a worried look on her face. She saved us. She saved my daughters life. I needed her...Emma needed her...and she came...in an instant...and she brought juice...and when I explained what we were doing at the school and how we were on our way to Dairy Queen....she told Emma that we should still go. I don't know if she knows how much it meant to Emma to still go to Dairy Queen...but I know it meant the world. Emma was sad...disappointed...mad at diabetes for ruining her chance to go to Dairy Queen...and my friend took us there anyway. We went together...had our treats....talked...laughed...and had a good time.....diabetes didn't win.
How do you thank someone for saving your child's life? How do you find the right words to make them understand how greatful you are for their presence in your life? I don't think that there are words available. All I can think of is thank you....and that seems so lame in comparison. I love her. I know Emma loves her. She was our hero today. She saved my daughters life. She was standing there right along side Emma and I and she helped us knock diabetes down to the ground.
So, while the tears fall as I type this.....they are no longer tears of panic...but rather tears of indescribable gratitude. Gratitude for my friend...gratitude for the ability to roll with the punches and make it through this moment alive...and gratitude for the chance to hug my daughter extra hard and kiss her cheeks a few extra times when I kissed her goodnight at bedtime tonight.