I have to stay focused on the thing in front of me, because everything else is too scary. When she is high, I have this gnawing ache of indecision, to treat or not to treat, ride it out and risk the long-term complications, the result of the sugar ravaging her kidneys and other organs, or treat and risk the crash the smallest unit of insulin can cause in a body so tiny. When she goes low, a friend, another mom of another small person with type 1 diabetes (T1D), described it best. Imagine your kid running out into the street. Imagine that. That’s how it feels and that’s how it is when she drops. Now imagine that over and over again. Now imagine that 45 minutes after you drop her off at preschool. Now imagine that 15 seconds after she jumps in the pool for a swim lesson. Now imagine that in the middle of the night. Now imagine that right now.
When she’s stable for a few hours, or even a few days, it isn’t any better. Then it is the crippling anxiety of what am I going to do to fuck this up? Will it be the extra bite of carrot, or the badly timed injection? Or maybe her swim lesson eighteen hours earlier will cause a low, or a growth spurt will cause a high, or the wind will shift and her pancreas will decide to work for an afternoon or a day or maybe even two? (Did you know that when a child hits REM sleep their body will flood with growth hormone? Did you know that growth hormone will make the body more insulin resistant? Now you do.)
So I just do the thing in front of me. I assemble the food. I give the shot. I drive to school. I count the carbs. I treat the high. I kiss the boo boo. I treat the low. I fold the clothes. I give the shot. I change the diaper. I treat the high. I broker the peace treaty. I test the blood. I do the art project. I change the site. I read the book. I treat the low. I treat the high. I treat the low. I treat the high. I lie in bed. I don’t sleep, not really. Somewhere in there, I remember when there were big plans, big dreams, things that didn’t involve tiny shoes, diapers, or blood glucose numbers, especially blood glucose numbers, but then, an alarm goes off and I’m back to the thing in front of me. Treat the low. Treat the high. Change the diaper. Assemble the food. Count the carbs. Take a deep breath.
Remember that this is a moment in time, that someday soon it will feel safe to look farther out than the thing in front of me, but for now, soothe the baby. Hold the little one, whose body has betrayed her. Kiss the child. Breathe them in. Treat the low.
This story is the fifth installment of a series entitled “New Normal” from Kate Felton’s blog, Not Sure How Today Ends. Read the other installments of Kate’s New Normal series: