Part Four: All The Things I Thought I Knew
There used to be constants. There were touchstones in my life. There were things I knew. There used to be things I knew. Some were concrete and some have always been more ephemeral. I thought I knew how to make dinner. I don’t anymore. I thought I knew what it meant to be a good parent. I now, don’t even have any clue how I would begin to make that judgment about myself, much less about anyone else. I thought everyone should sleep in their own bed. I don’t anymore (think that, or, quite frankly, do it). I thought my kids would be the lucky ones. That is the lie we tell ourselves so that we, the parents, can go on living. My kids will be fine. They won’t get hurt. They won’t get sick.
Until, they do.
Tonight, almost four months post diagnosis (dx), we had our first major “dinner is yucky and I can’t eat it or I might die” moment. I’m honestly surprised it took this long. Pre-T1D, I would have taken a deep breath and launched into, “I’m sorry you are disappointed with your choices for dinner tonight, but if you are hungry I would suggest that you take some bites and see if there is anything on the plate that you might want to eat. I will not force you to eat anything, but there will be no other food available until breakfast tomorrow.” This was a thing I thought I knew. She could eat the dinner that was served, or she could go to bed a little hungry.
But tonight, my brain was racing and my heart was pounding. I knew her finger prick reading was in the low range and the continuous glucose monitor (more on that later) was trending down, and she had already had several lows today. You see, P is honeymooning. That is the term that the endocrinologists use to describe what happens to the newly-diagnosed when their pancreases, or more specifically, their few remaining islet cells kick back on for a bit, once the synthetic insulin is introduced and the stress on the system decreases. It doesn’t mean that she is going to get better. It just means that we have to stay really flexible with our treatment protocol, because we never know when or why tiny P’s tiny pancreas is going to try to “help” and kick out a bunch of extra insulin and possibly send her plummeting to seizure/commaville. Long story, short: she needed to eat something, preferably a slow carb, preferably soon. I thought about yogurt, an easy sell. I thought about peanut butter, a sure favorite. I considered the juice boxes tucked away in the wine cabinet. (Yes, we have a cabinet FULL of wine. Don’t judge.)
And then, I took a deep breath and said, “I’m sorry you are disappointed with your choices for dinner tonight, but if you are hungry I would suggest that you take some bites and see if there is anything on the plate that you might want to eat. I will not force you to eat anything, but there will be no other food available until breakfast tomorrow.” I did this while doing another finger prick to confirm her blood sugars were not dangerously low and while putting a half ounce of peanuts on her plate, but I said it. I like to think that I said it calmly and with the strength and surety that P needed to understand that this was a limit, that she was safe because mom and dad had it under control.
She wailed and sobbed and I held her and repeated, “I hear that you are not happy with what we made for dinner tonight. We can try again tomorrow, but tonight, this is dinner and if you are hungry, I suggest you try some bites,” all while anxiously checking her number on the continuous glucose monitor (CGM). It felt important, this pre-T1D parenting approach, in a post type 1 diabetes (T1D) world. I was running contingencies in my head the entire time and was just about to call it quits and settle on a yogurt after bedtime stories, hoping it would be a long enough window that she didn’t associate it with dinner, when she said, “Maybe avocado isn’t yucky anymore.”
I let her sit on my lap, while I fed her dinner, something I would never have done before, and she ate. She ate the whole plate, while we laughed and chatted. 130 even, cruising into bedtime (This is real good, kind of like our blood-sugar-night-time sweet spot). So, maybe I still know some things, and maybe, some of the things I’m learning are even more important.