Saturday, October 22, 2011

Shout or whisper...

One of the first items I purchased after Sarah was diagnosed with diabetes, was a charm bracelet. It's one of those cute Italian charm bracelets with lots of space for fun charms that represent Sarah. Oh... and it has a medical alert symbol on one of the charms. And as cute as it is, it was a mistake to think it would serve the purpose of a medical alert bracelet.

1. It comes off far too easily.
2. It pinches her arms a bit, and is a little heavy, so she took it off within a few days.
3. It pretty much just looks like a traditional Italian charm bracelet.

The purpose of a medical alert bracelet is to ensure that if you are not able to speak for yourself and tell the paramedics or doctors about a serious medical condition, that they'll be able to figure it out without your help.

Paramedics are trained to look for medical alert bracelets.
Sarah's bracelet
If they're even looking in the first place, you are probably unconscious, and they're trying to save your life - Gulp! If you can't speak, you want your choice in medical alert jewelry to SHOUT for you. "Hey Mr. Paramedic! This person has [insert illness here]!".

The truth is, a medical alert bracelet is like insurance in case of emergency. Most people probably don't end up using it, but it's there if needed. For my fellow mama's with kids with diabetes, there are few times where our kids are out of our sight. Sarah's either with me, or with people who already know she has diabetes, 24 hours per day. Even if she had a severe low at school, at theater practice, at a friends house, the first thing they would tell paramedics is that she's a type 1 diabetic - I have no doubt.

But... (and I hate even writing this, but it needs to be stated) what if she was with me or a friend, and was in a car accident? What if I, or her friend, were not conscious? What if she was unconscious? What if she was unconscious because the stress or adrenaline or circumstances resulted in a dangerously low blood sugar?What if the paramedic who arrived didn't see that she had a medical alert bracelet identifying her as a type 1 diabetic and didn't even know she needed an immediate shot of glucagon?

I love the cute medical jewelry out there, I really do. And I think if your child likes it, and it gets them to wear it, awesome! But keep in mind that the goal of the jewerly is to be seen in case of a serious emergency. What if they're 95% likely to notice a traditional bracelet, but only 70% likely to notice a beaded bracelet. What if they're only 25% likely to notice a woven bracelet?

I don't know why, but it bothers me to think that there's even a CHANCE that a paramedic might overlook Sarah's bracelet, or any other child with diabetes or other illness. So I just urge you to look at your child's jewelry from a paramedics perspective. Is it obviously a medical alert piece? What if it was turned around, would the paramedic know to check the other side by looking at the visable portion?

That's all I wanted to say. This has been bothering me all week since I saw a picture of a bracelet which was totally adorable, but only had one small bead with a medical alert symbol. Please just think about this, and consider whether at that most serious moment, when a paramedics actions could mean the difference between life and death - will your bracelet


or whisper...

In order to improve our ability to help keep Sarah safe, she will soon be getting a diabetes alert dog. If you are interested in helping Sarah with this, please visit her facebook page at or her website at

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Anger Management

I'm really not very good at being angry, but today I feel compelled to write about anger because my friends are hurting.

I know how it feels to feel so scared for a child. That moment when it hits you that your baby, who you cradled, changed diapers, snuggled with, and love with all your heart and soul - has a disease that it incurable and only moderately controllable. A disease that can result in serious complications, illness, and death. That you have the responsibility to not only raise your child to be a good person, a good student, a happy individual, but to also to be a full time Endocrinologist.

Your baby is your superhero, and so their disease becomes the villain in your story. And in our world, our disease is the most important - well, because it's the one attacking our baby!

Sometimes we forget that type 1 diabetes is not the only disease. I read a blog post a week or so ago from a mom who lost her poor little guy to cancer at age 4. Heartbreaking! She couldn't understand why the whole world wasn't rising up to raise funds and find a cure for this disease which primarily kills toddlers and young children. Well, I admit, I haven't given a dime towards this specific cancer. In fact, until I read her blog, I didn't know it existed. And I feel tremendously for this mother. But the truth is, I don't have the funds, time, or energy to support every worthy cause. Does that make it less worthy? No, absolutely not.

But isn't that kind of what we D-Parents expect? That all those people out there, most of whom don't know a soul with type 1 diabetes, will just lay down their worldly goods and follow our superhero straight into the volcano? We expect it because our children don't deserve a disease like type 1 diabetes. They deserve to be healthy and happy and loved and not have a care in the world. But we don't live in a fairytale land, we live in the land of reality - where children and adults are afflicted with diseases which they have some, little, or no control over.

Type 1 and type 2 diabetes are not the same thing - everyone agrees on that point. But they are related in that the treatments are often similar, with similar consequences. Many type 2 diabetics lose a good portion of their insulin producing cells as well. Just because they don't lose all of them doesn't lessen the severity of their disease. In fact, many type 2 diabetes have extreme insulin resistance, which can make it more difficult to manage blood sugar. And guess what? Type 2 diabetes is NOT exclusively a lifestyle disease. I think at least half the type 2 diabetics I know are young and fit. They didn't do anything to deserve diabetes. My own grandfather had type 2 diabetes, as did both of his parents. He was insulin dependent, and lived to a ripe old age while his parents died in their 50's. His diabetes was primarily genetic. Grandpa was always worried about his son and grandchildren, hoping his genes wouldn't condemn them to a life of shots and blood sugar checks. I'm kind of glad he didn't live to see Sarah diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, as I think that would have broken his heart.

Okay... off the ramble. My point is, we're all in this together. And as our world becomes closer through the internet and groups that co-mingle the various types of diabetes, we need to be sensitive and non-judgemental. Yes, your child absolutely didn't do anything to deserve diabetes. But that adult you just dismissed in your head because she's type 2 - does she deserve it any more? And when a child dies from anything it's absolutely tragic. Is it less tragic when a mother dies, leaving children behind? Or when a beloved grandparent dies before their time?

It's so easy to get wrapped up in our own lives and in this disease. Type 1 diabetes turns ordinary moms and dads into ODC maniacs as we struggle to manage this disease. Deaths happen. And no one can tell you how long you or your child will be on this earth - but try not to dwell in the land of what if - it'll make you crazy. Enjoy your life, live the best you can, and respect others for their opinions and what they're going through. If you're angry, let your anger drive you to positive ends. Get out and fundraise. Be an advocate. Mentor a family who doesn't have the resources you do to help them have a better outcome. Hug your child. Weed your garden. Whatever it takes. But before you allow angry words to pass your lips, or fingers, think about why and where you're directing it. Don't hurt someone who is already hurting, struggling with grief, or dealing with challenges you don't understand.

I think I'll go have a cup of tea, hug my child, and sit on my front porch swing soaking up some needed vitamin D now.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

My baby is growing up!

This is the week my baby girl turned 12. I can hardly believe it. It seems like only yesterday she looked like this:
If you don't already know, Sarah is my youngest baby. Her dad and I have been married for nearly 23 years. Her older siblings are adults now, ages 22 and 20. And as hard as it was to see them grow up, I think it's more difficult with Sarah because she's the youngest and my last "baby".

Right now she's in the middle between being a little girl and becoming a young woman. It's hard for me to accept that in few short years, she won't need me so much anymore. I've gotten used to her being my "appendage". She's always been a mama's girl. She and I have been sushi pals since she was 5 and discovered that she loves sushi better than just about anything else (while the rest of the family retches at the thought). She is a musical theater fanatic, just like her mom (only she can actually carry a tune). She has an amazing attitude about dealing with her diabetes; after 18 months it's mostly routine for her and I don't think she thinks about it very much anymore except when she doesn't feel well or when it's time to eat.

And I think one of my favorite things about Sarah is that she takes whatever life throws her way and makes it the best it can be. I won't say she makes lemonaid because she thinks lemonaid is gross, but she goes through life with a smile and a song and doesn't let anything get her down for long. She lives for fun and somehow manages to turn most anything into a fun time.

Tonight I am inspired to write this because today was such a good day. Honestly, I started out kind of grumpy, mostly due to lack of sleep. I have a lot going on at work which I think is taxing my brain, and Sarah's had a few nights of wonky blood sugar so I've been either staying up or setting multiple alarms.

So this morning started out with Sarah going to her theater class. She was also grouchy in the morning because she felt more like staying in, but once she got there she seemed to have a marvelous time. I'll tell you a secret... I left. Yep. I dropped her off, with her bag containing juice, crackers, a test kit and glucagon, and came back and retrieved her three hours later. She was smiling. Today was vocal practice, and even though she wasn't initially thrilled about the part she got in her latest musical, she LOVES to sing and it made her happy.

After practice we went to Bel Air for some sorely needed supplies for her birthday party (primarily vegetables for snacks, and candles for the cake), then to Baskin Robbins so she could pick out an ice cream cake. At home, she and I did some last minute touch-ups on her bedroom (which is closet sized and usually a bit messy) while she sang "Come to My Garden" multiple times as instructed by her voice teacher. Her grandparents, uncle, cousin, and friends Kelsey and Miranda came over to help her celebrate. She had a blast opening gifts, which were primarily clothes and lots and lots of glittery goodness and beautifying thingamajobers.

After the relatives went home, she spent a long time in the front yard swinging, jumping, running, and basically just having a great time. She and her friends made some crafts, watched a stupid movie (with the full intention of making fun of it the whole time, which drove my husband a little mad), and then decided to act and sing (which they're doing right now as I write this).

She had a good day. Happy birthday baby girl. I love you a bazillion!!!