Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Batter Up

My sister played fastpitch softball for many years. She was a pitcher, & despite some protesting at times, I usually enjoyed watching her on the mound. She was good. She possessed three things every fastpitch softball pitcher needs: control, accuracy, & a stellar game face that rarely hinted at her emotional state. There are numerous images I can call to mind of a batter lurching awkwardly forward, the tip of her bat falling & stirring up some dirt, realizing a split second too late that Jessica had thrown a change-up. She expected speed. She was prepared for a ball that might barely graze the outside corner of the plate. She was poised to guard the plate, but, more often than not, the change-up, a pitch that Jessica delivered with the same physical fervor as a fastball, caught her opponent completely off guard.

I thought about these startled batters this past week more than once. Last Thursday, we learned Reagan has Type 1 Diabetes.

It was absolutely the furthest thing from my mind when I woke Thursday. I am unsure of where to even begin relaying all this, as I am still processing it myself. There were some signs, in hindsight, that we initially attributed to a slight cough & some congestion she had for which I took her to the doctor on Tuesday of last week. She was tired. She was sickly. She was a little pale. She had visibly lost a little weight. She had taken a serious interest in drinking.

Thursday morning, Trey decided to take her to see another doctor, an ENT, to see what he thought. I wanted to give her another day on the antibiotic she'd been prescribed Tuesday to see if there was any improvement, but thankfully Trey didn't listen to me. I left Henry with my mom & taught my first class at Delta while Trey took Reagan to the doctor. About the time my class ended, Trey texted me & said to call him re:Reagan. I knew before speaking to him that we were likely headed to the ER.  When Trey confirmed this, I cancelled my next two classes & hurried to the hospital.  

The ENT doc was worried about meningitis. The ER doc said her lack of fever indicated to him that she likely didn't have meningitis, & that he wanted to rule many other things out before subjecting her to a spinal tap to test for meningitis. So, we sat around anxiously in the ER for awhile. They swabbed her nose & throat to test for flu & strep, both of which were negative. Her lungs sounded clear, but a possible walking pneumonia diagnosis was thrown around for a bit.   

My mother had driven to the hospital with Henry so that I could nurse him, & when I stepped out into the hall to go do that, the nurse asked me if Reagan had ever had any blood work done. She then told me they were going to rerun the blood work because her blood sugar level was over 630 & that had to be a mistake. When I heard that, I knew. The excessive thirst, the weight loss, etc. I felt like I was standing in a pool of light & a choir was singing in the background. 

I was saddened & relieved at the same time. I knew what a diabetes diagnosis meant, but I was also glad to have an answer, & to know that while there is no cure for Type 1 Diabetes (something several of the medical professionals we dealt with feel will happen in Reagan's lifetime), it is manageable. I didn't say anything to anyone, I just went & nursed Henry & then returned to Reagan's room, but when the numbers came back a second time, the blood sugar was again extremely elevated. When the ER doc asked us to sit down, I didn't panic because I knew what he was going to tell us.    

We were moved to a room in the pediatric ICU so that Reagan could be closely monitored while they intravenously gave her fluids to rehydrate her & insulin to slowly, safely normalize her glucose levels. By Friday, her blood work showed she was clear of the dangerous acids that had begun building as a result of her body's insulin deprivation. She soon looked like herself, & by Saturday she was free of the IV & receiving the insulin she needs via shots. 

I know, it sounds terrible, but it's not that bad. We all gathered in her room at ten Saturday morning to learn how to give her the shots. Actually, my dad was absent because he was keeping Henry. That's the number one sign of a family emergency: my dad was keeping Henry. Trey & I gave each other shots, & our moms practiced on each other. My FIL was there too, though curiously I don't think he actually received a shot. Something about his long sleeve shirt. . . Anyway, after receiving one myself I felt much better about things. If you didn't see someone giving you the shot, you would never know you got one. Sunday morning we reconvened to learn how to use a lancet to prick her finger in order to obtain the droplets of blood necessary to check her blood sugar, something we currently do in the neighborhood of five or six times a day, which seems infrequent now after the hourly prick that was necessary for the first twenty-four hours of hospitalization.       

I've been so busy shuttling between our house & the hospital, where we received constant education about how to care for Reagan, that I haven't had much time to wallow in feelings of guilt for not realizing my child was dehydrated & her body was slowly shutting down because she doesn't produce the insulin required to convert her food to energy.  The nurses' shifts run 7 to 7, but Trey & I opted for more of a 9 to 9 schedule.  I slept at home with Henry, awoke to hand him over to a grandparent, & then went to relieve Trey from the night shift.  Whatever you've done in your life that was hard &/or frustrating, I bet it didn't involve an infant who expects to nurse a few times a day & a diabetic three-year-old who's in the PICU, a place children under twelve are not welcome.  Yeah.

Though no one wants to see their three-year-old in the hospital, I can't say enough wonderful things about the PICU doctors & nurses. The nurse who oversees diabetes education came in on the weekend - on Saturday & on Sunday - to talk with us. The nurses who routinely had to prick Reagan's finger & administer her shots were great with her, & excellent teachers when it came time to shift the shot duty to those of us who are Reagan's caretakers. I also can't say enough fabulous things about my parents & my in-laws. Irritatingly, I kept thinking of Hillary Clinton's "it takes a village." I don't know about a village, but it did take all six of us. Seven, actually, because Reagan's Aunt Deni also made regular hospital visits & helped to babysit Henry.

Life is, & will always be, a bit different for us now. A whole kiwi is not simply a piece of fruit; it is a piece of fruit that equals ten total carbohydrates. Eight ounces of milk contains 12 total carbohydrates; this was probably the first one I memorized. It's amazing what I've learned in less than a week. In the process of learning how to properly determine the amount of insulin Reagan needs, I've also seen a crystal clear picture of why it's a bad idea to consume copious amounts of carbs, particularly those that quickly raise the blood sugar, like white bread & pasta & sugary drinks, which is basically any drink other than water, milk, & unsweetened tea & coffee. When you have to account for every carb that your child ingests, & then inject her with the needed insulin her body requires to convert the carbs to energy, you realize what you're asking your own body to do when you down a large fry (& why asking it to do this too often can lead to your body quitting on you earlier than you'd prefer).  

All carbs are not created equal, either. White bread is converted to sugar almost as quickly as syrup, whereas whole wheat bread slowly makes its way through the body, causing no rapid rise in blood sugar. So we're counting carbs to calculate insulin intake, but we're also shying away from things that cause rapid rises in sugar levels. It's these rapid rises that, over time, cause damage to blood vessels, leading to numerous other problems. It's possible all four of us will live longer, healthier lives now.  

I don't know what all this means for the blog. I am sure I'll find a way to ramble on about things at times, but in addition to all the stuff I was doing before, I am now functioning as my daughter's pancreas & I've no idea yet how this new role will affect other areas of my life. I am learning quickly, so we'll see. 

I may never again blog about the outside world. I know that the teams who're to play in the Super Bowl have been determined, but I'm not certain which teams won their respective divisions. I think a Manning is involved. I know that David Vitter has decided to run for governor of Louisiana next year.  Not sure how I feel about that one, & I doubt I'll take any time to form an opinion about the matter. I assume Obama hasn't been impeached . . . if he is, it's your job to let me know. I have to shift some responsibilities.
I'll close with a few pictures of Reagan's adventure.

Late Thursday & most of Friday Reagan told us she was hungry. This was a good sign, but they didn't want her eating until her blood was clear of all the mess that had been building up. Soooooo we did everything under the sun to distract her . . .

With her Nana & the new stickers her Aunt Donna brought her:

This was her first meal. She ate & ate & ate. Thankfully a lot of what she ate was chicken, which is pretty much a freebie when it comes to counting carbs.

One of many trips she made up & down the PICU hall with her balloons.  Once she got some insulin in her, she was back to her glorious self: 

Reagan's hospital stay did wonders for her Hello Kitty collection:

The large Hello Kitty in the pics is from her Aunt Kathy, who lives in Dallas.  Kathy called the Build-A-Bear store in the Pecanland Mall & went several rounds with one of their employees over Hello Kitty's attire. Once that was decided, Kathy was informed that Build-A-Bear doesn't deliver. The Build-A-Bear employee was informed that Kathy's three-year-old great niece was in PICU after a diabetes diagnosis. The Build-A-Bear employee made a trip to St. Francis when she got off work that afternoon; I will track her down in the mall one day & shake her hand.  

Reagan with her Barbie cards her other Aunt Donna brought her:

And, perhaps Donna's greatest gift ever, this slinky that Reagan loved. It has seen every inch of the PICU hall:

Her Aunt Deni took this. I think this was the last meal she ate before we took her home. The doctor told me Monday that he'd have to discharge her or move her to a room on the regular floor, because she was making for a poor PICU patient:

Thank you for the prayers I know many of you prayed for her. She is doing well, & I am beginning to pick my bat up off the plate, & my jaw off the floor. We'll be seeing a pediatric endocrinologist in Jackson soon (you didn't think there'd be one of those in Monroe, did you?). Continued prayers are much appreciated. Anyone reading who has experience with Type I Diabetes, your thoughts, & any advice you have, are welcome. Comment on the blog, on Facebook, or send me a message.  


Monday, January 13, 2014

Label Me Slow

Do office supplies excite you?  Is a new label maker all it takes to significantly improve your week?  Did you strongly identify with Monica on Friends?

If you answered yes to any of the above, you understand my elation over the recent realization that I can create labels on my blog.  It may've taken me nearly three years, but I've not only figured out how it works, I've been busy making up for lost labeling time.  If you're an observant reader, you might've already noticed the cluster of random links to the right.  So far I've created twenty-four labels, but that number is sure to rise.  I may try & broaden my blogging horizons just so I can create new labels with which to tag the posts.  Right now I am contemplating a 'Label' label that I can file this post under.

I print the blog at the end of every year, & one day last week I was reading through my posts from Christmas 2012 & trying to figure out which post closed out that year's book so I'd know where to begin printing the 2013 book.  Feeling a bit sentimental, I wanted to reread what I'd blogged about Christmas 2011 & look back at the pictures of Reagan, & I thought to myself, "Wouldn't it be nice if there were an easy way to organize this blog based on topic?"  And then I remembered seeing just such an organizational system on other blogs I read.  I visited those blogs, did a bit of googling, & soon had created label after label with which to tag all my previous posts.  

The new labels on the blog are about it for excitement lately.  In the interest of tagging this post with the 'Home improvement' label, I will give my husband a richly deserved shout out on the blog.  Trey spent a great deal of Saturday hanging curtain rods - four curtain rods - , which is no easy task in a house with twelve foot ceilings, an anal retentive woman who's short on sleep, two helpless kids, & a small dog.  Oh, & a Saints game on TV.

We began Saturday by dropping Trey's truck off at Goodyear for an oil change.  If you're interested in the story of Trey's last oil change, check under the label Dumb ideas 'Home improvement/Hobbies.'  Once the truck was safely deposited at Goodyear, we headed to the drive-thru window at Zaxby's to get lunch.  If you were out & about in West Monroe on Saturday, you may've noticed this trailer, pictured below, right off of Highway 80 near Well Road.

Yes, that is Trey pictured with the trailer.  Opting not to eat his usual fried chicken, he had me leave Zaxby's & make two left turns to return to this trailer so he could get some BBQ nachos for lunch.  He said something about this being the way all the guys on Pitmasters do it.  I just kept my mouth shut, made the two left turns, & let him enjoy his nachos.  This is what marriage is about: keeping your thoughts to yourself when your husband decides it's a great idea to buy BBQ from a roadside trailer because you want him to hang your curtain rods.

Two of the rods were hung in the dining/kitchen area:      

Pay no attention to the toys you see in this photo . . . imagine me in a cozy chair, a book in my hand & a smile on my face:

The other two rods were hung in our bedroom for these sheers I decided I wanted to hang about five minutes after we moved in the house two years ago:

And, because a few of you actually asked about it, here's the new rug I mentioned last week:

 In addition to hanging the curtain rods, Trey also hung my new chalkboard from Pottery Barn.  They may charge an arm & a leg to ship things, but Pottery Barn goes above & beyond sometimes & reminds me of why I became a fan in the first place.  This chalkboard is magnetic & comes with six cute off-white magnets that match the off-white wooden frame AND an off-white magnetic eraser with a groove for the chalk.  Between the new chalkboard & my blog labels, I feel so, so organized.  Sophie may benefit most of all, since the chances of her suffering from heartworms in the future have been reduced.  You might notice the second item on the list reads: Feb 1: Sophie heartworm.

Yesterday, nearly a week after he hit the seven month mark, I took Henry's seven month pics (which of course means this post will be neatly filed away under the 'Henry' label).

So, we took Henry's seventh month pics on Sunday in his sweater vests.  Perhaps an Alliteration label is needed?

Sunday AM:

Sunday PM . . . I got a few decent pics with the '7' before he discovered it:

Seven is a sumptuous month:

 In closing, thank you for the kind words about the book, which I began posting Friday.  This links to chapter one.  Chapter two will be up this Friday, & of course, once they're posted, links to each chapter can be found by clicking on the Dear Miss Moreau label.  I may have to write another book, because of course that would mean . . . another label.  Also, I lied to you.  I told you there were twenty-nine chapters, & that's not true.  I went through the whole word document this weekend, & there are thirty chapters.  So that's one more week you'll have to wait to read the ending.  

I must go now.  Tomorrow I begin another semester of teaching, which requires a little mental preparation on my part.  Mental preparation, strooong coffee, & clothing that can't double as pajamas.  As of my last check, all three of my sections are sitting at -2 available seats on the online schedule of classes, which means the registrar is overloading them.  Perhaps soon, an ANGER label.  


Monday, January 6, 2014


Happy New Year!

First things first, did anyone get an email alerting you to a new blog post, namely this one?  I have no NSA connections, so while I know some have submitted their email address requesting blog updates, I have no idea who you are.  If no one's getting emails, I've done something wrong & will have to figure out exactly what.  More on other blog matters momentarily.

I have a dear friend whose mother once said that the first year of a baby's life is all about maintenance.  I've been thinking about her statement a lot lately.  It seems everything worth having requires maintenance - the kids, the house, the car, the dog.  If it weren't for me, our dog would die of starvation &/or dehydration.  Last month, for the first time in seven years, I forgot to give Sophie, our dog, her heartworm pill on the first day of the month.  I was done with my teaching duties & not thinking about the calendar, & for almost two weeks I didn't realize I'd forgotten to give her the pill.  Everyone assured me it would be fine to give it to her two weeks late (& by everyone I mean Google).  One day this week a cute, shiny new chalkboard from Pottery Barn will arrive that I plan to hang near my desk so that I have a large, visible space on which to jot myself reminders.  I've always been pretty good at remembering things, but as I age, sleep less, & the number of those who depend on me to remember things rises, I've decided my head is no longer sufficient.  Naturally the solution is to order something from Pottery Barn.

Between the kids & the dog, I rarely go a week without having to take someone somewhere to get a shot.  Many days I feel like life is what happens not when I'm busy making other plans, as the saying goes, but in the few moments I am not performing my maintenance duties.  Every morning, I do the following, usually before I've even hit the power button on my Keurig: change Henry's diaper, make sure Reagan has used the potty, fix Reagan's milk, feed Sophie, & refill her water dish.  Then I do a sweep of the house to see if there are any fun urine-related overnight surprises that require immediate attention.  I don't want to complain, but this is a lot for someone who hasn't had coffee yet & currently averages between four & five hours of sleep a night.

When you live with two small kids & a small dog who all depend on you for food, water, shots, regular grooming, toiletry concerns, & also expect you to squeeze some playtime in, other less consequential matters quickly fall by the wayside.  If everyone is alive & clean & dry at the end of the day, you consider the day a success even if you didn't shower, sit down to eat a meal, or do anything to engage in adult-level activities, like read a book with no pictures or ponder the national debt.

I'd like to take a minute, before a dirty diaper or an empty water bowl beckon, & address an idea I have for the blog this year.  Blog maintenance, if you will.  You may recall, or actually you likely don't, that one of my goals for last year was to reread, further edit, & print out the book I wrote (if you're a new reader to the blog, to bring you up to speed, I wrote a book awhile back - - it was when I had one child).  I did do all those things.  I gave the printed copy to a friend who is a voracious reader & whose opinion I value, & she's the only person who's read the book in its entirety.  The story kind of sputters at this point.  We intended to meet for coffee & discuss the book - - what she hated, what she loved (if anything!), what made her laugh, etc.  Like me, she has two young children, & so we've yet to sit down & chat about the book.

In February of last year, I briefly explained the process of attempting to find & secure a literary agent.  Here's that post, if you're dying for a reread.  I did send a query letter to five literary agents, & I  received five polite "thank you, but no thanks" emails.  All of this took place in the months before Henry's birth, & I haven't given any of it much thought since.  I was in no way dismayed by their responses, & was banking on no one biting since I was about to give birth & not in any position to begin the rigorous rounds of editing & revising & negotiating that the publishing process demands.  Looking back, the query letter I wrote is less than stellar.  I have no idea when or if I'll send out further queries, but it won't be anytime soon because at present I cannot even recall half of the events in the book.  Yes, the book I wrote.

This is where you come in.  Do you want to read it?  I am entertaining the idea of posting a chapter or two online every month.  This will provide me with a schedule & with deadlines, which is what I need to go back through, reread, & change up some things that need to be tweaked.  I think I can manage a chapter or two a month, notwithstanding Henry's unpredictable sleeping habits.  By unpredictable, I mean that he just doesn't sleep much, ever, at all, with any regularity that affords me adequate sleep.

I thought about setting up a blog for the book, but then I realized I can create pages on this blog, basically like tabs.  You've probably seen these on every other website/blog out there that's more sophisticated than mine, which is all of them.  So, my extremely focused blogging about my kids & what I've bought at Target lately will continue right here, as always, & if you've no interest in the book, you simply don't click over.

My guess is that there is a small handful of you who fall into what a publisher would term my 'target audience.'  The thing is, I did zero research about 'target audiences' before or during the process of writing the book.  I wrote it for myself.  It was a book I wanted to read, & I thoroughly enjoyed writing it (& I'm looking forward to rereading it, as some of it will be fresh content for even me!).  It's fiction; I created a little world where I went & dabbled around when I had the chance to escape.  Since first mentioning the book on here, several of you've expressed a desire to read it, & I'd like to make that happen if you'll do something for me.  I need eyes that are fresher than mine to peruse the book.  This is your chance to correct me!  If you take the time to read, & you see a misspelled word, or a grammatical error (yes, I do make them), or anything that seems amiss, let me know.  If you love something or someone, tell me.  If you despise something or someone, tell me.  Comment on the post, or contact me through this blog.  Finally, do not feel you must read it because you're my mom, & don't assume that because you find the blog mildly interesting you will enjoy the book.  The book & the blog intersect in only a few areas, namely things with which I am a little obsessed, like literature, coffee, & Target.

I am genuinely curious about your interest in what I've proposed.  Let me know what you think.  I've reread the first chapter recently & can post it soon (as soon as I nail down how to create a page within this blog for the book, that is).  One reason I hadn't seriously entertained the idea of posting the book online was copyright issues.  After a bit of research, I've learned that anything I post on the blog is automatically copyrighted.  Neat, right?  To fully cover my rear, I've signed up with iCopyright Content Services.  Their nifty toolbar is displayed at the bottom of the page now.  I say all this to let you know that I don't care if you 'share' a blog on Facebook, or forward something to a friend, etc.  Do it!  Knock yourself out.  This blog isn't monetized, & I maintain it simply for pleasure & because it's a fantastic way to maintain a record of my children's early years (& other important happenings like my Pottery Barn purchases).  I don't want my book swiped, however, thus the newfangled toolbar on the page.      

I realize I've laid a lot on you in this first post of 2014.  I promise frivolity in the next post, which is likely to be the results of my seven month photo shoot with Mr. Henry, who officially hits the seven month mark on this coldest of Mondays.  I hope you're nestled in somewhere today.  In preparation for today's high of thirty-one degrees, Saturday evening I went to the grocery store & bought a roast to put in the crock pot this morning.  There's nothing better than staying in on a cold day & piddling around the house while a roast & carrots & potatoes simmer in the crock pot.  I thought it was fitting since Deni, my SIL, gave me my crock pot when Trey & I got married & tonight, her alma mater will represent the SEC in the national title game.  Ok, it's a loose association, but go with it.  I am so happy for Deni & I'll be cheering for the Auburn Tigers tonight.  After all, the SEC could use another bowl win considering someone's defeat in the Sugar Bowl.  Speaking of sugar, I also bought extra milk, cocoa, & sugar at the store Saturday & have been drinking hot chocolate almost constantly since having my first cup of coffee this morning.  Henry's going to be drinking syrup for days to come.

I'll likely perform my morning maintenance routine in my black winter robe tomorrow; regardless of who takes home the crystal football, the day after the NCAA football championship is a dark day for me.  I invite you to join me in wearing black tomorrow to mourn the end of the college football season. It's been a great one.

So, add these items to your maintenance list:

-let me know your interest level in reading the book
-stay warm
-cheer for the SEC Auburn tonight
-wear black tomorrow

One more thing.  A friend of mine who regularly reads this blog has recently been diagnosed with cancer.  She's awaiting test results after surgery & her doctors are determining how best to proceed with her treatment.  If you don't do anything else I've suggested, add her to your prayer list.  Thanks so much.