Monday, October 17, 2016


Hello, hello from your favorite thirty-six-year-old blogger. Where to begin? I suppose with who had most recently vomited when last I blogged. Ah, that would be Trey. After succumbing to the vicious stomach bug (that would eventually cut a wide, ruthless path of destruction through our home), Trey returned to his parents' house (where, if you recall, he'd spent the weekend with Henry, Victim No. 1, in hopes of sparing Reagan, also known as Victim No. 3).

Trey spent all day Monday & Monday night at his parents' house while I held down the fort at home with the two small children. I was a little melancholy over the turn Fall Break had taken, but like a complete fool I thought perhaps we were over the vomit hump, & as a bonus, the kids & I still had one more day of Fall Break to enjoy before returning to school.

As is their habit when Trey isn't at home (which is usually because he is traveling for work, not quarantined at his parents' house), both the kids climbed in bed with me & Sophie the dog Monday night. Sophie & the kids fell asleep around ten o'clock; I ordered a pair of boots online to soothe my Fall-Break-vomit-woe, & then attempted to sleep. 

I'm not sure if I ever fell asleep. In retrospect (& in light of the backache / back spasms that plagued me at the end of last week), I now realize that while I was eating & sleeping & ordering boots & going through the motions last week, I wasn't really living at all; I was tensed & ready for Reagan to vomit, & at a little after two in the morning on Tuesday, she did.

She sat up in bed & I knew. I assume I'd never really fallen asleep because I immediately hurtled toward her side of the bed (missing Henry & the dog) & attempted to shove her head in the trash can I'd placed on her side of the bed. Sadly, the trash can remained spotless. 

She only got sick once. I moved her into her room where she immediately fell asleep. I managed to strip my bed without waking Henry. I had a low, sad moment as I stuffed my soiled sheets into the washing machine at around three in the morning. I spent the rest of the night dozing lightly & listening for Reagan, though she slept until after nine the following morning. Again, fool that I am, I thought maybe the worst was behind us. 

I knew we were in a race against the clock, & since she'd vomited & then slept for hours, we were already significantly behind the clock. I don't know how much detail you want (though if you return weekly to read this blog I have to assume you're not entirely opposed to details), but the reason I fear Reagan vomiting is that when she does, her body thinks it's starving, & it shifts gears accordingly. When our bodies think we're starving, when for whatever reason the body is not getting the energy it needs from food, it begins to break down our fat. This is a process that is not problematic for most of us, but for Reagan it's potentially extremely dangerous.

The by-product of fat breakdown is an acid known as ketones. We all produce ketones at times, such as when we're ill or we've eaten few carbohydrates (absent energy from carbs, your body goes after your fat, which is why limiting carbs will cause you to lose body fat), however it is dangerous for diabetics to produce ketones. The ketones quickly build in the system, backlogging into the bloodstream, at which point the body is slowly poisoned. 

When Reagan was hospitalized for DKA (Diabetic Ketoacidosis) back in 2014, that was the result of ketones building due to insufficient insulin. Despite eating carbohydrates, her body didn't have enough insulin to process them, so her blood sugar was consistently too high, meanwhile her body, unable to breakdown carbs, was going after her fat for energy & producing dangerous amounts of ketones (this is why weight loss is one sign of the onset of Type 1 diabetes).

I know how to deal with ketones produced from too little insulin; you give insulin, & you get her to drink an incredible amount of fluid to flush her system. The ketones from vomiting are a whole other monster because first, her sugar isn't high so you can't give her a bunch of insulin, & two, if she's sick & unable to keep fluids down, you can't flush her with fluids, & they may actually make her vomit more, which is not good.

So, yeah. On Tuesday afternoon, Reagan had to pee for the first time since vomiting nearly twelve hours earlier. This was exciting because there are two ways to gauge ketones, blood & urine, & our option at home is the latter. I knew the ketone strip would indicate a high level of ketones, & it did. I told her we'd give it one more strip, so she sat & sipped water & some tea, but the next strip was still dark.

There was some relief in loading her in the car & heading to the hospital. On the drive there I became aware of the tension that took hold the moment Henry vomited the prior Thursday night. It was over; we'd failed to isolate the germs, failed to keep her stomach contents intact, & failed to keep her little body from churning out the dangerous ketones that, by late Tuesday, had begun to build to such an extent that intravenous fluid was the only way to flush them. 

Thankfully the Emergency Room was empty when we arrived, & when I went to retrieve the necessary forms to fill out, this made me smile on an otherwise terrible day:

Reagan in the waiting room, where we only sat for maybe five minutes before we were ushered to triage for weight, height, temp, etc.

It's always interesting taking her to the ER. You get some odd looks when you tell them she threw up. Once. Juvenile diabetes isn't something even many medical professionals understand well.

As she always is, Reagan was a trooper. The nurse who stuck her for the blood work was a good one. One stick in the hand & she got all the blood she needed, & they ran the IV through the same vein. 

At this point it was Tuesday evening. I was clinging to hope the blood work would be clean & she'd just need a few bags of fluid & we'd be sent home, but no dice. The ER doc came in & told me that while she was not in DKA, which I knew, Reagan's blood was acidic & he'd talked to Dr. Green & Reagan was going to be admitted. 

I was relieved I'd decided to bring her when I did. I was relieved to have been relieved of making a decision about school on Wednesday, for Reagan & for me; that decision was now made for me, & so I texted my principal & let her know my Fall Break would be extended. I was relieved to hear the on-call pediatric doctor's name. I had a little party in my head that went something like this:

While we waited to move from the ER to the pediatric floor, I ate the Chick-fil-A my in-laws brought me & chatted with the aforementioned Dr. Green, who came to visit us in the ER & then accompanied us upstairs . . . & then brought Reagan an array of Frozen toys & brought me a toothbrush & toothpaste & warm, fuzzy socks (because I was foolishly optimistic about not staying overnight & was unprepared).

As far as nights in the hospital go, it wasn't a bad one. I slept some. Odd as it sounds, there is - again - some relief at being in the hospital with Reagan. They can run whatever she needs directly through her veins, be it fluids, glucose, or insulin. After Reagan fell asleep, I thought I might read this month's book club book (which is Emma Chapman's How to Be a Good Wife, a complete head trip I've not yet finished), but after the prior night of three am sheet-laundering, I fell asleep around eleven.

The next morning, the on-call doctor forever cemented her place in my heart with this:

Wednesday morning hair:

Wednesday morning's blood work was similar to Tuesday evening's, but Wednesday afternoon we got a clean urine sample & headed home to prepare for school on Thursday. Ha. Ha. Ha. Ha.

I fell into bed Wednesday night & slept well for, oh, three hours. As a general rule, don't brag about your intestinal fortitude on your blog as I so brazenly did last week. Those words will come back to you at two in the morning when your bare thighs are pressed desperately against the cold, hard concrete floors in your bathroom, your face in a trash can lined with the Target bags you always save in case you need to line a small trash can six or seven times in the span of a couple of hours. 

I honestly think my body was doing a stellar job of holding the monster at bay until Reagan got sick. Once she was admitted for a night in the hospital, my immune system was like, okay, whatever. I was running on too little sleep & had heard a fateful splat one too many times; I was a ticking time bomb. I not only got sick in the early morning hours of last Thursday, I think I was, once it was all said & done, the sickest of the four of us. 

When five o'clock Thursday morning rolled around & I'd yet to return to sleep & had already gone through four or five Target bags, I knew there was no hope of my making it to school Thursday, & so I began planning accordingly. I'd planned to leave Reagan at home to rest with my mother, but I didn't want Henry to miss school because his class was slated to visit the pumpkin patch. I woke Trey up to let him know plans had changed & he needed to get Henry up & dress him & take him to school. I then texted my mom to let her know she was still needed at the house to watch Reagan, & not to tary because I was not in good shape. 

The saddest part about Thursday was I was home all day, in the bed, but I could not even lift my head. I didn't want to read. I didn't want to watch Gilmore Girls. I almost vomited attempting to reply to various texts from concerned students & coworkers. I won't make any grand pronouncement about the worst stomach virus I've ever had because I learned my lesson about making grand pronouncements last week, but it was punishing. 

I probably needed Friday to rest & recover, given that when I (attempted) to stand & talk to my first  period class on Friday, I was running on a couple of popsicles & had to sit down to make it through the three announcements I needed to make. I didn't want Reagan to miss another day of school, & if Reagan's at school, I need to be at school (because, you know, diabetes), & so the three of us made the familiar journey to school early Friday morning. In a blessed twist of fate, Friday was "this is how I woke up" day at school, which worked out well for me since I was out of practice using eye make-up anyway & was in no mood to wear pants with a zipper. A student who shall remain nameless met me at my classroom door Friday morning & commented on how seriously I had taken the day's theme. 

Goodness, this is getting long & I haven't even mentioned birthday fun or my seventh wedding anniversary, which any longtime blog reader of course remembers is today. You might expect me to follow that last sentence with a couple of paragraphs dripping with love & adoration for my husband, but he's not a regular blog reader & I think for today we're both satisfied to not be cleaning up or expelling vomit. Hugs, dear, if you happen to drop by the blog today. 

When I woke up on my birthday, I wanted coffee, for which I was so thankful. It's been a slow recovery; I don't know if that's due to the severity of the bug, or my advancing age, or both. At some point we may have an actual celebration of sorts with cupcakes or something, but we are all pretty iffy about extended family togetherness right now. I drank coffee Saturday morning, made it to my hair appointment that afternoon, & ate real food that night while watching LSU; what more can a birthday girl ask for?

I suppose my thirty-fifth year was one of answers. I found a publisher. I left the college classroom, a place I've been in one capacity or another since, oh, circa 1999. I am discovering I can teach high school English. Sort of. I'm discovering there are delightful members of the group known collectively as millennials. My students are on the cusp of what might possibly be a decade of questions. I'm watching & listening to some of them wrestle with questions now, & often I bite my tongue. 

In The Bronze Horseman (yeah I know it's been a good while since I've mentioned it), Alexander asks Tatiana to answer three questions, to keep their answers in the forefront of her mind during their many long months (years!) of separation, during war, during uncertainty, during every last imaginable form of angst a writer can throw at a couple, & to ground herself with her answers to these questions:

Ask yourself these three questions, Tatiana Metanova, and you will know who you are. Ask: What do you believe in? What do you hope for? What do you love?

Naturally Tatiana's answer to all three questions is Alexander, but that aside, they're not terrible questions to ponder. 

You don't have to have all the answers now, my lovelies. Enjoy that. It is a luxury, believe it or not. When you're thirty-five (barely) & your diabetic child is vomiting & your husband's not even home because he took his vomit germs to his parents' house & it is two in the morning, answers have to come fast in these moments. 

You don't have to know it all now, which works out well, because you don't. You're not a failure if you don't have a gut feeling about where to attend college, or what your major will be, or what you want to be when you grow up. Enjoy your final year of high school. Revel in the fact that it's here, & it's right now, & understand it is never coming again. I don't know exactly why the stars aligned as they did to bring me to you, or you to me, but I actually missed (most of ;) ) you over my extended Fall Break, & we're already into the second quarter, & I enjoy you so much I get a little weepy thinking about the end of April. Figure out what you believe in, & what you hope for, & what you love. If you are one who overthinks (as am I), think on those three things, overthink the answers to those three questions during this year of tumult & questions, & in the years that follow. 

Trey & I didn't get married until we were twenty-nine & thirty, &, as individuals, we knew what unfortunately many people do not know before they marry: who we are. At this point I could easily segue into As I Lay Dying & the novel that will follow it in the AP classroom, The Awakening, & the similitudes of the respective matriarchs in those novels. I could tell you all about the free (& unsolicited) psychoanalysis my AP students regularly offer me, but maybe we'll save that for next week. My point is, kiddos, while Alexander Barrington does have a bad temper & a foul mouth at times, I think his advice is sound, & advice Addie Bundren & Edna Pontellier would echo: know who you are. It's okay if it takes you a year or ten to figure all that out.

I'll leave you with this. Understand & accept now that there will be questions to which there are no answers, at least not this side of Heaven. Learn to stop asking these questions; often the answer to many of them is simply this: we live a sinful, fallen world in which men are free moral agents who make poor choices, & those choices sometimes have far-reaching consequences. You can control you, & that's it, so figure out who you are, & sort everything else accordingly.


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