Monday, November 28, 2016

Motherhood: A Week in the Life

I begin with a thank you to those who reached out to me in response to last week's blog, some publicly, some privately, & said, Me too

As you might imagine I have a good many pictures to post given last week's gaiety. In order to get to the pictures I know you want to see my plan is to share with you a clipped version of our weeklong Thanksgiving Break. There were good times & bad; vomit was involved. Oh yes. Oh yes. 

Monday went well. It was a productive day. The children & I lounged with our respective morning milk & coffee until around eleven, & then we went & bought a week's worth of groceries & visited various establishments that allow business to be conducted via a window, such as Chick-fil-A & the bank. We returned home to enjoy the lovely weather; they played on their (fenced-in, gated & locked) playground while I exercised. We ended the day by erecting our Christmas tree. I decided the lights & ornaments would have to wait because it was getting late, & also because I wanted to buy new lights for the tree, something that's been a goal of mine for, oh, the last three years. We had the whole week of break in front of us, & I figured surely there'd be some time to decorate the tree. Surely.

Tuesday did not go as smoothly as Monday. The dog, Sophie, is due for her yearly shots. I got up Tuesday morning & decided to make it as lovely & productive a day as Monday. At some point early last week it was decided the kids & I would meet my mom, my sister, my niece, & my nephew at Cracker Barrel for lunch Wednesday, followed by time spent in Hobby Lobby, followed by a late afternoon showing of Moana, Disney's latest animated masterpiece.

So I'm sitting in bed with my coffee Tuesday morning. I know Wednesday is booked. I know Thursday is Thanksgiving Day. I know Friday my plans are to help my mom select a live Christmas tree & then ship the children & their father to his parents' house so I can be alone with the Gilmore Girls. By the time I finished my coffee I'd reached the inescapable conclusion that I needed to load the two small children & even smaller dog into the car & carry us all to the vet; that is what I did.

Things went well at first. The vet didn't appear to be too busy. For the first forty or so minutes of our wait, the children entertained themselves in the children's play area. When they grew weary of the play area we took a few group selfies. 

About five minutes after the above photos were taken, Henry rose from the bench where he'd been sitting, lunged for me, & vomited. He vomited on himself. He vomited on me. He vomited on my Frye purse. Yes. There was a lady seated near us in the waiting room & I suspect she may've known I was carrying a Frye purse, or either she just reacts violently to vomit because she seemed more upset than I was. 

One of the front desk workers brought me some towels but told me I was on my own to clean it all up because she couldn't handle it. Fair enough. I sopped up the vomit on the floor, & then the front desk worker came & mopped the floor, leaving a large Caution: Wet Floor sign to remind everyone who'd just witnessed the vomiting of the vomiting.

At this point we'd been waiting an hour to see the vet so the dog could get her shots. My left leg & left shoe were covered in vomit, as was Henry's shirt &, yes, my beloved Frye purse. I was doing some soul searching. Do I sit, covered in vomit, & continue to wait to see the vet? Do I admit defeat & leave, taking my small, shaking dog & vomit-stained children & purse with me, returning home having achieved not one of our goals? How can I salvage this day, this precious day that is one of only a few that comprise my coveted "break?"

We waited another ten minutes before I made a call. I purchased six months worth of heart worm medication so the outing wouldn't be a total loss & we all left & went home having never seen a veterinarian. Naturally I plan to return to the vet soon (alone) & get the poor dog her shots. 

A normal woman would've been distraught over the Frye purse, but I was of course trying to zero in on the cause of Henry's vomiting. He'd drunk nothing but milk all morning & had been suffering with a slightly runny nose for a few days; I was hopeful the milk & snot had combined to sour his stomach & caused the vomiting. He did vomit once more at home after eating a popsicle, but recovered remarkably quickly, eating some dinner & then sleeping all night without incident. We made all our standing appointments Wednesday (pictures to come) & I was hopeful we weren't dealing with a virus that could potentially find its way to the diabetic child. 

Wednesday's lunch was incredible. If you don't know, Cracker Barrel's Wednesday lunch special is their Chicken Pot Pie; it is delicious. One of my goals for break was to make it to Cracker Barrel for lunch on Wednesday & eat their Chicken Pot Pie, & despite Tuesday's setback, I made it. 

With full bellies & a vomit-free morning buoying our spirits, we headed to Hobby Lobby. We spent a long time in Hobby Lobby, leaving with four new strands of lights for our tree & handfuls of ornaments the children selected, several of which were chipped &/or broken before we made it to the car. With half an hour to kill before the movie, I got myself a hot cup of afternoon coffee & we drove around listening to Christmas music; I enjoyed my coffe while the children continued to meddle with & further destroy their new ornaments. It is amazing how cheery everyone is simply because no one is vomiting, or suggesting they might vomit.

Our pictorial journey toward the theater:

Moana is not bad, not bad at all. It's not The Little Mermaid, but I mean, what is? It was worth the price of the tickets just to see the preview for Beauty and the Beast that's coming in March featuring Hermione Emma Watson as Belle. As an aside (but a relevant aside), I teach a young man who resembles the prince in Beauty and the Beast - not the beast, mind you, but the prince after Belle's love has restored him to his former princely glory. I actually think my student would've been a better casting choice than Dan Stevens, but so far as I know he has no acting ambitions & is content being a high school student with good hair. 

Here come the pictures from Thursday & Friday. In summary, we ate, we attempted to take framable photos, then we ate some more, we visited a tree farm with Nana & Papa, & I attempted to watch football when possible while tuning out the football-coach-hiring drama because I gave up soap operas years ago. 

On Friday, after selecting a tree that will be delivered to Nana's house in a week or so in hopes it will live until Christmas, we all headed to Nana & Papa's & ate pancakes & drank milk &/or coffee. Then Papa took the kids to the park & I exercised. 

I paused mid-exercise to take this. Look at this tree. It moved me Friday. Admittedly I was flying anyway; the weather was amazing, I was working off a hundred or so of the thousands of calories I'd consumed the day before, & plans were firming up for Trey to take the kids to sleep at his parents' house while I basked in the glow of the Christmas tree (which is strung with lights but still bereft of ornaments) & watched hour after hour of Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life. If you live in a cave you may not know that the lovely people at Netflix are now streaming four brand new ninety-minute episodes of Gilmore Girls titled Winter, Spring, Summer, & Fall. I note for my students that the seasons are capitalized in this instance because they're titles. 

Once Trey & the children were secure at his parents' house Friday night, I headed out. This was on the radio when I turned on my car; I knew the alone-mom-gods were favoring me.

You may wonder why I didn't race home to watch Gilmore Girls. The short answer is: custard. The longer answer is that I teach a young man who works at Eskamoes & I've heard rumors of his custard skills for months & decided I'd drive over to see for myself what all the fuss is about. You see, he mixes your selected toppings into the custard and then fills your waffle cone with the delectable mixture. This process is very different from the typical (lazy) approach: filling the waffle cone with custard & halfheartedly dropping toppings on the custard like some pathetic afterthought. 

I was rewarded tenfold for my drive across town. The custard & cone were delicious, & he asked to take my picture, which I agreed to so long as he sent it to me before sharing it publicly because I was still wearing my workout clothes & not a stitch of make-up. 

I arrived home, the waffle cone long gone, & made a huge cup of coffee & grabbed the remote, the anticipation so great I think I squealed aloud in my otherwise silent, empty home. A couple of hours into my Gilmore Girls marathon my phone rang. I was calm. I assumed there may be some sort of insulin-related/carb-related question for which Trey was seeking an answer. Unfortunately Trey was calling to tell me Reagan had vomited. Ah. 

I turned off the Gilmore Girls. I finished the cup of coffee in my hand. I cried for a minute. I remembered a night in the spring of 2014. A few months after her diabetes diagnosis, Reagan was hospitalized because she had a stomach bug. I remember watching her sleep in her hospital bed. I felt so defeated that we were back in the hospital so soon after diagnosis. It was actually our third trip in as many months; she was hospitalized when she was diagnosed, then a month later because she was in DKA, & then a month later because she had a stomach virus I had absolutely no idea how to handle given I was barely managing when she was healthy. We were costing Blue Cross so much money they were calling me nearly every day to check on her. 

Anyway, I watched her sleep & resolved to learn what I could, to do what I could in the future to keep her out of the hospital. She lives her life hooked to an insulin pump, & her fingers are pricked ten times a day, & while that's become her normal, our normal, I didn't want the hospital to become a part of that normal. At times it cannot be avoided, & I am so thankful we are near a good hospital staffed by doctors who've always been wonderful when we needed them. I suppose I set a goal for myself that night; I resolved to one day survive a stomach bug all on our own. It's tricky, but it is possible. Friends, it is with a full heart & a tear in my eye that I tell you we did it this weekend. Saturday was a long & dicey day, but we did it. The tree ornaments are still in boxes at the foot of the tree, my notes on The Awakening remain incomplete, & my Frye purse still smells of vomit, yet I claim victory. 

I thought all was lost Friday night when Trey got her home. She vomited a total of four or five times. I had her taking tiny, tiny sips of Coke, which all came back to us. What helped, & what may've saved us on Saturday, was this crazy blender Trey bought a few years ago when he went on one of his health kicks & decided he'd lose a lot of weight by eating nothing but fruit smoothies. He bought this blender that grinds ice to an absolute pulp. I gave up on the Coke, ground up some ice, & she was able to keep the ice chips down before falling asleep around midnight. 

I slept some. Fearing the lows that usually accompany vomiting, we checked her number about every hour. She dipped into the seventies & I was forced to shut her pump off temporarily, which I hated to do because, despite running low numbers, she needed insulin desperately as we all do when we're ill. Our bodies give us the insulin, but throw in glucagon when needed in order to keep our sugar from dipping too low; Reagan's body does neither. 

Saturday morning she was running high ketones. That was to be expected. She needed extra insulin to knock out the ketones, but in order to give her the insulin, I had to get her number to rise, which meant eating/drinking/snorting things laden with carbohydrates, keeping them down, & then watching for the number to rise so we could get some insulin in her. Basically this was me all day Saturday:

I started by turning again to the trusty ice-pulverizing machine. She kept the ice chips down. I added Coke - regular, fully-loaded, straight-from-Satan Coke. She kept the ice chips/Coke mixture down. Then I added straight sugar to the ice chips/Coke mixture; she continued to retain her stomach contents. Still not seeing the rise I needed in her number, I asked Trey what he might have stashed around the house. Because, like me, he lacks self-discipline, Trey had recently purchased both cherry & blueberry Pop Tarts that are a whopping thirty-eight carbs per tart. I had her eat half a cherry Pop Tart. An hour later, we were still vomit-free AND her number was rising. Hope springs eternal. She ate the rest of the Pop Tart & some Skittles, all while steadily ingesting Coke-infused ice chips. Around  noon her number rose to over two-hundred & I starting cranking out the insulin.

I resolved to wait the recommended four hours before checking her for ketones again, even if she needed to urinate in the interim. Around four in the afternoon, we were vomit free, steadily ingesting candy & ice chips laced with various sugary liquids, & I was running her at an increased basal rate & seeing no resulting lows. We were telling her body, Here, look! Look at all the carbs we're consuming! Look at how well we're functioning! We are no longer sick & have all the insulin we need & more so enough with the ketone production. Her body listened. For the second time that day, I knelt beside her on the toilet & waited for her to urinate so I could catch a drop on the ketone strip. I counted the required fifteen-seconds in my head before peering at the strip.

I finally peeked & saw a considerably more welcome color than the dark, frightening magenta I'd seen that morning. She wasn't totally clear, but her ketones had dropped from "high" to "trace," which meant while her urine wasn't clean yet, her blood likely was as the urine lags several hours behind the blood. At eight o'clock Saturday night, I got a perfectly clean strip. Totally negative. I cried & officially declared victory. 

Reagan slept in the bed with me Saturday night. After she fell asleep, I made myself a supper of hot chocolate & oatmeal cookies & watched more Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life. I took advantage of some of the online sales that were still in full swing, something I'd intended to sit in the bed doing all day Saturday while watching successive college football games. I looked at what Frye currently has to offer in the way of handbags because sometimes I do not heed the lessons of history. 

Some people climb Mount Everest & declare victory. Some people are handed a diploma & rejoice. I am the mother of a diabetic child; I sit anxiously beside the toilet awaiting a trickle of urine that lets me know that, for today, my efforts on behalf of my child have been successful. I won this battle, but I know the monster will return. He will, however, return to meet a determined mother who now knows what is possible. 


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