Sunday, April 1, 2018

Steady Anna

Good Sunday evening.

Last week when we chatted I was on the cusp of a much-anticipated Spring Break. Technically I am still on break, though Spring Break has become Easter Break, I suppose. The two sort of ran into each other this year. We don't return to school until Tuesday. We're taking tomorrow off to nurse our Easter / Spring Break hangover. 

Tomorrow night the book club will meet to discuss March's book, & that will be the perfect way to say farewell to the long break. I'll no doubt thoroughly enjoy myself at book club, happily ignoring reality for a little bit longer. Then I'll return home to pack the lunches & the backpacks & select what everyone will wear Tuesday . . . & I will hold the tears at bay & comfort myself with the knowledge that it is April. In fact, Wednesday is April 4, & in honor of Winston Smith I will likely have the seniors write in their journals . . . about Winston Smith. I appreciate myself & my assignments even if no one else does.

I do want to take a moment & share with you these pictures students (& their parents) sent me over the break. I didn't travel anywhere worth mentioning, but my students (& their parents) did . . . & they took some of my favorite books with them.

So, a quick summation of my Spring Break, perhaps with a few accompanying photos if I can muster the strength to load them on my computer.

On Monday morning, I sat in a chair & was perfectly still while I drank my morning coffee from a mug. That is one of the little things you miss when you're just never at home much. Maybe one day I'll write a blog that truly captures why Trey & I are a good match. That blog would likely be titled, "People Are Stressful: Let's Stay Home." Some days I feel like I need a therapist, but what I actually need is a few mornings that don't begin with a five am alarm, morning traffic, & hurried coffee drinking.

So anyway, I had a wonderful experience drinking my Monday morning coffee. A little later in the morning, I walked through the house a few times randomly kicking toys in my path & muttering about all of the junk we own.  I parlayed my irritation into a decent clean out of Reagan's closet. I knew I'd hate myself at the end of the week if I didn't at least do one productive thing the entire week.  I filled a few bags with clothes that no longer fit Reagan, threw them in the back of my car, & dutifully checked, "Do One Productive Thing" off my Spring Break to-do list.

Tuesday was an eventful day. We'd made plans to see Peter Rabbit at the theater that evening, but the children & I ended up leaving the house earlier than planned because Sophie the dog developed a mysterious rash on her belly that required a visit to the vet's office.

(Vet Fun)

If you've never taken your pet to the veterinarian's office with your young children in tow, well, do not do this unless it cannot be avoided. Bringing rambunctious kids into a waiting room full of skittish pets who suspect they're about to get a shot does not endear you to the owners of the skittish pets. Sophie is now taking some oral antibiotics that I force down her throat once a day, & her rash is nearly gone. We did make it to Peter Rabbit Tuesday evening, which is a delightful film. 

Wednesday I got the kids out of bed in time to go eat breakfast at Chick-fil-A. They ate & then played on the playground for about an hour before I forced them back in the car so we could get groceries before the rain caught us. 

If my crowning achievement Wednesday was unloading all the groceries before the deluge began, Thursday's highlight was definitely my remembering Reagan's 3:45 appointment with her ballet class. All week I told her to remind me she had ballet; these things are difficult to remember when our normal routine is nonexistent. 

I took Reagan & Henry over to their grandparents' house Thursday morning so I could do some things all by myself. I had a gift card to a local boutique where I found not one but four dresses I love. I ate lunch with a former student. I went shopping for the Easter Bunny. I ran home to feed the dog & force-feed her the aforementioned antibiotic. I jetted back to my in-laws, retrieved Reagan, & shuttled her to ballet. I think I ran a few more errands (I don't remember, & you don't care). Eventually I made it back to the house with both kids in tow, & there was a roast waiting for us in the crock pot because when I don't rise at five am, I sometimes occasionally am a magical domestic fairy. I didn't clean any closets out Thursday, but I didn't sit on the couch drinking coffee all day either. 

Friday & Saturday the kids & I spent some time at my parents' house. We spent a good bit of that time outside, & that went something like this:

These below were taken in our neighborhood at the end of my walk one night this past week. I'm going to share them because I am getting older & enjoy photographing nature & sharing the photos with people who may or may not care. 

I recognize that this Spring Break summary isn't all that fascinating. I've left a few details out, most of them regarding Reagan's new pump. It has been & continues to be an adjustment. One thing I've discovered is that her basal insulin needs have increased (if needed, click here to refresh your knowledge of basal insulin). I don't think it's a temporary increase in need (temporary increases are needed for growth spurts, for example). I think she's grown & she just needs more.

Too little basal insulin essentially means that even if she eats few carbs, she will run high. We all need insulin to function even if we don't eat much sugar or many carbs. This is why some Type 2 diabetics can manage or even eliminate their issues with diet & exercise. Type 2s still produce some insulin, but either their body isn't using it efficiently (insulin resistance) &/or their body cannot meet the demand for insulin because they eat excess sugar & excess carbs. Literally the more you weigh, the more basal insulin you need. Since her initial diagnosis in January of 2014, Reagan's daily basal dose has increased from about six units a day to around ten units a day, divided up in varying amounts over twenty-four hours. The more sugar you eat, the more insulin you're forcing your body to churn out to attempt to process it. Carrying around extra fat & continuing to ingest excess sugar & carbs is forcing your body to do so much extra work; this is literally why your body is more likely to give out sooner than it otherwise might.

You just think differently when you realize what it is exactly you're asking your body to do when you heap on extra pounds & shovel in food that requires your body to churn out so much insulin, often food that will leave you hungry within the hour. You feel tired not because you've exercised, but because internally, your body is chaotically trying to compensate for your poor choices. As fat accumulates, you're asking more & more of your body because your basal needs rise with your weight. Weight piles on (more insulin needed) & sugar & carbs continue to be consumed in unhealthy amounts (more insulin needed).

So, okay, lecture over. I will cease using the word literally. Anyway, a Type 1 makes zero insulin. Zero. Even on a zero-carb diet, a Type 1 will quickly run into trouble without insulin because insulin is a hormone essential for basic functions to continue. It's essential for basic functions, it's essential to process all carbs, & yet, too much could kill you. Fun stuff. Sometimes I open the refrigerator & just stare at the vials of the stuff. 

I didn't catch up on all that much sleep this past week (& clearly I'm a bit scattered today). Several nights I was up & down a lot watching Reagan's trends. When her sensor is working (another aspect of the new system which comes with a learning curve), I can see how she's trending; is she steady?, is she rising or falling rapidly?, is she trending low but not in a dangerous-let-us-panic way? Overnight, assuming she didn't eat anything just before going to bed, if she rises twenty or thirty points in an hour, it means she needs more basal insulin. Once I realized her stubborn highs were almost certainly related to a need for more basal, I had to figure out exactly how much more basal she needs & when she needs it. It's all trial & error. 

Today has been a rollercoaster, quite literally where her numbers are concerned. I've seen 50 & I've seen 500. No joke. Here, see for yourself. That top number on the graph on the pump is 350; if she's higher than that, the graph can't accurately reflect her number. Her meter told us she was somewhere around 500 at one point after lunch. Being my silly self, I overcorrected or something (sometimes I wonder if she doesn't spurt out insulin at times), & she fell from 500 to under 100 extremely quickly. That's what that nosedive line represents. I knew it was fast because she was nauseated, which is often a side effect of major swings in blood sugar.

To compare, here's one from earlier this week. That's not an ideal number, but really anything between 100 & 200 I will take. What's as important as the actual 187 is that I can see she's falling a little bit, but it's a steady, safe fall . . . she's likely to rise a little more, probably back up to around 200, before hopefully landing safely somewhere around 120. I know she'll rise a little because she has over two units of active insulin in her body, which means she has recently eaten. The food & the insulin will, in theory, peak together in her body. 

Thankfully days with extreme lows or extreme highs are rare.

Anyway, in my head I had this whole blog planned out, but it's just not going to happen today. I am mentally & physically done with this day. I would not be able to say what I want to say with any clarity, & so maybe I'll try again next week. It is likely I'll try again next week, because once something is in my head I usually have to eventually purge it via a word processor or it will never let me sleep in peace. 

The C.S. Lewis quote above (& here again, below) is one that always comes to mind on Easter. It also comes to my mind  when I read an interview with an author in which he or she discusses their writing process, or when I am reading a book & I begin to question the author's decisions. My plan was to discuss God as author, essentially. I would like to attempt that in the near future.

Some people probably think of the Resurrection as a desperate last moment expedient to save the Hero from a situation that had got out of the Author's control. 

I've told you before that one of the reasons I am drawn to fiction writing is the control I have over the world I build. I like being in control. I like putting words in a character's mouth. I like deciding to break someone's heart or maybe their leg or deciding someone has an obsession with turtlenecks. We all have fun in our own ways.

I know the control I sometimes feel I have over my own life is an illusion. Days like today remind me how little control I have. I have a literal line graph to illustrate today's lack of control. Oh, sorry. I said literal again. 

I hope you & your family enjoyed a relaxed & happy Easter. Mine has been kind of manic (my family & my Easter). Most of the rest of the world — the frilly Easter dresses & the family photos & the merriment — becomes a blur in the background when you're checking blood sugar every ten minutes. Chronic is as chronic does, I guess. Chronic doesn't stop for Easter. 

Anyway, knowing what I know of C.S. Lewis & his affinity for storytelling, I adore his analogy of God as author & Christ as hero. Despite my inability to say anything interesting about the above quote, I still wanted to share it with you on Easter. You can see why the idea of God as author might appeal to someone like me, a reader & a writer who daily attempts to manage a disease that is absolutely unpredictable. Join me next week & perhaps we'll further explore this.

I do hope to return in a week's time with lovely pictures of steady lines on the pump's screen.

Steady lines  = steady Anna. 


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