Tuesday, March 13, 2007

A Fear of Purple Elephants

At Riley’s endo appointment in September the subject of school came up.

As Dr. M was talking she could see me squirming in my seat. “I don’t want to think about him starting school right now.”

She smiled. “Does Riley ever stay with someone who is not a relative?”

“Um, no. The only people who know how to care for his diabetes are my husband and I and my mom. I’m not leaving him with anyone else.”

She smiled some more. “Well, maybe you should think about leaving him with someone just to go to the grocery store or something. Just a quick little trip.”

This was during the time that Riley was playing soccer. “Or, you can leave him at soccer practice and run to the grocery store.”

Was she crazy? Leave him alone at soccer practice? What if he went low? What if he needed me? What if…

Then she went on to say that I needed to let go a little at the time. It would make it easier on me when it was time to send him off to school, which makes perfect sense.

“This woman knows what she’s talking about.”, I thought. “I really need to listen to her and do what she says.”

Michael and I talked about it on the way home. I admitted I needed to give up some of the control. We talked about situations I would be comfortable with.

Then, I proceeded to do exactly what I’ve been doing all along. And, that was six months ago.

Why is it so hard for me to let someone else have the reigns for a while?

Riley has been staying with my mom when I’m working. He’s been doing this for 17 months. I have just gotten to the point in the last couple of months where I stopped calling my mom several times a day to check on Riley’s sugars. I have even gotten to the point where I don’t automatically look at his sugars as soon as I walk in the door.

This is a big step for me. The next big step is coming up in 5 months. And, I don’t know what I’m going to do about it.

I know I need to ease into it like Dr. M said. But, I just have so many fears. I’m terrified of the what-ifs.

What if…he goes low and has a seizure? No, he’s never had a seizure before, but what if he does and I’m not there?

What if…he goes low and no one notices until he passes out?

What if… he goes high and starts to spill ketones?

What if…his set comes out and I’m not right there to change it?

What if…they don’t count his carbs right?

What if… a purple elephant lands on the moon and sprinkles sugar in the air?

Yes, I do know how silly I sound.

I have never been a person to live by the what-ifs in life. Ever. So, what has changed? What has this stupid disease done to me?

A lot of it has to do with control. I am not a control freak. Really, I’m not. You only need to look at my house and see the chaos to know that being in control of everything is not an issue for me.

With diabetes no one is ever really in control. You can do everything just right (eat, count carbs, bolus) and still come out with crappy numbers. I think me handling every aspect of Riley’s D helps me to somehow feel more in control of things.

Silly, really, trying to feel in control of something you know you can’t control anyway.

But, the big issue, and this in the one I struggle with the most, is fear. Fear that something bad will happen to Riley. Fear that if I had been there, whatever it was would not have happened.

Holden got his driver’s license (and a car) a little over a month ago. A few weeks before, I started panicking. I didn’t know how I was going to handle it. I just knew I would worry that something bad was going to happen every time he was out on the road.

But, you know what? That’s not the case at all. The day he got his license, I stood there with my video camera and watched him drive away for the first time. I waited for the panic to rise in my chest, but it never came. I said a little prayer and went on with my day.

Do I worry that he might get in a wreck? Yes. But, I don’t dwell on it. I just tell myself that if it happens I will deal with it then. There is no reason to waste my time worrying about things that hopefully will never happen. And, even if it does happen, all the worrying in the world won’t change it.

Why oh why can’t I get to that point about Riley’s diabetes?

I’m hoping that when he starts school and I don’t have a choice but to let him go, I’ll do OK. But, right now, I have a choice, and that choice is to keep him as close to me as possible.


Scott K. Johnson said...

It is a hard thing Penny, to let go -- even a little bit.

But, it's been done before, by countless parents. Not only parents of kids with D, but everyone.

A little at a time is a good plan - just go for it!

Lyrehca said...

This is a really honest post, and I second what Scott wrote.

MileMasterSarah said...

The only people I trust to take care of Gracie is her day care and Bob. For us two going out, I’m scared to death to even ask someone to take care of her. And Gracie isn’t even on short-acting insulin. I totally understand, or at least partially understand.

Allison said...

I don't really know exactly what you are going through, but I have had other parents say the exact same thing to me (I babysat for about a dozen children with diabetes when I was in high school) every time I came over to babysit. One woman literally called me a "godsend" which I thought was a bit of an exageration, though I understood how she could feel that way.

I am a fan of "tough love" in diabetes - and as much as Dr. Phil irritates me, I appreciate his "tell it like it is" attitude. Fact is, the things you listed *could* happen. A lot of things "could" happen. Doesn't mean they are going to, but you're right, they could. Except for the elephant part - though that sounds kind of cool, actually.

The thing you need to remember is just like you learned about diabetets and how to take care of your son, other people can learn too. You have to have a plan. You have to look at all your fears and address the possibilities matter-of-factly.

"What if he has a seizure?" - train the teacher/secretary/nurse/lunch lady/etc how to use a glucagon.Have juice in an easy-to-reach place to prevent Riley from being without juice too long.

"What if he goes high and spills ketones?" - provide the secretary with keto-strips, a bottle of insulin and some syringes. Spilling ketones won't kill him as long as he gets some insulin until you arrive.

"What if his set comes out?" - train aforesuggested people how to put a new set in. Or keep a bottle of Lantus and Humalog in the office and do it the old-fashioned way for a day. Worse things have happened.

"What if they don't count his carbs right?" - first, label everything he brings to school so there is no guessing. You have a pump that has a Bolus Wizard, no? Pretty self-explanatory. Second, *we* don't even count carbs right, and we survive unscathed. It's okay.

Lastly, there is a book called "A Child in Your Care Has Diabetes" written by a mom of a daughter with diabetes. Her name is Lisa Hendel and she is AWESOME. I have a copy of her earlier book and if my parents had this book when I was younger, it probably would have made things a lot easier. It has charts, graphs, fill-in-the-blank sheets for every possible situation imaginable. www.henhousepress.com. I definitely recommend this book for you and every other parent in the O.C. Two enthusiastic thumbs up.

julia said...

I think you have to realize that other people WILL be able to care for Riley. Maybe they won't do it exactly the way you'd do it, but they will do it. Thorough communication is the key. A log book that goes back and forth, a phone call if you need to, just stay in touch with whomever is doing the care.

It's not easy to let go - I know.

Penny said...

Scott and Lyrehca,

Thank you for your comments. I know I need to ease into things. But, I'm just so darned scared. I think if I'd just do it, I'd realize that it's not nearly as bad as I thought it would be.


I know you get where I'm coming from having a little on with it yourself.


Thank you for all the good advice. I'm going to go look at that book right now.


Thank you, great suggestions also.

cass said...

you're a super mom. and you are doing a super job. i second what everyone else said.

i am a worry-wort too. and i am not even a mom! i like a nice hot bath. to occasionally calm the nerves.

and a good pillow. pillows help. multiple uses!

Jenn said...

Although I dont know what it is like to have a child with Diabetes and have those exact fears you and others have... I can only imagine. As a parent though in any situation it is hard to let someone else have the "control" I know even with my husband I worry he wont do things my exact way so it must be wrong. I know thats not fair to him.. that is something I need to work on and am working on.

I can tell by reading your blog everyday that you are an amazing mom. When its time you will let go a bit at a time.. and it will work out. In the meantime I think its allowed to have those fears..


Pam said...

I know how you feel. I made the choice of not sending my son to school because I am so nervous about loosing control. I felt I would not be able to relax and would drive the school nuts, so far this has been the best decision for my family. I am trying to learn to let go a little, it is so hard. my thoughts are with you.

Bernard said...


Great post on the struggles of parenting. Not just a D-kid. These are the struggles that all parents go through.

Each time we adopted again, we didn't seem to go out on a date for ages afterwards. We just couldn't bear to leave our newest arrival with a babysitter.

This is part of the tough stuff of parenting. I hope that you can ease into it with Riley. Try and do it some more before he starts school.

Because, trust me, school will be difficult enough anyway.

Thanks for your honest and great post.

prayergal said...

Letting go when a child starts school is trying for everyone even when the child has no health problems. I have been mulling over your post earlier when you said there isn't a school nurse where Riley is going to school. Now I know that is hard for you. You are going to have to leave Riley in the hands of another, someone not in your family. I know it is going to be very difficult, but God has brought you this far and He isn't going to leave you now. It will take a lot of prayer and a lot of trust, but you will make it. God is good!
Love and prayers,
Aunt Linda