Thursday, June 21, 2007

Choking back tears

About three weeks after Riley was diagnosed, he checked his own sugar for the first time. But, then, we started checking it for him. It was just easier (and quicker) that way.

Michael and I have been talking lately about how we need to start getting him back in the habit of checking his sugar himself since he will be checking it once he starts school.

But, I’ve been putting it off. I didn’t really know why. I thought maybe it was because it’s just easier to do it myself.

Michael called me yesterday morning. He said he was in the kitchen fixing Riley’s breakfast and he told Riley to go get his machine and put it on the couch and he would come in and check his sugar.

A few minutes later Riley walked in holding his machine in his hand. He had not only gotten his machine, he had checked his sugar all by himself without being prompted.

When Michael told me this story my eyes immediately filled with tears. I had to take a few breaths before I said anything. All I could say is, “That’s good and sad all at the same time.”

Then, before snack last night I told Riley to check his sugar. He went and got his machine. He removed a strip and placed it in the machine. He readied the lancet. He stuck his finger, but didn’t get any blood on the first try. Again, he readied the lancet and stuck his finger. This time he must have gotten it right because I saw him squeeze a small drop of blood out of his little pinkie finger.

He put the blood on the strip and waited for the beep. “What number is it?”, I asked.

“One, five, five”, he said.

“OK, run and get you a snack.”

He put his machine and lancet back into his case and zipped it. Then, he went into the kitchen in search of a snack.

I turned and looked at Michael. I was barely able to hold back the tears as I choked out, “Why is that so painful for me to watch? I check his sugar all the time and don’t think about it. But, it kills me to watch him do it.”

I guess it's just a harsh reminder to me that it's his disease. It's his burden to bear. I don't want it to be that way. I want to take that burden from him.

But, I can't. All I can do is teach him to manage it as best he can.

And, sit and choke back tears as I watch him try.


Kelsey said...

That's the sweetest thing I've ever read...

You parents of diabetics never cease to amaze me by how much you want to take this disease on as your own so your kids don't have to deal with it.

It's actually very awesome that you've helped your son to be so comfortable with the chores of diabetes, that he's testing his own blood at such a young age. What a big milestone!

Paige said...

Thinking of you, Penny.

I recently had a similar experience (and cry) when I heard Olivia say "diabetes" for the first time. I don't think that she even quite knew what she was saying, but it jarred me.

Minnesota Nice said...

Each step forward that Riley takes will probably always remind you of the fact that he has to "own" his condition.
Yet, your little boy is growing up and becoming responsible - anything that demonstrates it will also be worth a tear or two.
You're a good mom, Penny.

Shannon said...

The tables have turned and it's your post that made me cry.

I totally know what you're feeling Penny...I've felt it too and so easily placed myself in your point of view.

What broke my heart most was that Riley was too young to know how to say one-hundred-fifty-five, yet he knows how to do something that his very life relies on....and he was persistant in getting that stubborn drop of blood.

LORI said...


I've been trying to come up with a comment for several minutes now, but words fail me.

I just wanted to acknowledge that I read your post, and it affected me. My heart goes out to you.


Bernard said...


I'm with Lori.

Carey said...

You're right. It's both good and sad.

The "one, five, five" reminds me of Charlie. Though we're not there yet. I think I'll experience the same sadness. A very first step in the passing of the torch.

Good job, Riley. Have a great weekend.

Penny Ratzlaff said...

I'd do just about anything to take this from Riley and have it as my own.


I am glad that Riley is taking on responsibility, but I'm also very sad that he has to do it at all.

He's persistant with a lot of things. (some would say stubborn)It will do him well in the future, I think.

Lori and Bernard,
Thank you for your comments.

Those firsts are so hard and we have a lot coming up in the next few months.

Nicole P said...

Penny - I'm late. But I wanted to say I was really touched by this post. I'm always thinking the best thoughts for you and Riley - and the other moms and children of the OC - but I know I can't take the pain of these kind of moments away - and I'm so sorry. ((Penny, Riley & Family))Nicole

Lisa said...

I so know how you feel. Isabelle has been really interested in taking her own blood sugar lately so we have been letting her. It's so hard to do. I feel like I just got a handle on this disease and it is really hard to give up any responsibility.

I want her to learn to take care of herself, but it hurts everytime she masters something new. I think it is just this way with kids weather or not they have diabetes.

Anonymous said...

I also must say this comment deeply touches me. I can't begin to imagine what you go thru each & every day. And yet your Riley & you are so very strong! You have a tough little boy :) I agree w/ Lisa, it is tough when your kids learn something new to take care of themselves. My Ashley is the youngest of our 4 kids, she starts Kindergarten this fall, and it breaks my heart. It was tough when each started school, but seems harder w/ her. I think because she is the baby, I can't imagine being home a year from now all day long by myself. Luckily, I have school to focus on.
Good luck w/ your transitions this year! My heart goes out to you and your family, and especially to your Riley! What a sweety little guy :)

Sarah said...

Gracie has tried to do her own blood sugar but she just doesn’t have the dexterity yet. This post made me tear up. I know Gracie will have to do this herself one day, and I think of it maybe a little differently. I think when she learns to do things herself things will go more smoothly for her. I imagine how well my diabetes would be managed if someone else had to do it for me, and I imagine it would not be as well as it would be with myself doing it. Riley has gained a lot of tools to manage his diabetes from you, he’s on his way to independently doing it himself, and that is awesome.