Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Funny Little Side Note...

*Just to clear up any confusion: this is a blog about my adventure with diabetes and my new insulin pump. Thus the title, "Every Day I'm Pumping."

When I first started this blog, I ended up Googling the title to see how it might come up in the results (and to also see if there already were other diabetes-related blogs with this title). The good news is (I guess it's good news), there aren't many personal diabetes/insulin pump blogs out there. In fact, I have found absolutely no blogs written by teen diabetics, which is kind of sad. I KNOW YOU'RE OUT THERE, YOU LOVELY TEEN DIABETICS. So start blogging. We need to unite in the blogosphere (for the record, I've never used that word in actual conversation before, and probably never will).

Anyway, so there's a shortage of personal diabetes-related blogs. But that's not the point of this post.

The "bad news," on the other hand, is that there is an OCEAN FULL of blogs out there about motherhood, and more specifically, breastfeeding. So you can guess what came up when I Googled the title of this blog.

"My Pumping Story: How I Handled Breastfeeding"
"How to Pump Enough Milk Every Day"
"Pumping: The Dos and Don'ts"
"Why You Should Love Pumping"
"Confessions of an Extreme Pumper"
"The Low-Down on Pumping: How To Feed Your Baby With The Nectar of Your Bosom"


Needless to say, I *almost* changed the title, but I liked it so much that I kept it. On the bright side, while my blog might get mistaken for a site about pumping breast milk, I now have a hilarious story to tell.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

"Free At Last" (Part 6)

It’s a gorgeous day. I wobble out to the car with Mom and the nurse-in-training who took my vitals this morning. I was tentative to let her “experiment” on me, but I trusted that she had had enough training to know what she was doing. I hadn’t keeled over yet, so I guess she did. We take the elevator down to the first floor, leaving behind all the hospital beds and IVs and entering into the playful-looking main lobby of Levine Children’s Hospital. It has color everywhere and toys scattered among the chairs. I remember when I was first wheeled in here, and people in the lobby stared at me. I had wondered if I looked that bad. We break out of the hospital and into the sunshine. It feels so warm and beautiful it feels foreign. If two days in the hospital do this to a person, I can’t imagine how people feel that stay in there for weeks. 

I sit with the nurse and make awkward idle chat while Mom gets the car. I’m loaded in and wave good-bye to the nurse, who waves back, the promptly returns to the hospital to go “experiment” on some other poor soul. The windows down, we roll through uptown Charlotte with the sun pouring into the window, onto my pale skin and on my face. It feels like it’s healing me just by its touch. It’s better medicine than anything the doctors and nurses could have given me. I see people walking, going about their business on this Sunday afternoon. I’m going home. I’m really going home. I start planning what I’m going to do when I get there. I’m going to go up to my room. I’m going to take a shower- the first I’ve had in days. I’m going to have a few Ritz crackers and water and sit on the porch to read some in Jane Eyre. I let the sunshine kiss my face. Oh Lord, you are so good to me. So, so good to me…

"Sleepless Night" (Part 5)

I wish I was home. I wish I was home. Where there aren’t nurses coming in and out, testing my blood sugar every four hours. Where it’s quiet. Where there isn’t any loud beeping from machines if I accidentally kink my IV. Where the bed is soft. Where the sheets are warm. Where I can wear my comfy pajamas and not these clothes I’ve been wearing since this morning. Where I can snuggle down into the mass of blankets and sleep. And forget all these things that have happened today. That I’ve found out about my body. Like a major organ not doing its job. Where I can push away all the worries that I have. The confusion. The questions like, “What am I going to do? What am I supposed to do?? Am I really going to have to deal with this for the rest of my life???” 

I’m still not used to the needles and constant pain in my fingers from the continual pricks, so I’m laying here in this hard hospital bed, watching the clock, waiting till a night nurse comes in and pricks me again. I try to keep my arm straight so that the IV won’t kink up, but the needle is in my right arm and the stand is on the left side of the bed, so I’m juggling this cord over my stomach. That makes it hard to lie in any position except on my back, which I’ve been doing ALL DAY. Or at least for five hours at the doctor’s office this morning. Whenever I roll over, though, the cord kinks and the machine it’s attached to beeps loudly till a nurse comes in to calm it down. Daddy is staying with me tonight and he keeps snoring, so there’s no peace in this god-forbidden place. A shadow just moved behind the door. Yes, here she comes again. That brown-hair nurse to prick my finger. Lord, help me get through this never ending night.

Monday, August 11, 2014

"Hospital" (Part 4)

We finally make it there. It feels funny being the one admitted into the hospital. We park along the curb instead of in one of the parking decks. I’m desiring sleep more than ever now. A man slowly gets me a wheel chair. I want him to hurry. We go through the lobby of the big children’s hospital. It’s just like I remembered it from last time. Colorful and playful, like the children’s theatre a couple blocks away. But the last time I was here, visiting a friend, I would have laughed in your face if you had told me that the next time I came here would be for me. Because I would be sick. I never thought I would have to stay here. But here I am. 

The receptionists and a few people in the lobby stare at me as we hurry past. Do I really look that bad? What DO I look like? I know I probably look horrible- I hadn’t showered in days, I had my rattiest sweat pants on, and I don’t even remember brushing my hair that morning. We ride up in the elevator- I’m glad no one else is on with us. We finally get to a room. But it lacks what I want most- a bed. It takes them awhile to find one, so I wait wearily on the little couch in the room. I just want to sleep. I finally get in bed. Daddy comes. He holds my hand as they stick me again and again- first with an insulin drip, then taking blood. After that a rather loud, curly-haired, funny looking man comes in. He’s the doctor. He talks for what seems like a long time, but it’s only about 10 minutes. I don’t even remember what he says. I just know he keeps saying something like, “It’s going to be a big adjustment” or “It’s not going to be fun” or something negative like that. I wonder why he keeps saying that- I thought doctors were supposed to comfort. The lights in the room are too bright. I just want to sleep. In my own bed. At home. In my dark, familiar room. Not here. Not here where it’s busy and bright and machines keep beeping. Not here.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

"Drive" (Part 3)

The kind nurse that gave me apple juice wheels me out to the car. They mentioned an ambulance, but I think mom was scared enough as it was, so she offered to drive. They help me in, IV and all. I lean the seat back, almost wishing for that hard, uncomfortable examining table again, so I could at least stretch my legs out. Now I don’t want any more apple juice- just sleep. Oh precious sleep. But I keep myself awake looking out the window at streets I’ve been down numerous times. I know if I fall asleep, I’ll have to be woken up when we arrive at the hospital. 

Mom talks to me a little. I don’t remember what she says. But we head toward town, and I see the tall buildings I’ve always admired, and dreamed of living amongst. And I see the sunset. Red and pink, the round sun glows as it makes its final descend of the day. It’s like it’s making its mark so that we’ll remember it later. I wonder what my friends are doing this lovely Friday evening. Partying? Having sleepovers? Going to the movies? I wonder if they know. If they know about me yet. I wonder if they feel sad. Are they worried? I don’t want them to be- I’m not. Are they praying? I hope so, oh, I hope so. I need that more than this IV. More than insulin. I want it more than food. More than a soft, long bed to stretch my weary joints out on. I need their prayers. But I have what’s most important- God’s love. His peace flows through me. And I’ve never needed it more than now.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

"Diagnosis" (Part 2)

I’m not scared. And that fact really surprises me. Normally, I hate this place. I hate the needles. I hate the antiseptic smell. But my whole body feels like it’s shutting down. Like it can’t do its job of keeping me alive any longer. My head feels fuzzy and heavy, my nose keeps dripping, and my throat feels clogged with something thick. My arms arch from lying in the same position for many hours. I don’t want to move-I’m too tired. And the IV sticking into my arm keeps me from rolling over. I stare at the white ceiling, a dim light coming through the blinds on the window. It’s early afternoon, but I haven’t eaten since last night. The applesauce and toast are long gone. And I haven’t drank hardly anything today. Hence the IV. 

But I’m not hungry and I’m afraid to drink. Every time I do, I taste the mucus in my throat and it’s all I can do to keep the liquid down. The apple juice they gave me earlier tasted marvelous…sweet and refreshing. But I hate to keep asking for more. Mom is called out into the hall by the nurse. Then I hear voices. I know they think I can’t hear, but I can. They’re talking about me. I catch strands of conversation. Then the doctor comes in. He leans down and asks me how I’m doing. I wonder if he expects me to lie and say I’m fine, because it’s obvious I’m not. Then he says it. If I had known this moment would come, I would have imagined that I would be blown away. Shocked. And scared. But I’m not. I don’t feel anything at all. It was like I knew it was coming. I’m numb.

Friday, August 8, 2014

"The Before" (Part 1)

Several months after being diagnosed with T1D, I wrote a series of descriptive narratives based on the events surrounding my diagnosis. It was like nothing that had ever happened to me before, and so it resulted in these creative... whatever-you-want-to-call-thems. You could say I puked up my emotions onto a page, but I like to think these "stories" evolved a little more beautifully than that. Either way, it felt good to get it out, and this was how it came out, and now I'm deciding to share it on the Internet, so yeah. Enjoy. 

P.S.- If you're a new diabetic, I encourage you to do this sort of thing, too. Not the sharing on the Internet thing, necessarily. But getting your emotions out (about ANY transition in your life, health-related or not) is simply the best thing to do sometimes. So I encourage you to find a way to do that, and then do it. 

I sit here. Numb. Cold. Sleepy. The music usually sounds lovely, but today choir practice is grating on my nerves. I just want to go home. I slump lower in my chair. Mom forced me to go. Well, not forced. But she didn’t want me to miss anything, so it’s all for my good. Besides, she doesn’t know how bad I feel. It’s probably just a little cold. Everyone has gotten sick this winter, so now it’s finally my turn. But I’ve never had a cold this bad before. I just want to sleep. Everything seems hazy and foggy. Charlotte sits beside me, singing beautifully, probably wondering my in the world I’m not. I can’t. My throat hurts and even though I’ve drank what seems like gallons of water today, I can’t seem to clear it. It feels thick and heavy. No, there is no way I’m singing today. Ouch. A headache’s starting. All this music, probably. I just want to get out of here. I could go to the bathroom and sit in a stall. No, this seat is more comfortable. I thought about calling Mom and asking her to come get me, but we only have another half hour of practice left. I can do it. I can make it through. Then it’s home and relaxation. Pizza and a movie with the family. Presents. Did I forget to mention, it’s my 16th birthday?

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

My Diabetes Story

If you're looking for the first post, you've come to the right place. And I guess since this is the first post, I should start from the beginning, because that's normally where "firsts" happen. =)

A new beginning happened to me when I turned sixteen. I was still in the awkward phase (thankfully approaching the last of it), still trying to figure out my fashion sense, and still trying to figure out who in the world I was. I guess you can say that my diabetes diagnosis helped me out on that last one. Because as diabetics, if we're all honest, diabetes is a part of YOU. Not all of YOU, but a big part.

I remember having a sleepover birthday party. Inviting all my weird friends over (you know who you you all), eating loads of junk food, watching a movie, and having a very very very rich double chocolate cheesecake. I look back and wonder what that did to my blood sugar, haha. I remember someone passing a cold around to all the people at my party, even me. My cold turned out to be the flu, which was a new experience for me. I'd always been healthy growing up; when strep was being passed around, I was the one who never got it. Never got chicken pox, mumps, measles, none of it. I had never bothered getting a flu shot because I never got it (not to fear- I get one every year now).

So I caught the flu, and it was awful. Just like the Kleenex commercials advertise; it was definitely not fun. I had the whole mucus-draining-in-the-throat thing going on, which only gave me stomach aches, which only made me not want to eat. And I wasn't really drinking enough, either, because of, well, the stupid mucus (sorrysorrysorry that was super gross!). Finally, after being downright pitiful for three or four days, my mom took one look at my ugly ashen face and decided a trip to the doctor was in order. I was happy not moving a muscle, but after several minutes of refusing to climb out of bed, and my mom threatening to call an ambulance (I really must have looked horrible), I found myself at the doctor's office.

Let me stop here to share this little tidbit: the doctor's office has never ever ever been my favorite place. It doesn't even make the top 100 list. One reason for this (aside from going to a really crappy pediatrician for my entire childhood): the needles. There always seemed to be poking and stabbing involved, which was never pleasant. On top of that, I was a....special...child. I was the child who would run and scream when the nurse came to give me a shot or poke my finger. I made myself sick for weeks before a doctor's appointment. Just the mention of a doctor's appointment turned my stomach. Oh yeah. It was that bad.

So while I vaguely remember not being thrilled at being at the doctor's that day, I was apparently so sick that my needle phobia was the farthest thing from my mind. Even when they stabbed me with an IV because of my dehydrated state (this happens when you don't drink...I have learned you need water. A lot of it.).

So, a whole lot of time passed, and I was still stuck in this room at the doctor's with a needle in my arm, and I really really wanted juice. So I drank some apple juice while my mom ate some leftover barbecue that the nurses ate for lunch. And while my mom was chatting with the friendly barbecue-eating nurses, she mentioned how I had been losing a ton of weight, and drinking a lot of water (before the whole flu thing), and peeing all the time and basically being a monster because of those teenage mood swings. And isn't that weird but kind of normal because, ya know, she's sixteen and it's a teenager thing (the common excuse for all my misdemeanors since age 13).

Obviously, all this struck a chord with the nurses, and they knew something probably wasn't right, so they checked my blood sugar. And voila! Five freaking hundred.

I remember hearing the doctor talking with my mom outside the cracked door, whispering about something. Hearing something like, "We just need to tell her now." And then the doctor came in and said, "Shelby, hey, you have Type 1 Diabetes."

And I was just like, "Ok. That's nice. Can I have some more juice? Or better yet, can I go home?" I don't really think it had sunk in yet that I had just been diagnosed with, well, a disease. Or maybe I was just too sick to care. But if you're wondering, I literally felt NOTHING right then. I wasn't shocked, I wasn't scarred, I was just cool with it in that moment. Anyway, my juice was taken away, because heaven knows that was only spiking my blood sugar even more, and I was moved into a wheelchair and pushed out to the car. And if you've ever been in a wheelchair in public before, for legit reasons, you'll know that it makes you feel super important (at least that's the feeling it gave me). Our minivan was turned into a makeshift ambulance, and my mother shuttled me to Levine Children's Hospital uptown. The sun was setting, and I remember watching it on the ride over. And I also remember having not eaten anything that day, but that was ok.

That's the gist of it, basically. The rest isn't nearly as exciting. We got to the hospital, and it was so crowded that they had to whip together a room for me. I remember my dad showing up, and we were all trying to figure out what was going on, and ohmygosh Shelby has diabetes, and what the heck is diabetes, and then I konked out until the next morning. The weekend was filled with educator after educator coming in and explaining the same stuff to me (the main diabetes educator was out for the weekend, so they sent basically everyone else to me to try to clear up confusion. And I'm not criticizing- they did a wonderful job!).

The rest of the weekend was filled with testing out the cafeteria options on the diabetic menu (surprisingly tasty), watching TV from my hospital bed, trying to figure out how to get to the bathroom with an IV stand, getting a bunch of lovely flowers and cards from people I know and people I don't know, listening to my dad snore during the night (love you daddy!), trying to figure out how to sleep with a needle in my arm, enjoying the Charlotte skyline from my hospital room window, and being suspicious of nurses-in-training ("Can I take your temperature? Can I ask you a few questions about your health? Can I experiment on you for the furtherance of my education?" Sure lady, as soon as you're a real nurse).

I was finally released on Sunday, and I felt like I had not seen the sun in twenty years. I came home, ate three Ritz crackers, put on the sweat jacket I got for my birthday the week before, and sat outside with my family until it got cold. And that's basically how I functioned after that: day by day. Sometimes I still function day by day. It's a rough life sometimes, and sometimes it can be scary, but you just have to know that someone has it worse than you. It might seem hard, it might even seem overwhelming, but if you take it day by day, and trust in Jesus, you'll make it through.

That's my diabetes story. =)