Every summer my She’s go on vacation with the entire He’s family to a rented house on a beautiful lake. It’s an easy, breezy, fun week of boating, tubing, food, games, walks and laughter. It’s a vacation I enjoyed for many years before the pain of separation entered our lives. The first year my She’s went without me, they were a tender 7 and 5 years old.
When Diabetes hit the scene midway through my little She’s 11th year, we knew our biggest challenge would be taking diabetes on vacation. To a lake. On a boat. With no WiFi. One month post diagnosis the plans were set and the house was rented. The week was written on the calendar in pen. We had a mere six months to prepare.
Six months, and I was scared shitless.
Early on I was awarded the role of captain of the D-team, our parental tripod. It made sense. It was what I wanted to do, to be. As luck would have it, my husband and I were thrown into Diabetes Hell (capitalized for effect) over and over with illnesses that cursed our She. We learned about emergency diabetes response quickly and He wasn’t given the chance to learn through that experience. Sick kids want their mommy. So, if they were ever sick and it was time for a transfer to Dad’s, they simply didn’t go. And, certainly with diabetes, She just didn’t go. And, if they got sick at his house, they would come back to mine. His year for Thanksgiving and there’s an illness? I stay home cleaning puke buckets, oozing love through cuddling and administering medicines in a timely fashion. This is no fault of his, it’s just the way it is.
Since me and my husband are huge proponents of the benefits of professional counsel (he has his very own head-shrinking degree), we made an appointment for a pediatric psychologist, who also happened to have a certification in diabetes education. At the time I didn’t know we had hit the jackpot, that there were only two handfuls of them in the United States. I liked her well enough and so did the kid, so we ran with it. This was three months post diagnosis. Early on we worked in the “getting to know you” phase and pinpointed major areas of concern. My husband and I were generally set free for a while so emphasis could be placed on the He who was having difficulty embracing concepts of diabetes management. It’s not easy when one parent learns at a faster rate than another parent (even in a single house family). The light is shone on the one who isn’t quite catching on, and rightfully so. Everyone isn’t expected to be on the same page, but the expectation of safe management was a priority. Managing diabetes in two houses with people who were embracing diabetes at different rates is exhausting – for ALL parties. But, I had faith in our person to lead us down a good path, and she did.
For a full three months, work was done on preparation for this vacation. There were other things at play, such as our She being the baby of the family and not having a cousin remotely close to her age. She spent many years being thought of as a pest, while her sister wasn’t. It was an unhappy, happy time.
She didn’t want to go now that she had diabetes on board. She didn’t trust the situation and while we worked frantically to make a safe plan, I’m not too sure I did either. But she went. And I was scared shitless, but I had been on that very vacation for years, so I could sit and picture it and know what the daily routine would be. I swear if I jumped back into that vacation it would be seamless as if nothing had changed. But still, there was fear, and tears and prayer. Lots and lots of prayer and trying to trust. The six vacations apart had now become a blessing and all seemed to be going according to plan (other than the scared shitless thing on my end). Until I found out the plan we had put in place wasn’t being used in the most vulnerable of areas – Treatment For Activity. “Double the dose of treatment for activity and don’t forget to reduce the basal”. I was here, they were there. No WiFi meant no Emergency help. WTF?? What about those three months? Are you a complete idiot??
The answer to that is NO. It took me years to accept that answer as NO.
You can learn. You can plan. And when you take that plan and plop it into a busy, scary, loud, vacation with a bunch of fun-loving crazy people, you can get flummoxed and lose your head, forgetting all about the plan. I know then that I didn’t handle myself well. I remember I couldn’t get through to the house line and wound up calling my lovely sister-in-law of years past and anxiously, probably angrily, asking for the phone to be passed to him. I’m not sure I called him an idiot, but if I’m being totally fair, I probably came close. Or, oh Hell, let’s just say I probably did.
Sidenote: At this time the family members really didn’t understand the ins and outs of diabetes management, MDI, the honeymoon phase, her extreme sensitivity to activity and what administering Glucagon on a boat in a remote cove on a ginormous lake would look like. I knew. I simply KNEW. I painted the picture for him and think that image hit home.
She came home from that first vacation with diabetes on board and a depression that eventually led to suicidal ideology hit her hard. It was too hard. It was all just way too damned hard for all of us. This is where our psych/CDE really started to join our family. Together we kept her out of the hospital, she made it to middle school and the light shone bright again. And, as the vacation for the next year hit the calendar, we started earlier and worked harder than ever to assure her it would be okay. As we made changes to the plan, we were sure to include the learned tips and tricks to keep depression at bay.
As I write this post, they are at the lake. This is lake vacation number three with diabetes, and nine without me. (Can that really be?) Times have changed. She is there with her #Medtronic pump and her #Dexcom CGM (Share? There? Uhm…WiFi?). She is also there with her BRAIN. She is there with so many experiences that have given her the confidence to make good decisions in self care. And He is there, knowing more. And THEY are there, knowing more. He still takes the time to go into town where there is WiFi and records all of her numbers in the MyCareConnect BlueLoop application that I see in the form of texts and also on my computer. This is our accountability that we have grown to expect on a daily basis, vacation or no. He gets the job done.
Phone calls every night no longer consist of review of events, numbers and THE PLAN.
Am I still scared shitless? Is she still on my mind? A little here and there. A lot here and there. But at least I know there is diligence in the actions that are being taken, and that makes all the difference in the world. Even though I think I could do the best job (I’m mom after all!), He is still doing a good job. And She is doing an AMAZING job as she slowly takes over for the both of us.
Rock on, little She.