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Saturday, August 24, 2013

Mom, I don't know where my pump is...

Yes, you read that right...a quote from my daughter this past week as we were getting ready for dinner!  What's going through your mind right now?  I wonder, is it the same that went through mine at that moment? Upon refection now, I think I had the right reaction "outside", but, I promise you inside, I was a little bit of a mess!

Lots of feelings, lots of talking to myself and trying to sort out just what was going on.

The day started out well enough.  I'm working full time now, a move we desperately needed to make not only to make ends meet, but to gain insurance for our kids, especially for Caitie's diabetes needs.  I go to work after I make breakfast for my dad, who we share a home with, too.  It is summer, so, the girls are sleeping in when they can, although, this week, my oldest is back to cross country practice in the morning, one sure sign that summer is almost over.  I let Caitie sleep in, no need to wake my slumbering teenager only for me to kiss her goodbye and head off to work.

Mornings are pretty routine most of the time.  I get up in the wee hours, to check Caitie, to get the coffee going, to have a moment to gather my thoughts before the house starts to stir.  I make breakfast, then I go in and check Caitie.  She's lying so still, every morning I hold my breath, frantic thoughts running through my mind each over the other, 'is she okay?' ' is she breathing?!' 'oh, Lord, please take care of my baby...' 'go test her' ... I find myself tiptoeing over to the bed and whispering, "Caitie, hon, are you okay?"  I kiss her on the forehead and catch her quiet breathing.  I smile, catch a tear, and sigh.  "Thank you," I whisper, and I kiss her forehead again.  I take the test kit and prick her finger, all while she sleeps.  I watch the meter count down and make my calculations and predictions.  She's okay.  She'll be okay for a few hours and I'll call and check on her.  I whisper to her that I'll be calling and place the phone by her bed.  I give her hand a squeeze and she nods in her sleep and I tiptoe back out of the to work I go.

Yes, my father shares our home, and, he's home most of the time during the summer.  But, he has shared with me that the management of this disease is more than he can handle, and, I respect him for being honest.  Diabetes still scares him to death, and, I do understand that all too well.  Caitie is also 13 years old, having lived this life for nearly as many years.  She can manage very well on her own.  It is only the unknown moments that still scare me.  But I try Never to let her see that.  This girl is the best positive, proactive teenager I know with diabetes, and, we live the life that she can do anything, with just a little planning.  So, I've planned to call her in a couple of hours, just to make sure all is well and she is ready for another day.

This day, she is going to a birthday party for one of her friends -- a swimming party at a local pool.  Perfect timing for it!  The heat of the summer is here and it is a great way to spend a summer day!  My dad is going to give her a ride there and we've gone over the protocol for the day-bring your swim suit, a towel, sunscreen, detangler for your beautiful long hair that turns into a rat's nest with water... and, your test kit, extra strips, extra pump sets, your kit with all the other diabetes necessities, quick sugar, etc. etc.  Oh, and have fun!!!

She does, she has a great day with friends, home just before me as I drive home from work.  We've checked in through the Mom Network throughout the day and all went well, she was dropped off safe and sound.  I come in the house, and we start to chat about the party and how everyone is not looking forward to summer's end.  I move around the kitchen getting dinner ready-Dad's got to eat by 6-it is just his thing--and Caitie goes back to playing with the dog.  We are eating in shifts tonight due to schedules, late snacks at the pool and, the fact that it is leftover night and some people are not pleased with the menu.  :)

Just finishing up dinner, Caitie starts to get hungry.  She goes in the kitchen to fix a plate and then she pops her head around the corner.  Here it comes... "Mom, I don't know where my pump is!"  She says it with a straight face, and there's just a hint of a tremor in her voice.  I say what I'm assuming any parent would say at this point..."What?"  ...

(Now I should point out here, for those of you reading who aren't real familiar with an insulin pump,or insulin pump therapy, the pump is what gives my daughter her life sustaining insulin 24/7. It is what she is hooked up to every minute of the day (except when she's swimming or bathing) and it gives her a continuous drip of insulin to help her live.  When she swims, the exercise often plays the role of keeping her blood sugar in check so she often doesn't need to administer the normal insulin at this time...when she's swimming, and, sometimes, for some time after due to extended blood glucose balances.)

However, we are a few hours past the pool time and, several miles from the pool.  So, I ask again, "What did you say?"  "I can't find my pump!  I thought it was in my bag, but, I just looked and it isn't in there!"

So, I think, A.  What is your blood sugar?  If you haven't had your pump on all this time... B.  Where did you last have it?  and C.  Oh my gosh, did we get this thing on our homeowner's policy?!!  The reality is starting to set in...we can administer shots to get her what she needs, until we find the pump, but, that pump is several thousands of dollars, if it is gone, ... ... a lump forms in my throat.  The money is one thing, to be sure, but, I'm concerned for my daughter...she shows me the meter, she's 61.  Low!  Wow!  Never thought I'd be cheering a low!  We make a peanut butter sandwich, grab a juice box and I call the pool.

They're just about to leave for the night, but, can I hang on a second?  Sure... "we found something like a black belt thing...with a that it?"  "Yes!  That's her belt that she keeps it the pump in there???"  Silence.  "Hello?!"  "Oh, sorry, yeah, I was just checking, it's a blue square-ish thing?"  "Yes!  Thank You!  Can I please come and get it right now?!"

Relief.  We jump in the car, silently.  I'm still whirring with all of the what if's, Caitie is pale and quiet.  She wipes a few tears away.  I then gain perspective.  We have lived with diabetes for 13 years.  She has taken on the role of adult far too soon with so many serious things, so much responsibility when it comes to her health.  In 13 years we have had two incidents of a misplaced pump.  Two in 13 years, that is really not that bad!

(The first was at a waterpark playland 3 stories tall.  She went in with the pump and came out with the tubing and that was it...and, yes, those 3 stories had 3 different ball pits!  We miraculously found the pump, but, that is another story for another time!)

We got to the pool and we were reunited with The Pump.  Caitie's color returned to her face, a smile crept in and I gave the pool attendants a very healthy tip and a gigantic thank you.  They didn't get it--what their finding the pump meant, but, I tried to share how appreciative we were anyway.

I told this story to my boss the next day, characterizing it as "Do you want to hear about a Worst Nightmare Ever scenario for a diabetes mom?"  She listened and then told me to write about it--she said this is one of those "behind the scenes", "no one would ever know" moments.  The fact that my 13 year old wears a device that is keeping her alive, that it costs thousands of dollars we don't have, and, that we are lucky our insurance covers.  "Back in the day" when we first put Caitie on the pump, we were told it was a "luxury item".  It still makes my blood run hot when I think about it now.  A Luxury Item!  This device that keeps her alive!  Harumphf!  And, shame on an insurance company for judging care.  But I digress... :)

In the end, I guess this is what I want you to know, those of you blessed enough to read this without an attachment to day in the life is "just another day".  From the moment we wake up, all through the day, through the good, the bad, the misplaced moment in a teenager's life, this life is full of surprises and challenges.  Yes, just like you, ups, downs, all-arounds.

That night I tucked my baby in, I kissed her forehead, I told her I loved her, and I asked her to test her blood sugar.  She pricked her finger with a sigh, and recited the number after the beep.  One more squeeze and I turned off the light as I walked out the door.  I stopped in the doorway and turned around, "You have your pump on, right?  ;)"  Another teenage sigh, "Yes, Mommmm."

I've heard from many a mother's worry never goes away.  I also think a mother's duty never goes away, either.  As I lay down to go to sleep for a few hours before the next test, I thought to myself, should I be working?  Shouldn't I have been there to make sure she had her pump?  Guilt crept in.  Have I left too early, to leave her to all this disease is?  I decided, for better, worse, or for the simple fact that we are where we are, that this was a good lesson.  For all of us.  No real harm done.  And, I've heard growing pains are difficult and, yes, painful.  This was one of those, I think.  Live, and Learn.  I know my daughter will be checking her pump's whereabouts a little more often - at least for a little while!  And, I will be checking in a little more, too...trying to ask all the right questions.  Now on the list, yep, you got it, "Do you have your pump on?!"