Tonawanda News

August 1, 2013

CRIB NOTES: Daughter's challenge brings new definition of 'normal'

Paul Lane
The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News —

I generally am fairly good at describing situations. But not today.

This just plain sucks.

I am sitting with Penny in a room at Women's and Children's Hospital. She got here with her mother yesterday. She went to the pediatrician with complaints of frequent thirst and a couple irritations.

She was supposed to get a medication or whatnot and then make it for her soccer game.

Instead, she's been diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.

So, instead of spending our day at Fantasy Island or down by Niagara Falls, we are playing Uno on a hospital bed while I await the next part of my training on how to treat my daughter's diabetes.

Not exactly the way I thought my week would go when it began.

Now, I know we can handle anything. That's what we Lanes do. But the more I learned about The Artist Formerly Known as Juvenile Diabetes, the more my head spun.

One unit of insulin for every 20 grams of carbs consumed. Got it.

Try to avoid carbs at snacks. Not that hard.

When the blood sugar measures above 240, subtract by 150 and then divide by 150 to determine the corrective dose of insulin to inject. Um, OK.

Here's a handy book containing roughly 17,000 food items and their carb counts so you can constantly monitor what Penny is eating. Uh ...

The proper spot to prick Penny's finger is just off the tip. And make sure you give the insulin injections in the back of the upper arm, upper thigh or top of the butt.

OK. "Butt" is still kinda funny to hear, especially when a 5-year-old (6 by the time you read this - happy belated birthday, baby girl!) giggles uncontrollably upon hearing the word. But I have to stick needles in her?

Neither of us liked that idea. It seemed to hit her worse, though. The first injection I gave her yielded a shriek that would have scared away the hungriest flesh-eating zombie. The next few times weren't quite as bad, but she was still quite apprehensive.

So was I. Not about giving the injections or keeping track of her intake. But the thought that she wouldn't have a completely "normal" childhood saddened me. She'd have to forever carry around insulin and worry about every morsel of food she's offered.

It broke my heart to think she would have to take all these special steps. I know full well that, as far as pediatric health, a few shots and some math are way better than some families have it. I would not change anything at all about her, not only because she's my special baby but also because a lot of parents and their deals have real ordeals to contend with.

But still, this was new. And scary. But I had to stay strong for her. So I did.

She left the hospital after a one-night stay, then there a few days where I was at work and didn't see her much. But, since I come home so late to begin with, my job has become to stay up just a little bit longer than normal for a middle of the night blood sugar reading.

I am quite tired, well, always. But tacking another hour onto the end of my day takes a lot out of me. So arming me with a needle may not be the best idea hour after four straight days of four hours sleep.

I accidentally woke her up during the procedure. To my pleasure, she was quick to correct me. She grabbed the little pen that gives the pin prick, grasping it with the mastery a kindergartner has over her 1-year-old brother's shape and color toys. I'm pretty sure she twirled it a couple times, looking like Neil Pert spinning drumsticks around his fingers.

"No, Daddy. That's not right. Do it like this."

She stuck herself, squeezed out a small drop of blood and fed the reader.

"It's OK, Daddy. You'll do better next time. You just need practice."

I chuckled. I tucked her in. I smiled and kissed her on the forehead. I thought then that everything would be just perfect.

I knew everything would be perfect the next day, when I tried to measure her sugar level before lunch and she insisted I wait until lunch was served so as to not leave a gap of time between pricking and eating.

And when she showed some her friends how she measures her blood? Well, the last ounce of worry dissipated.

I can't help but feel concern for my children. But time and time again, no matter the obstacle, they show a resilience that would be a million-dollar seller if it could be bottled and sold. 

As for "normal?" Well, I'm realizing that's really a word without a definition. Whatever we make of life IS normal.

And that does not suck.

Contact Paul Lane at pjlnews@ymail.com.