I'm not your "big planner" kind of girl. I'm more of a "we'll figure it out when we get there" kind of a girl. "A little of this, a little of that" type of girl. An "I hate math (and science, and baking)" kind of girl, because exact things tend to suffocate me. I find that most of my thoughts land in the grey, because black and white thinking feels too restrictive. In theory, I'm fairly spontaneous. Not like, "Let's pack up the car and head to Montana (random)" kind of spontaneous - but like, "today's a good day to paint the bedroom." Or, "Sure, we can pack up our pancakes and eat breakfast by the river," level of spontaneity. I mostly despise having plans (and not just because I'm an introvert). The holidays cripple me because people start asking about our PLANS. I don't know. Plans feel so commitment-y.
Enter Type 1 Diabetes (see previous post). Type 1 Diabetes is basically a spontaneous experiment (not the good, fun, feel good kind of spontaneity) happening inside the body at all times that one must use math and planning to keep up with. All the math. All the planning.
Let me back up for a second. I need to be clear here. In my mind, there's a difference between planning, and being prepared. I am basically a Master Preparer. And maybe that's what gives me the confidence to be low-key spontaneous. Because let's say we did jump in the car and head to Montana, I can assure you that I'd already have 10 days worth of shelf-stable foods, plus blankets, quarters for pay phones (they might still be somewhere), water, gardening gloves, flare sticks, and rain boots somewhere in my trunk. Oh, and hand warmers. Plus candy.
I quickly learned that as the parent of a T1D, I must always be prepared. I must always think 10 steps ahead to ensure we're not screwed if my daughter's blood glucose goes too high, or too low. This typically means I always have a lot of snacks packed up for wherever we go, plus extra insulin on hand (because, hello, I also have generalized anxiety disorder, and one never knows when one could become stranded). It didn't take me long to turn my anxious preparedness into my #t1dmama superpower. I can prepare like a boss.
But the planning. Oh.my.word. The planning. The math-ing. The exact-ing. My brain wasn't built for stuff like this. I dumpster dive more than I'd like to admit, realizing I've tossed the pasta box into the recycling bin before noting how many grams of carbs are in one serving. Tonight was one of those nights. I served my daughter up, wrote down the carbs, politely asked Alexa to do the carb:insulin ratio for me, and threw away the packaging. When my daughter came to grab her plate, she innocently asked for a little more because she was really hungry.
My brain short-circuited. I had to do more math. More counting. More planning. As I was scooping her another serving, I thought "I don't want to do this anymore! I don't want to plan every meal by carb count. I don't want to plan out how we'll respond if this ratio is inaccurate. I don't want to plan the hours between dinner and bedtime, and have to do the math to know when we'd need a correction if she's too high, or plan how much juice to leave on her bedside table in case she goes low. I don't want to plan what time I'll set my middle of the night alarm for. I don't want to do this diabetes thing anymore."
And you wanna know what interrupted that train of thought? Hearing that ever-recognizable clicking of my daughter's insulin pen as she primed it for her dinner dose. Today alone, she has given herself more injections than I've gotten (by highly skilled professionals) in 10 years. I'm not the victim of this disease. For the love of God, I'M NOT THE VICTIM HERE.
My daughter, at just 11 years old, is learning how to take care of her health in ways that most grown-ass adults will never have to experience. She has to monitor her blood sugars all the live-long day. She has to think about what she's eating. When she's eating. Where she will inject herself. How much insulin she will inject. What each continuous glucose monitor alarm means. Whether or not she has rescue candy with her at all times. If she'll be exercising in the cold (her blood glucose sinks), or if she's drinking enough water.
Of course, I help her manage most of the responsibilities above, but the truth of the matter is that she has generalized anxiety, too - which causes her to fixate on all of these details, too. At 11 years old, her job is to be a kid. A carefree kid. And here I am, in the kitchen, feeling sorry for myself.
The "Asshole Parent of the Year" Award goes to me. Insert Snoop Dogg here (because it's my blog and I can quote whomever I want): “I want to thank me for believing in me, I want to thank me for doing all this hard work. I wanna thank me for having no days off....." I earned the title on my own merit. What.a.jerk.
Type 1 Diabetes never goes away. There's not a cure (yet). Neglecting it will cost my daughter her life. Pretending it's not there would be deadly. Failing to plan would be fatal. Sure, we live in a day and age where science and technology (I am equally as thankful for the exacting, as I am quick to admit it's not my strength) have us closer to a foolproof artificial pancreas than we've ever been (hallelujah and all the amens) - but the consequences are the same. Critical.
Each night as I tuck my daughter in, I remind her that it's now my job to watch her blood sugars. I remind her that I've got it from here, and that her job is to sleep. And you know what she does? She gives it to me. She puts her trust into my hands. She turns her life over into my care. Is there a responsibility greater than that? No. The answer is, unequivocally, no. Every parent and caretaker understands the gravity of such trust.
So, when I heard that click of her insulin pen, I was immediately put in my place. Yes, this is hard. Yes it can be exhausting and frustrating....but, it's not mine. It's her burden. While I will help her carry it for as long as she'll let me - there will come a day when she's moved out of our home, living on her own, and carrying the weight of this disease all.by.herself. The thought brings me to my knees, as I beg Jesus to keep her safe. To keep her from burning out. To keep her from giving up when she feels like she doesn't want to do this anymore - because those days WILL come. She'll grow tired, and I won't be there to do the math for her when that happens. I won't be able to stay awake, so that she can sleep just down the hall.
In conclusion, note to self: Buckle up, buttercup. It's ok to be tired. It's ok to wish this weren't so. It's ok to grieve, and curse, and stomp your feet. But do not spend more than a minute there - because there is one brave 11 year old looking to you to learn resilience and fortitude. So, treat it like the honor that it is, and stay.in.the.ring. She won't need you in her corner forever, and when that happens, you'll long for the days of fatiguing planning, because at least then, you knew she was safe.