From the very beginning, I can remember being told "Always remember, it's just a number, it's not good or bad." Of course, they were referring to the number on the glucose meter- the number that tells us whether the blood sugar is too high, too low, or that magic, Goldilocks 'just right' number. In truth, the number itself has little meaning at all, it is what it symbolizes. Let me preface this little essay be telling you what is normal for a non-diabetic person. If you were to check your blood sugar when you woke up- a fasting blood sugar- it should be between 70-90 mg/dL. A blood sugar reading two hours after eating should be less than 140 mg/dL. The girls have a target blood sugar of 100 mg/dL. TJ's is a little higher at 125 mg/dL. If we had a day when all 3 kids blood sugars ranged from 100-140, I would consider that a Goldilocks day. (By the way, it has never happened; being a pancreas is ridiculously demanding. I wouldn't recommend the job to anyone.) On any given day a reading of 250 is considered high. A number like that would make me shake my head and frown and start the guessing game: Is it sickness? Bad site? Insulin gone bad? Dehydration? Full moon? Wind from the wrong direction? However, a reading of 250 after 3 readings over 500 brings a sigh of relief- we are headed in the right direction. This morning TJ did a little happy dance because his wake up blood sugar was 111. He had spent the day in the 200's yesterday- it's a big deal.
Numbers are significant not just in relation to blood sugars but in other ways as well. For example, last year, Tessa turned 13. The 13th birthday is a big deal in a happy way. The 13th Diaversary, that Taya hit last week has a totally different significance. Is it happy? Well, sure, she has LIVED with diabetes for 13 years. Is it sad? Well, sure, she has lived with DIABETES for 13 years. I think a fitting descriptive term might be bittersweet. In January, Tylie will reach her "Sweet Sixteen" Diaversary. Are you catching the irony in these last two statements or is that just poor D-mom humor?
Back to the numbers- according to the Center for Disease Control, the prevalence of T1 D in Americans under age 20 rose 23% between 2001-2009. Current estimates are that 80 people per day are diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. The rate of Type 1 diabetes in children under age 14 is expected to rise by 3% annually worldwide. Now, those numbers are disturbing- not good or bad- just flat out alarming. I do feel the need to differentiate here. I am speaking solely about Type 1 diabetes. Simply speaking, in Type 1 diabetes, the bodies immune system destroys the beta cells that produce insulin. It used to be called Juvenile-Onset Diabetes or insulin dependent diabetes. At this time, it cannot be prevented or delayed. There is no cure but there is insulin and different management options available for treatment. I will be honest, Tylie's doctor at diagnosis stated to us that she had Juvenile Diabetes. I clearly remember saying to him, "Well, if it's Juvenile, at what age will she outgrow it?" Yes, I have learned a lot in 15.5 years! Type 2 on the other hand, can be prevented or delayed by lifestyle choices. While Type 2 is rising at an equally alarming rate and I don't mean to minimize it- please, do not confuse the two types- again the number may not be good or bad, but it is significant! Well-meaning individuals telling a tiny, energetic 38 pound 4 year old that she shouldn't have eaten so many fruit snacks or asking her if she watched too much tv instead of playing outside is a bit devastating. (True story.)
Numbers- in our house, we make them a game. If two kids happen to be testing at the same time, they guess who will be closest to target. If they happen to have the same number, we laugh. If it says 123, we laugh. We laugh, because you can't cry everyday. These are numbers that the average person has no idea about. Those lucky enough to have a perky pancreas that does the thinking for them have no idea of the rise and fall in blood glucose daily. Sadly, we know almost hourly and even though we make it a game, many days it feels like there are no winners.
I am reading a book right now called, Daring Greatly , by Brene Brown. I started reading it as a teacher but there has been a lot of take away for me as a mother. In the book, she states that we have to recognize that "we are enough." That is a hard one for me because I like things to be perfect and neat. I like to know the answers in advance. Yeah, uh huh, I know, I am a parent and more, the parent of three T1D kids- life is not neatly wrapped and I cannot do or predict it all. (Wow- I just said that!) Another significant point in the book is in regard to taking risks. I see these two going hand in hand because in my effort to make life be neat and tidy, I have not always let people really understand the impact of T1D on our lives. People looking in often say we make it look so easy. I think I am doing a disservice to my children and all those other families living with T1 by letting people believe that. It's hard, hard 24 hour, 7 days a week, 365 days a year work! The risk I have decided to take on this year is educating and advocating. If people don't want to hear about it, they don't have read my social media posts or my blog. For me to accept that I am enough, I need to feel I am doing enough. I might write a thousand posts and people may read only one thing that they can take away. That number is neither good, nor bad- it is significant.