Friday, March 23, 2012

Low Places

As with everything else in my very type-A life, I began thinking about what my life as a parent with diabetes would be like long before I was even pregnant.  True to my need-to-know-everything-about-anything-that-affects-me form, I read a book on the subject last year 
(When You're a Parent With Diabetes: A Real Life Guide to Staying Healthy While Raising a Family by Kathryn Gregorio Palmer).  It's a great book with tons of tips for managing your disease in the context of parenting, and I highly recommend it.  Of course, no matter how much reading you do, nothing ever really prepares you for reality quite like...well, reality.

I knew theoretically that there would be times when my diabetes got in the way of parenting to the point that I'd sometimes have to put taking care of my disease before taking care of my child (the whole "putting on your own oxygen mask before trying to save your children" thing); however, I never imagined how bad this would actually suck in practice.  Before when I had a low, even a bad one, it wasn't much cause for concern.  I'd treat it, wait a bit, and go on with my life.  Now, though, there's another little person who is completely dependent on me to think about.  When I have a low, I have to drop what I'm doing with her to treat it, which usually means leaving her there to cry on her own for what in reality is only a minute or two but in my world seems like an eternity.  Probably the suckiest time that this happens is when I've just sat down and have everything situated to feed her, only to have to leave our comfy home base (aka, the recliner) to find something with sugar as quickly as possible so she doesn't break into one of those gut-wrenching, inconsolably angry crying jags.  Ordinarily, getting up from a chair wouldn't be a big deal; however, when you're (severely) sleep deprived and are trying your best to satisfy a crying baby, it's an entirely different story.

I've also been letting my numbers run slightly higher than normal, especially at night, because now the fear of the low you don't wake up from has an entirely new dimension.  Our poor baby would undoubtedly go hungry until morning, because although the hubby helps me as much as he can when he's home, he just doesn't wake up at night.  The first two nights in the hospital, he woke at her every, sometimes I think it'd take a freight train to wake him up!  One of our first weeks at home, I remember having a pretty bad low during the night.  I turned the lamp above our bed on and went to get some glucose tablets, then came back to our bedroom to wait it out.  15 minutes later, my blood sugar still hadn't risen much, so I grabbed some orange juice from the fridge in the kitchen and crossed my fingers.  My blood sugar was back in the normal range after that, but I was hit with the realization that (a) my hubby (aka, the slumbering log in bed next to me) didn't even know I was up and (b) the baby wasn't going to be much help if I passed out.

Since then, I've made sure to keep a close eye on my numbers before bed, and set temporary basal rates if necessary to keep me hovering above 100.  Of course, this inevitably leads to slightly higher numbers first thing in the morning; however, at this point I'd much rather run a bit higher on average than to risk the danger of a horrible low at night...there's just too much at stake now!

When I was pregnant, I had to keep a super close eye on my diabetes because it very directly affected the baby growing inside me.  Thanks to the hormonal changes that come with pregnancy, it was very difficult to keep my numbers in a tight range.  I figured it would be a lot easier after the baby was born, and in a way it is...because my hormones have returned to normal, I no longer have to take massive amounts of insulin to cover my carbs at meals, and my patterns are a lot more predictable.  However, the fact that my baby is no longer directly affected by highs (but just as much by lows) makes me a lot more laid-back when it comes to my blood sugars than I was before.  Don't be mistaken; highs still frustrate me and I'm still concerned with keeping my average in a reasonable range; but at this point, I'm more concerned with the lows than the highs.  Once I get a better handle on the parenting thing, I know I'll return to my perfectionist style of diabetes management...for now, though, I'm okay with good enough.


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