Now don’t worry, this post is not about the highs and lows of our Christmas break, haha. 🙂 No, this post is about the highs and lows of living with diabetes… literally and figuratively. Oh Sarah, December was a crazy month for her and her diabetes.
She’s actually had diabetes for over a year now as she was diagnosed December 20th 2012 (a day we did NOT celebrate) and it’s become a part of our life now, but it’s something we can never become complacent about. Thankfully – and this is totally God’s goodness towards us – until the beginning of this December, taking care of Sarah was fairly straightforward and this was because she was still in what is called the “honeymoon phase” of diabetes.
The honeymoon phase is when you still have some Beta cells (insulin producers) left in your pancreas that your immune system hasn’t gotten around to destroying yet. Because your body can still make a little bit of insulin, it helps keep your blood glucose (or ‘blood sugar’ as we call it here) on a more even keel. In Sarah’s case, we could always count on her body leveling her out at night. If she went to bed with a high blood sugar, in the morning she would be back to normal, and she never ever woke up with low blood sugar. So not only was she still producing a big of insulin, her body was still managing her glucagon well. Glucagon is a hormone made by the Alpha cells in your pancreas, and it’s function in the opposite of insulin, as it’s job is to bring up the glucose levels in your blood so that they never get too low. Some of you might have experienced some mild hypoglycemia… where you feel all week and shaky when you’ve gotten really really hungry, well that’s when glucagon is supposed to go into action and tell your liver to release more sugar into your bloodstream. When you have diabetes, even though the body doesn’t destroy your Alpha cells on its crazy auto-immune rampage, once your Beta cells aren’t functioning, your body doesn’t seem to be able to manage glucagon either. So then hypoglycemia becomes a huge problem for diabetics because your body doesn’t stop it. If you have too much insulin in your blood and not enough sugar then you can go low, and if it gets too low, you can slip into a coma or even have a seizure. Not good.
So like I said, up until December we were just going along, managing Sarah and keeping her fairly steady, when all of a sudden at the beginning of the month it seemed very clear that Sarah was leaving the honeymoon period, and fast. Her blood sugar levels were all over the place, and often really high and weren’t coming down at night like before. This was frustrating because we thought at first that Sarah was just sneaking food and when she has high blood sugar she is MISERABLE! And when you have four kids, when one is miserable
they all are miserable it affects everyone.
When we went to the diabetes clinic at the beginning of December they saw her numbers and upped all her insulin as well as adding in some night-time insulin to help bring her down at night. So this meant she had to start a fourth needle in the day (poor kid), but it still wasn’t helping. So with the help on the nurse, we upped her insulin again, and then a week or so later had to up a third time, until finally we started seeing some better numbers again. But then Sarah started getting lows, where she would have too much insulin in her blood and her blood sugar would go down to low… and since these lows were new for us, they were a bit disconcerting and rather scary. Thankfully she is pretty good about telling us when she is feeling low, but on Boxing Day, when we went to my parents place, Sarah wouldn’t get out of the car. We thought she was just playing shy or being a pickle, so we just left her there. But after a few minute I went out to try to get her to come in and she wouldn’t. We thought about just leaving her and were getting kind of frustrated that she was acting so weird when Jason thought he better check her blood and that’s when we found out she was low… really really low…. ACK!!! Both the highs and lows can really affect Sarah’s behaviour and as a parent it’s going to be tough trying to separate her behaviour from the blood sugar side effects, especially as she gets older.
So things aren’t easy, but we still have Sarah with us and that’s enough. And like we said before, Jason and I just are so grateful to God that for most of the year Sarah’s diabetes wasn’t an issue, that we could worry about Ava without having to worry about Sarah at the same time. I know that we often like to say that God doesn’t give us more than we can handle, but I don’t really agree with that. To quote a pastor whose blog I follow – The Blazing Center – Steven Altrogge said, “God burdens us beyond our strength so that we will be forced to utterly and completely depend on him.” a statement which I completely agree with.
People have so many times told us how strong we are, and I have to say over and over again… nope, it’s not us. We’re not strong, we’re weak. But we know the one who is strong and who is holding us in His hands, and we know that we can depend on Him utterly, even in death, even in diabetes.
22 Cast your burden on the Lord,
and he will sustain you;
he will never permit
the righteous to be moved.