Throw Me a Life Raft

A week that began like any other – week 5 promised tests and quizzes in multiple subjects with my signature required in multiple places – and a grumpy 9-year-old boy who continued to insist “I already know it!” as he stomped away from my unanswered question about a story he’s being tested on.  My son is a whiz in math but, well, reading comprehension just aint his thang.  Unless he’s reading the latest insider’s guide to beating Bowser in SuperMario Bros.-whatever, most of what he reads goes through the eyeballs and gets lost somewhere in that mysterious space between his ears.  Sure he loves to ask me to help him study, but the minute he can’t answer one question he becomes a bigger drama queen than his sister.

Meanwhile back in cyber school Ava and I conducted a seed-to-plant science experiment whereby all results pointed to plant 1 winning the growth race,  but plant 2 grew four inches tall while we stared at the soil in plant 1.  So – Ava wanted to know -why didn’t our plant 1 grow like Dr. Algae’s (cyber science teacher) plant 1?  Well, honey, because not only can Mommy not draw or cut a straight line but she can’t grow a damn bean seed out of 2 inches of dirt.  Seriously, though, mommy didn’t know.  Defective seed?  Perhaps we pushed it down too far?

Last week she was in rare form, demanding that I give her a cookie before she ate her dinner “or else I’ll—” (insert any from a long list of threats she’s catalogued in her head), testing the short limits of my patience and insisting that Owen play with her under threat of bodily injury.  And she meant it.  I can see that this type of behavior may one day be a turn off to potential suitors.

Really, though, school itself wasn’t so bad – it was the before and after that hovered dangerously close to straight-jacket lunacy.  Two days in a row I had to change her (insulin pump) infusion site (two consecutive high numbers require it) in the middle of our day – Ava positively hates this and puts up one hell of a fight.  One would think after two years of insulin pumping she’d know the deal; however, in what now seems like a colossal mistake, she is accustomed to being asleep during routine changes.  She is not at all pleased with the unexpected ones – which would be the understatement of the week.

Our infusion set is a stainless steel needle attached to a circular adhesive pad from which the tube to the pump is connected and disconnected.  This subcutaneous needle is short and thin and takes just seconds to push in – much like a push pin.  However, on a moving target it can take an eternity during which there is a great hullabaloo of kicking, screaming, tears and pleading.  She’s as strong as an ox, my little 40lb brick house, and it is now next to impossible to hold her still.

So, on the second day of changing the site mid-day – she amped it up and went berserk, alternately screaming “I hate it! I hate it!” and “I’m sorry! I’m sorry!” – tears streaming down her cheeks and I’m the one left feeling like the tyrant who must put her through her perceived hell.  All with the windows open, for the whole neighborhood -were they listening – to bear witness to what must’ve sounded like a murder in progress.  Forty minutes later it was in,  and we were both sweaty and crying.  For the record, I have tried this infusion set on myself – me, a former needle-phobe – and it was nothing but a tiny, slightly burning pinch.  Really, I’m the strong one in the house – but that particular day was going to be my day for a complete mental breakdown.

I guess you could say I’m the lucky one, being home with her 24/7 since June 18, 2007, I never had the luxury of depression or frustration over the injustice or senselessness of it all.  I relieved all the tears I’d allotted myself every night in the hospital with her, after she’d fallen asleep.  Ever since, I’ve subscribed to the “one-day-at-a-time” philosophy to get me through.  My job right now is to raise her right, feed her healthy foods and be her pancreas until there’s a cure, and get her through kindergarten in one piece.  No time for drama, no time for me to be angry or long for life the way it used to be, before diabetes.  My job is to teach her to live the best life with a positive attitude in spite of diabetes and, when she’s ready, how to take care of herself to avoid the complications she’s oblivious to at her tender age of 5.

And so ends week 5, where we learned about the life cycle of a frog and made apple prints out of apples and pastel paint. We added two new sight words to our Word Wall and she proudly read me the corresponding sight word books.  We had a play date too -after which she told me she now wanted to go to Owie’s school.  And, ironically, Owie himself came home the very same day and said he wanted to go to PA Cyber again.

On another note, I remember the fourth grade.  I remember liking boys, while they seemed either oblivious or totally grossed out.  My son seems to fall somewhere in the awkward middle of this mentality; while he once had a crush on a little girl in 1st grade, he now gets angry at the mere mention of girls.  I walked with his class for the annual PTO Walk-a-Thon last week and delighted not only in the dramatic size differences between the boys and girls but in the very conversational young lady hanging around my oblivious son.  No clue whatsoever.  (I treaded lightly on this topic later, and he admitted she was “nice.”)  But when buddy William remarked how alike Owen and I looked, he quickly said “uh, not really” and picked up his pace.  At this point it occurred to me this may be the last year I am invited to this event.

Ava enjoyed herself in spite of the human dressed as a 6-foot dog giving all the kids high 5’s (which was probably the main reason her blood sugar soared over 200).  She was so worried this thing was going to touch her she refused to stand with Owen’s class until it was long gone.  On the walk itself she was content to walk ahead of me, hand-in-hand with her brother, basking in the attention of his classmates.

And I – once again – had the surreal revelation that I am really a 40-something mom, not one of them.  Or, a 20-something “former hot chick” trapped in a middle-aged war-torn body. Well, as the song goes, “you don’t know what you’ve got, until it’s gone…”  but that’s another post.

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