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Let’s take it from yesterday afternoon.

1) Meeting at the Council re Laureate developments, yay! Exciting stuff. Shot out of there like a bat out of hell to go to

2) M’s concert, in which she played in a junior orchestra, and a solo violin piece. And sang. Waved goodbye to E & R who went to

3) E’s concert, where he played bassoon. And sang. M and I skipped this bit, so we could head home, eat and prepare 

4)  the poem she was reading today in a poetry reading competition. Though she wasn’t competing, just reading. I was one of the judges, and…wouldn’t be fair! She bathed, got to bed and

5) E & R arrive home. E sky high sugars from a snack before the concert, not wanting to go low and have a hypo. He eats more and takes his short-acting insulin. He’s shattered, so we tuck him in

6) only to wake at 12.30 am to E having his first nighttime hypo. Dreadful for him, worst one yet. Treated and settled once again, with promise to wake him and test his blood 

7) at 2.30 am. Which we do. All fine. This morning both children and us look and feel like wet dishcloths. Off M goes to school, where I meet her

8) for the poetry reading competition. A fine time had by all, and worthy winners. Photos taken. Half an hour in Starbucks for me then, where I manage to grab some writing time. Then

9) off to ballet. Afterward 

10) we head to coffee. Friends I’ve known for years, godsends. An entertaining and relaxing hour. Too soon

11) head home. Within 5 minutes E back from school. Within 10 minutes

12) he realises he’s low again, another hypo. After treatment we are able figure he overestimated lunch, too much insulin.

13) He says he thinks the lows are worth it for the better sugar levels, even if they mean he grinds to a halt for 20 minutes at time. I tell him his father and I will be looking at the whole picture tonight, to try to reduce them. He shrugs, his newly 13 yr old mind set. He wants good numbers. I admire him more than I can say.


It’s a bit like that at the moment. The pace of life, believe it or not, has actually slowed slightly. We deliberately keep some things at bay, to make grudging room for the uninvited guest called Diabetes. However. It’s important to keep doing the things that are vital, that feel nourishing, in all ways. To do so you have to make it look easy. Because otherwise it’s all a battle and self-pitying and patently defeating the purpose But I confess to feeling at times like I’m not waving but drowning.

Not that I had any real doubt, but you know….

It’s possible, just possible, that somehow all the doctors got it wrong. Etc. I’m thinking this occasionally. I’m also thinking gee my sugar’s probably all over the place. I’m really thirsty. Have been for years. 

This is all alongside one of my very first reactions: give it to me. Make me have it, Lord. I’m ready. I can take it. I’ve had 44 good (mostly!) years. I’m happy. Give it to me. Don’t make him carry it.

Well, so. Yesterday morning E says hey wanna test your blood sugar? Sure, says M. Sure, say I.

He does all the mechanics, and a drop of bright blood expertly squeezes onto the monitor from M’s slim, long finger (I’m thinking, ack imagine having a two year old with this! Imagine. So many do. Their little fingers…)

M’s reading: 4.7 mmol

Me next. It hurts. E apologises.

My reading: 4.1 mmol


Let me put this into context, just in case. 

1) We’d be jumping for joy if E’s blood glucose level ever approached this regularly. Truth is, he’s been there half a dozen times over the entire last 8 weeks: and all of those times, he has felt ‘hypo’ — shaky, unwell.

 2) M and I had eaten less than an hour before the test. Which means our bodies were in full digestion mode. If E had tested then, his sugars would have been at least depressing and probably a little scary, probably 4 times (at least) our level. 4 times!

3) All of our calculations go into trying to get E into the ‘target range’ of 4-7 mmol upon waking (fasting level), and 10 mmol before a meal in the daytime. Our own levels, so low, so even, so perfect, are just the results of having this amazing, amazing ability to distribute insulin in just the right measure, at just the right time. Incredible.


What I learned.

1) M does not have diabetes.

2) I do not have diabetes.

3) E does and always will have diabetes.

4) He has to carry it.

5) I can’t.



From January 2010, my new blog is Waving and Drowning


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Who am I?

A writer born in Texas, who grew up in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia (yes, like the song), and who's been living in the UK since 1988. I've published two books (see below), and teach creative writing at the University of Kent. I'm married to a composer, and we have two young children. See About for my full profile.