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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.

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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.

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Underneath it all, JC Superstar is invading our lives. Last night: 45 minutes of semi-accompanied soundtrack playing. And the occasional air guitar.

Everything’s all right, yes everything’s alright.

I just cannot resist. My muse Nancy sent this to me, and I have watched it — er, a lot — in the last 12 hours. I don’t care if it’s planned, choreographed, worked out. That it’s an advert. It’s still community art, and I love it.

Who hasn’t wanted to dance in a big open space like Liverpool Street Station? How perfect would that be?!

Check out this short film on the making of it too: you just have to, for the guy at the end who says something like ‘it was five minutes of love, man’… Just absolutely great.

Happy Monday.

Obama is inaugurated (twice!). I forced the children to sit, not so rapt it must be admitted, in front of the first actual ceremony. M later commented that it was kind of an amazing feeling to know that we had just witnessed history.

Thanks to wonderful Nancy, I am once again struck by just how charismatic our new 44th president is. I mean, can he dance, or what?! There is nothing, absolutely nothing, like a slow, circling dance with someone you either have been or are going to go to bed with. 

I’m sorry, I know we are talking about the President here. But this all just makes him real. Human, fallible. And equally — full of joy, laughter. And everything physical and complex. Someone, moreover, who knows this about himself, and about all of us. No cut-out cardboard. 

Hallelujah.

Well, I said to someone two days ago that I just didn’t know where to start. 

I have to accept that I will never be able to say it all.

So. Somewhere:

1) on November 15, E won the Kent Junior Piano Festival. If anyone is reading this who remembers, this was the big build up to the big concert. He won with Brubeck’s Take Five, Debussy’s Doctor Gradus Ad Parnassum, a Bach something (!), and one of his own compositions for him on piano, and M on violin. He won every category, and the overall prize, becoming the Kent Junior Pianist of the Year 2008. 

2) His composition was called ‘Interruptions and Surprises’. Four days later we all got the interruption and surprise of our lives: he was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.

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There are many, many things to say about this condition — this major organ failure that suddenly exerts control over everything but everything in life.

We are coming back, all of us, to our lives. But it has been like a bomb going off. And I have an image of myself now trying to hold it back, to keep it contained, to soothe it.

But it won’t be soothed. It goes off, and you pick up the pieces.

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So. First things first.

1) he won’t die

2) he’s getting good care

3) he never was very unwell

4) friends and family have been just complete lifesavers. Thank you one and all.

5) I have never been so shaken in all my life. 

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Second things:

1) type 1 means insulin dependent, which means at the moment, injections 4x daily and blood tests 5x daily. He’s managing them all himself, has done from the beginning.

2) for those who know little, as I did, more facts: you cannot set levels of injections, and just do them. You must consistently track sugar levels in the blood through tests, then adjust the insulin according to what you eat, how much you eat, when you eat, how hot or cold you are, how much physical exercise you are doing or plan to do, what level you were before you started, etc. Etc. Etc. It is unbelievably complicated and difficult, and hey, we can do it — hey he can certainly do it — but I HAD NO IDEA. None.

3) good sugar control is the key to avoiding the risks of nasty complications, some of which are life-threatening. End of story.

4) there are many ‘forevers’: he will have it; we will worry about him in relation to it; he will carry it; his sister will worry about getting it; life has changed.

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They are back at school after a complete collapse of a Christmas break. E is thriving, still getting lots of top marks and just this week accepted a 100-page keyboard part for Jesus Christ Superstar. Good grief! He is an example of ‘getting on with it’.

M has suffered late in all this, only feeling able to wobble after the rest of us have steadied somewhat, but her strength is legend. Together we draw up a timetable for homework, violin, ballet, and already she knows that together we can all get back on track.

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Sigh. And us? We have some bad dreams. We’re tired. But we know why we’re here.


I HAVE MOVED

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.