The insanity of youth sports may have just saved my life...
I've lost track of how long it's been since I've had a revelation about type 1 diabetes parenting that I felt should be shared. It has bothered me that I haven't written as much over the past year on this blog, professionally and for fun as I expected that I would, but I've rationalized the drop off by telling myself that I didn't have much to say.
Today I have something to say
Last week very early on Thursday morning I drug myself out of bed after only sleeping for a few hours because of a stubborn blood sugar and turned on the shower. It was just before five in the morning and I was about to drive to the airport with my son Cole. Cole is fifteen and his baseball team was about to compete in a week long tournament in Georgia. Cole and Arden have both played in tournaments in the past that have required a night or two in a hotel but this was my first experience spending a full week away from home where my wife and I had to split up to care for our kids.
I went to Georgia, Kelly stayed in New Jersey
Initially the trip caused us some angst. The cost of spending a week in Georgia is oppressive and felt ridiculous when considering that Cole is only 15. There was the specter of Arden's Omnipods and Dexcom CGMs needing to be switched during my absence, not to mention that Kelly had to use precious vacation time so she could stay with Arden. But I digress, let's get back to me in the shower.
I was standing in that shower last Thursday morning completely sapped of physical and mental resilience. Next month Arden will have type 1 diabetes for nine years and I am so far past the day where I ignorantly believed that I was the one human being on the planet that didn't need a good night's sleep, that I now exist day-to-day in a zombie like manner dragging myself to the next handful of hours of sleep. Never-the-less I dutifully washed myself and woke my son, we drove to the airport and made our way to Atlanta where I met up with my son's team, each parent that accompanied had their own ideas about how to pass the time in Georgia - I was no different.
We all attended the games but there was so much downtime. One group of lone dads took the opportunity to relive their youth; some families traveled together and took day trips in between games... I slept because I had just enough focus left to recognize that if I didn't I wasn't going to make it much longer. The first two nights I slept for close to twelve hours respectively, on the third night I crammed in ten hours. On Sunday afternoon, my brain restarted. Some fathers were sitting around talking about the election and I was following what they were saying. The conversation moved back and forth, the topics were deep and flowing and I was keeping up and having thoughts of my own. I had not felt like this in a very long time. I then remembered a few months prior having a (semi) conscience thought that I was unfocused most of the day and that I was having trouble thinking. One night, not too long ago, I recall sitting up with a low blood sugar and feeling like my heart was going to burst. Yet after only three days of sleep here I was able to keep up in a fast-paced and thoughtful conversation.
I took some ribbing over the week for my early to bed late to rise game plan but I was undeterred and I tried to explain my exhaustion to a few of the other dads, they did not come close to being able understand, though I could tell that they thought they did. Yesterday Cole and I flew home after seven days of baseball in the unrelenting Georgia heat. I spent six glorious nights sleeping on a sketchy Marriott mattress that in any other situation, I'd have thrown out a window. Today I am a new person but that's not the end of my story.
While I was sleeping Kelly and Arden were at home living
Arden swapped two Omnipods by herself while I was gone and Kelly applied her first Dexcom sensor! I was super proud of both of them but not surprised in the least at the deftness at which they handled the tasks. It turns out that by removing me from day-to-day life, we removed a few misconceptions that have been solidified by time. You see up until five seconds after Kelly inserted Arden's Dexcom sensor, Arden was sure that only I could do such a thing. Now she knows that Kelly can as well and I'm betting that Arden is now on her way to believing that she can too. The girls also had fantastic control of Arden's BGs during a week were Arden played or practiced softball almost everyday and we all know that in itself, is no small feat.
The only thing left for me to do is to find a balance that keeps me from sliding back into the brain fog that allowed me to fall so far from feeling human without allowing Arden's care to suffer. It's too nice feeling like this again and I can't and won't ever go back. You have no idea how relieving it is to write this today... I thought I had lost my ability to write. I would have been heartbroken by that feeling, you know, if my brain wasn't numb. Instead my life was drifting away like a slow iceberg trudging along without me noticing the direction that it was taking.
If you are a long time diabetes parent please talk to your loved ones and find a way to get yourself significant quantities of rest and please don't stop sleeping until you feel like yourself again. You aren't the only person on the planet that doesn't need sleep and the fog that you are in right now is very likely clouding your reactions, thoughts and ability to live well.
If you are a new diabetes parent, heed this warning. You will not be the exception to the human need for sleep. I thought I was for years and had it not been for this baseball tournament, I may have died prematurely still believing that I was. No matter how badly I want Arden's blood glucose to stay in range, not sleeping to accomplish those numbers can't be the answer. A balance must exist and I'm going to find it.