Thursday, December 28, 2006

Christmas - Half Good is Pretty Good

On Christmas eve, my daughter Maeve surmised that Santa would still make a stop at our house even though she has, in her opinion, only been "half good."
"Half good is pretty good," she said optimistically.
She was a better girl than she thought.

Charlie commits high treason when putting on a New York Rangers hockey shirt in a New Jersey Devils household. My own son. A turncoat. My own flesh and blood. A Rangers fan. A gift, of course, from his New York born and raised uncle. That son of a bitch. My Devils never stood a chance. Rangers are blue and Charlie believes they are some sort of Power Rangers affiliate.

And Ben? Well, Ben ate soap.

After Christmas Eve dinner, we took a short walk into town and checked out the Nativity scene at a nearby church. Yep, that's a real camel, wondering how the hell he ended up in Southeastern Pennsylvania. Though he doesn't look like he's all that worked up over it.

Daddy was a cookie monster, merrily stuffing my belly with my wife's amazing desserts.

Our family had a wonderful Christmas. Charlie's blood sugar trended low over the weekend (few 50s and 60s), but he was good about telling us before it became a problem.

Happy New Year to you all.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Happy Holidays

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Divine Fortune (A Necessary Fall)

My 13-year-old nephew, Joey, could have died in his sleep in the next 6 months to a year. He could have.

Last week Joey went ice skating with some friends. As many do on the slippery ice, he took a fall. A big fall. A necessary fall. A fall so big that the ambulance came immediately and delivered him to the hospital where he was treated for a broken clavicle and a shoulder injury.

After being released from the hospital, the doctor called my sister-in-law to say that an MRI they took revealed an "unusually large" tumor on the base of his brain. The panic that my sister-in-law felt when discovering that the ambulance outside the rink was for her son then must have turned to an unthinkable horror.

The doctors ordered emergency surgery immediately to remove the tumor.

After six hours of surgery, the weary doctors came out of the ER happy to have removed what appeared to be a benign tumor the size of an adult fist, resting ever so close to the brain stem. Thank God! The doctors warned Joey's parents that he could very likely need therapy for speech and for the use of his hands and legs. However, the day after surgery, Joey was talking OK and despite being in horrible pain, he got out of bed and was able to use his arms and legs. Thank God!

Now, I'm not a religious man, but I think this is the closest I've ever been to a miracle. I'm mostly a believer in good luck and bad luck and you'll rarely catch me praying. But, there I was asking everyone I know for their prayers, in any shape or form, to any God. This time it's hard for me to just chalk it up to being lucky. How often does a need for an MRI occur in a 13 year old boy? Not too often. He had to fall and he had to fall hard. A bruised knee or elbow wouldn't be good enough. He had to fall at a certain angle and with enough velocity to break something. He had to be admitted to a hospital. If he didn't, the tumor would grow so large that it would cut off Joey's oxygen.

Still, so many others don't find the same fate. So many others receive a much more grim prognosis. Kids. Babies. Brain tumors that are inoperable; cancerous and spreading. For this, I can't dismiss my belief in bad luck. I do think fate or a higher power came into play that afternoon at the ice skating rink, but I also think he was lucky to be spared. For this I'll compromise my beliefs and call it divine fortune and pray for Joey's full recovery while we count our blessings this holiday season.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

D-Tour: Something Other Than Diabetes

Every so often, I'd like to take a temporary diversion off the beaten path of diabetes. A slight break from pump talk, highs, lows, doctor visits, etc. It's likely that it will often be music-related. Here is the first installment of D-Tour.

Rodrigo y Gabriela is a young Mexican guitar duo who first met in a heavy metal band. Now, they've gone away from the electric guitars and focused more on their flamenco roots. They're also huge in Ireland of all places. Go figure. In this live performance, they cover Led Zeppelin's Stairway to Heaven. This song has been covered like a zillion times through the years, but trust me, this is not your 16-year-old brother clumsily eking out the first five bars of Stairway to Heaven on the banged up guitar your mom bought at a garage sale. It's on another level. Gabriela uses every bit of the guitar with rapid rhythms and percussion beats. Rodrigo's guitar work is scary good. This song is on their latest self-titled release. OK, enough buildup. Enjoy.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Let 'em Laugh, Garden State

You know, New Jersey takes its fair share of hits. Hollywood has always enjoyed a cheap giggle at New Jersey's expense.

Chin up, New Jersey. Let all of those out-of-state travelers think you're just another exit on the New Jersey Turnpike. Let 'em think there's an irony in your "Garden State" moniker. Let 'em point in disgust at your smoke-billowing refineries and swampy Meadowlands. Just keep moving. Beautiful and quaint historic towns dotted along the Delaware river will be our little secret. Miles and miles of beaches and boardwalks. Atlantic City. Gorgeous farmlands. Some of the most brilliant minds in the world studying at Princeton University. Let 'em laugh.

OK, sure, some of the state is a little smelly. Yes, there is still a big hair epidemic in several northern counties. And sure, a couple of our cities are deemed the most dangerous to live in the nation. BUT ... my native state has once again made me proud in its commitment to stem cell research. Sniffle, sniffle. Thank you, New Jersey. You're my hero. See attached story.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Do I Cry For This?

when the phlebotomist called Charlie's name, he resisted by planting his leg firmly. Like a dog when it realizes he's going to the vet. Damn, he's strong. I carried him in and we sat in a different chair than usual. Not sure. Maybe a bit higher than the other. Less constricting maybe? Whatever it was, I think it confused Charlie.

"Do I cry for this?" he asked me.

I paused, not expecting such a question. "Uh, well, you don't have to," I said. "But it's OK if you do."

I turned Charlie's face away from the nurse's hands and put it against my chest. There was no horrific roar. There was no scream that could stop traffic. Just the slightest wimper when the needle burrowed under his skin.And that was it. A wimper. That was a first.

When we walked out of the office I had a smile from ear to ear, Charlie cracked a subtle "I survived" expression as he held his arm gingerly. Susanne greeted us with an incredulous look as she gestured "what happened?"

The three of us practically skipped across the hospital lobby to the gift shop where Charlie immediately selected a blue (of course) gel-filled, squishy frog that he named Bubbles.

I'm so proud of him. I spent the rest of the day very happy.

The visit with the endo also went fairly well. They're pleased with his growth rate and they like that we've had fewer lows than in the past. He runs a bit on the higher side at times, but we're working on it.

Thank you all for your well wishes and words of encouragement. I very much appreciate it.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Dreading Tomorrow

Dreading tomorrow. Charlie's first appointment since starting on the pump. Not sure if it will be me or Susanne who takes him into the room to have his blood drawn. We've taken turns in the past. Don't even know what's worse really. Either way it's absolutely horrible. Being the one holding him down with all your strength as he pleads, "No, Don't!!" and screams in an unfamiliar voice. A deep big boy voice that builds to a horrific roar.

Or being in the waiting room, powerless, absorbing the looks of sympathy from other moms and dads waiting their turn, as his cry stops time in the busy office for just a moment.

I've got nothing funny. Nothing witty. Just want it to be over with. I want it to be my arm on the table and not his. I want wings so I can scoop him up and fly far away from the hospital just before the needle meets his skin. I want to be driving home, promising him anything he wants. Anything!