Tuesday, March 27, 2007

His Royal Highness

I don't have type 1 diabetes like many of you do. I don't know what it feels like to be up high or down low. I cannot feel the sting of insulin or the discomfort of going from 50 to 400 in a matter of minutes. But I value your vivid and heart-wrenching descriptions of "how it feels" more than you know. Charlie is only 5. He can't describe it like you do. The pain I feel is different. It hurts in different places.

Friday night was a horrible night of high blood sugars for Charlie. We couldn't bring him down all night. When you expect to see 150 or 180, numbers like 344 just reach in and twist your innards. 5 – 4 – 3 – 2 – 1 …. FUCK!

So we put our faith in the correction. We correct and pray that the pump does its thing - that everything does what it's supposed to do. We pray that in an hour, he'll start to come down. Waiting, though, is excruciating. The waiting tears apart your stomach. It makes me want to crawl inside his blood stream like an insane, militant, sweat suit wearin', vein-poppin', whistle-blowin', beer-gutted, spit-flyin' high school football coach. Or better yet, ex-Pittsburgh Steelers coach Bill Cowher.



Insulin: insulin


Insulin: insulin


Insulin: insulin


An hour later, I test him. 5 – 4 – 3 – 2 – 1 ….. FUCK!


We recently moved our bedroom to the third-floor attic due to the accumulation of all these kids. I talk to Susanne via the baby monitor. Surely she heard my "FUCK" through the monitor and knows it's not good. "He's 347," I say almost robot-like towards the white plastic receiver. "I'll test for ketones."

The big red plastic Dixie cup reminds me of warm, watery beer and drinking games; standing in a long keg line at fraternity and sorority parties so many years ago.

Now I'm pressing his itty bitty junk down like it's a faucet on full blast, using the red cup to collect a hot, rapid stream of pee from a 5 year old at 2 in the morning. My hand warms. I hold my breath as it slows to a final drip just before reaching the brim. He has slight ketones. The site looks fine and it was fine earlier in the day. Of course we consider changing the site, but Charlie's blood sugar skyrockets for hours after site changes. We don't want to compound the problem, so we give the site and his pump one last chance to redeem itself.

One hour later.

Susanne takes the next blood sugar check as I listen to the baby monitor from the attic. The creaking of Susanne's footsteps breaks the white noise hum coming from the monitor.

"Snap!" goes the pricker.


"Sigh" goes Susanne.


"Beeeeeeep" goes the ear thermometer.

No fever.

We decide it's time to inject with needle.

"No!" goes Charlie.

"Please hold still" goes Susanne.

I hear Susanne making her way back upstairs. I hear too much. Every little moan from Charlie. Thrashing around in his sheets. Discomfort.

I feel it in my heart. Like a slow nail through my heart.

Even the needle injection doesn't bring him down enough. Finally, one last correction brings him to 98 by the morning.

A new day brings an opposite battle. Low blood sugars all day and into the evening.

Oh, Diabetes. You are one sick bastard!

Thursday, March 22, 2007

The Muppets Take Manhattan

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

A New Glu

Step aside glucose and glucometer and glucagon. There's a new glu in town and its name is gluten.

We just learned that Susanne has Celiac disease. She'll be a glutton for gluten no more. We have spent the last few days scouring the Internet and buying books to see what she can eat and what she cannot.

Her body cannot metabolize gluten, resulting in malnutrition and a constant feeling of shittiness. To control this disease, she must eliminate all foods from her diet that contain gluten... FOREVER! Gluten is in almost everything. No bread. No beer. No fried foods. No pasta.

Susanne calls me at work.

"I'm never going to have pizza again. Never."

Sigh. "I know."

She calls again (2 minutes later).

"No hotdogs, no hamburgers, no sandwiches, no normal cereal."

Sure, there's gluten-free foods and Susanne has already been to Whole Foods. It seems the gluten-free foods are also yummy-free. It tastes like dirty rubber bands. The gluten-free foods are also very high in fat content and hard-earned dollars.

Looking at the bright side, algae, hemp, cowpea, mung bean and vodka is on the safe list for the gluten-free diet.

Susanne calls again with a much more serious tone.

"No more Christmas cookies. No more linzer tarts. No more double chocolate clusters."

Oh, gluten. This just got personal. If Susanne stops baking her cookies ... I will, I, I ... sorry. I just don't even want to imagine a world without Susanne's cookies.

What a pain in the gluteus!

If anyone out there is gluten-challenged or knows someone who is, I'd appreciate any decent recipes or tips on restaurants with gluten-free menus. I know of P.F. Chang's, Chili's and Outback Steakhouse. Thank you.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007


I'm a little late to the party on this tag from Kerri. Here it goes.

Seven Things To Do Before I Die:

1. Remember to unplug the iron.
2. Travel around the world with Susanne. Though not in a hot-air balloon.
3. See my children grown; meet my children's children.
4. Learn to snowboard; Go on snowboarding vacation with kids.
5. Write a great song. Write a great children's book.
6. Go white-water rafting along New Zealand's Kaituna River.
7. Save the cheerleader. Save the world.

Seven Things I Cannot Do:

1. Tie my shoes like an adult.
2. Snap my fingers like an adult.
3. Go one month without running out of gas.
4. Avoid sarcasm.
5. Make everyone happy. Though I try.
6. Count without using my fingers.
7. Speak publicly without nausea and loss of all motor skills.

Seven Things That Attract Me to… The Mr.

1. His red dragon tattoo.
2. His gentleness.
3. The smell of motorcycle exhaust and Tabasco sauce on his breath.
4. How he lifts me up in his big strong arms over puddles in the rain.
5. His ability to bounce his pectoral muscles up and down to Def Leppard's "Rock of Ages."
6. His bowling trophies.
7. Shoot! Was I supposed to change this question to "The Mrs.?" Yikes. How embarrassing.

Seven Things I Say:

1. “Oh for the love of God!”
2. “You get nothing. You lose. Good day, sir!” (Thanks Willy)
3. "You bet your sweet ass." (I'm lying. I don't say this. But dammit, I wish I did. Is there anything better than that? Am I gonna start using that line more often? Oh you bet your sweet ass.)
4. “Hey, it's me. I ran out of gas. I need you to come and get me.”
5. “Yes, I ran out of gas AGAIN.”
6. "No, not that mother-scratcher." (Thanks Coen brothers)
7. “I fucking hate diabetes!”

Seven Books That I Love:

1. Chronicle of a Death Foretold (Gabriel Garcia Marquez)
2. Death in the Andes (Mario Vargas Llosa)
3. Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim (David Sedaris)
4. Atticus (Ron Hansen)
5. The Things They Carried (Tim O'Brien)
6. Maus (Art Spiegelman)
7. The Beet Queen (Louise Erdrich)

Seven Movies That I’ve Loved (at different times and in no particular order):

1. Schindler's List
2. The Corpse Bride
3. This is Spinal Tap
4. Iron Giant
5. Shawshank Redemption
6. Amadeus
7. Rushmore

Thursday, March 01, 2007

D-Tour: Kiss Me I'm Cesarean

This is something I wrote several years ago, but was published by a local parenting magazine about a year ago. I recently received a couple unexpected and amusing emails related to this piece.

Kiss Me I'm Cesarean

When Susanne was 37 weeks, the doctors informed us that our baby was in the breech position. It was butt down rather than head down. We learned quickly that breech was a hideous word; a word not to wave around vociferously.

People constantly asked how Susanne was feeling. “Terrific. Outstanding. In pregnant splendor,” I would boast publicly. Then I would lower my voice to an unintelligible mutter as if consummating a drug deal. “Well, actually we found out that the baby is, well... you see the baby is (whisper) breech. The next dirty word that follows breech is Cesarean, which of course is sequential if the baby refuses to turn to the proper position or “zero station” as they call it. Zero Station it turns out is not the name of an 80s new wave band that toured with Flock of Seagulls - just the fetus settling into its captain's chair for the big ride down the canal.

As a Cesarean candidate we felt as if we were our own subspecies – a fledgling race inferior to humans. Looking for support, we sought out other Cesareans, often collecting under moist, mossy stones or inside damp driftwood. At one of our last doctor appointments, the receptionist gazed mournfully at us as we signed in.

“You the Cesarean?”

“No!” I barked.

“We're the Hungarians.”

We all enjoyed a faux chuckle and then went down to the corner deli for some tuna sandwiches on Cesarean bread.

Once it was confirmed that the baby was indeed breech, we tried every measure possible to get our stubborn baby to engage in some gymnastics. I tried shining a flashlight on the lower section of Susanne’s belly. “Come to the light,” I begged. Nothing. Then the doctors attempted a very painful procedure called an external version in which the doctor dug her hands into Susanne's tender, swollen stomach, trying to turn the baby manually. It was very much like kneading pizza dough, only more painful and less flour. Needless to say, baby didn’t budge. Then we strung up my wife to a Catherine wheel and tinkered with some other medieval torture devices before driving some bamboo shoots under her fingernails just for the sake of it. When all else failed, I got down there and shouted “Dammit, you turn around this instant or march right up to your room!” In hindsight, I guess it didn’t make much sense, but I was frustrated and I figured it was good practice.

One day I was feeling a bit less optimistic about the baby turning and I fell into a lethargic depression, as I crashed spiritless on the couch. “Why won’t the baby turn? Why? Why? Why?” I demanded. Then I looked at myself, half of my body sucked under the cushions, just lying there like a fat, dead horse. Susanne tried all sorts of techniques to get me off of the couch and into the car, but I wouldn’t budge. That’s great, I thought. The baby has inherited my slothfulness. Super.

Undeterred, we have dedicated our lives to the fight against bigotry and injustices that Cesareans endure each and every day. We dream of a day when Cesareans and vaginal birth parents can live together in harmony. A day when the snickering and cruelty ends. A day when a Cesarean woman can perhaps vote or even get a job. We are a small yet determined race and we have made great strides in our communities. Just last week we launched our first dating service/support group called SCAR (Single Cesarean Astronauts for Romance). Sure, it's a miniscule demographic percentage-wise, but it's a start. Coming soon in January will be the Latin-Cesarean music awards on Fox Television hosted by dancer Ida Carlini, former lover of late mambo legend Tito Puente. Ida once had her nails done by a Cesarean.

As for us? We're making our way to Washington, D.C. this weekend for the Million Cesarean March. If you're in the area, come on by to say hello. We'll be the couple in the matching yellow T-shirts that say "KISS ME I'M CESAREAN."

* And now for the emails, verbatim.

"Hi, My name is Ida Carlini and I don't remember ever hosting a Fox tv program..Where did you get that info? Please contact me to clear this up....Ida Carlini"

And a couple days later ...


Oh, Ida. Sweet Ida. There's no Latin-Cesarean music awards on Fox TV. I'm so sorry.