Monday, October 25, 2010

Pix of our Walk

My good friend, S, took some great pictures of the JDRF Walk to Cure Diabetes, and posted them on her blog, here. Go take a look!

Thank you, S, for being our Team photographer, and for being such a good friend! Muah!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Our Walk

Yesterday was our first JDRF Walk to Cure Diabetes. Yes, I cried. Only once. Okay, I also teared up another time. My friends were a little worried about me because they're not used to seeing me get emotional, but hubby knows I am capable of opening up the water works - even if it's a just a little drip - every once in a while. As a D-Parent, it can be a little overwhelming to be surrounded by thousands of people who, in one way or another, live with Juvenile Diabetes every day.

But, to be completely honest, what got me choked up was seeing all of the apples and bananas and crackers - boxes and boxes and boxes of them - sitting out for anyone to grab. Yeah, lots of folks grab 'em because they appreciate a free snack, or their littler ones are a bit peckish and need a snack. But, these, really, are "low stations"...quick carbs set out for any diabetic who may be getting low and needing some emergency carbs (not that any parent of a diabetic child would ever leave the house without an emergency snack). But, in this particular gathering, carbs are love, and there was plenty of love to go around. Oh, and there were free sugar-free treats as well :)

The Grand Stand....
"THANK YOU" to all of the sponsors and volunteers who made this happen!

So, after checking in and picking up our bushel of t-shirts, we wandered around a bit. They had a zumba instructor lead our warm-up.

"Let's all Zumba!"

T-Bear, Miss Christin, and Sydney Zumba-ing.

Big J: "Nope. Ain't zumba-ing."

One of the greatest things about this event was seeing all of the team t-shirts. Some teams were little, like ours (we didn't have t-shirts this year). Some teams were huge, and all coordinated and everything. Most team shirts were pretty straight forward, but some were really clever.

One of my favorite t-shirts.

I wasn't able to get a good shot of my other favorite; the "periodic table of diabetic elements" on the front...and "The only Matter that Matters is a Cure" on the back. Also, the "Pirates of the Cure-abean" was kind of clever. Though, I'm thinking "Pirates of the Cure-a-'Betes" might be our team motto for next year...
So, once we noticed a huge hoard of folks all walking down the road, Team Thunder Bear joined in and pulled up the rear.

Papa Bear pulling Sydney in the wagon, BooBoo on his cycle, Nic hoofing it, and BroBear on his scooter.

The Walkin' Crowd.
Gets me all weepy.

T-Bear scootering.

Papa Bear scootering.

Our official Team photographer, S.
One of the other things that got to me was S's comment, something to the effect that, with thousands of people showing up to this event, "You can't tell which ones have diabetes, and which ones don't. They all look so happy and healthy." In some ways this is a really great thing. Our kids with Juvenile Diabetes are, for the most part, happy and healthy, which every D-Parent is incredibly grateful for. And, at the same time, this appearance of health makes it difficult for others to understand how much time, effort, and heartbreak goes into keeping each one of these kids "happy and healthy" on an hour-by-hour basis. It's exhausting. At times it's all-consuming. And, we do it every single day, day after day, hour after hour, while doing our best to maintain a semi-normal family and personal life. But, all of us are doing it every day. Every single day. And knowing that there are so many of us trudging along in the same direction...well, that makes a world of difference to this particular exhausted D-Mom.
But, back to the Walk. All of the kids did really great. T-Bear started getting overheated in the second half, which always makes him spike. We pulled off on the side, sat down in the shade, and took a number. He was high - in the 250's - so I gave him some water and we rested for a bit. Giving him insulin at this point, on the tail of physical exhertion and without a high-carb, fat-and-protien-balanced meal would be dangerous, so we had to wait it out and hope to flush out the excess glucose with lots of water. Being at the very tail-end of the Walk Dragon, we had a couple of police officers following us close behind. Since we were clearly having some difficulty, the officer in the car asked if we needed a ride.
Heck yeah! So, T-Bear, Christin, Sydney and I piled into the back seat. Wow. That's really not a pleasant place to have to ride. It's tighter than flying economy class, and the seats are hard formed plastic. So glad we weren't handcuffed.

View from the back seat of the squad car.
Yes, T-Bear was asking all about the video screen.

Once we caught up with Jeff and the wagon, we all piled out of the police car (having someone else opening the door from the outside), and were able to finish the walk.

Portions of Team Thunder Bear at the finish.
Okay, not technically at the official finish, but only a few yards from it.
While some of us rested in the shade and rehydrated, the kids wanted to visit the bouncies again.

T-Bear on the bungie bouncie thingie.

BroBear on the bungie bouncy thingie.

I really don't know how to wrap up this particular post, except to say that we definitely want to do it again next year, we definitely want a bigger team next year, and Papa Bear will be in charge of our sure-to-be-brilliant team t-shirts next year. We may not be the most glamorous, well-put-together D-Team among the hundreds (thousands?) of Walking D-Teams across the country, but, hay, we all showed up and participated. And that means EVERYTHING to this very tired D-Mom.
So, I have to send out one more HUGE "Thank You" to everyone who supported us in this year's walk. And, I'll try to be a much better fund-raiser and Team Captain next year...I promise!
Many, many blessings to all of you,

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Two Weeks

The JDRF Walk to Cure Diabetes is in two weeks. Our first walk since T-Bear was diagnosed. I’ve already written about why we’re walking. And I’ve written our diagnosis story, and about what it's like to live one day Diabetes. Now I’ll let someone else talk about why we’re walking. Why we’re ALL walking. The thousands of people all over the country who have signed up and raised funds and showed up to Walk together. Take a minute to read “Working with Superheros” by Jilsinger8 (thanks Hallie for posting this!). And, if you haven’t already, please consider sponsoring a member of Team ThunderBear in our upcoming Walk (see panel to the right).

Working for Superheroes

I’m starting to feel that I chose my career because of I’m in awe of superheroes.

So, tell me, Reader…when did you last talk to a superhero? I mean, the real deal? And I mean superhero. Those with powers beyond human. Well, I work with superheroes every day.

As an employee of the Juvenile
Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), I have the unique opportunity to work for people who spend every minute working to save lives. And they have powers.

As an outreach manager, it’s my job to support these heroes in their super endeavors. So, I come to work, I learn something, I share what I’ve learned, I speak to groups, I speak to individuals, I host meetings, I go to meetings, I plan events, I execute events, I create materials, I get on the phone, I write countless emails, I go home and read, read, read. I read on managing type 1 diabetes, on clinical studies, on historical research data, on this and on that. What I read tends to repeat itself in different publications, but I still won’t remember everything I read. I read and try to keep everything locked and loaded for the next phone call or email from a superhero, but I can’t. And other things are starting to fall out of my head. I forgot my phone number the other day. See, I’m just human.

A parent of a child with type 1 diabetes is a superhero, and I have accumulated some hard evidence to prove this. First of all, they save lives. And not like a doctor or soldier saves lives. Every day they wake up and must save their child’s life. They must keep their child breathing every day. I can’t imagine how exhausting this is. And they don’t get vacations. They don’t even get sleep!! Diabetes (the villain) never sleeps! So parents can’t either. They don’t even get to rest at night. They gotta keep working.

And like superheroes, they get plot twists. Except, some fictional superheroes have the luxury of having a stupid arch-enemy, one who spills the plot and their whole evil scheme because they think they’ve won. Diabetes is a smart enemy. Parents are always guessing what diabetes will do next. And the formulas they have learned to battle diabetes with might not give them success all the time! Diabetes can hit them with its weapons of high and low
blood sugars at any time no matter what they do! But they keep on working, adjusting their tactics. No matter what.

And these formulas! That is why they have superpowers. I have read all about carb ratios, and insulin sensitivity, and bolus doses and basal rates. I have read about all the factors that can attribute to high and low blood sugars. I read about effects and phenomenons. But to remember ALL the ratios, ALL the factors, ALL the rates, ALL the carb counts…AND…ALL AT ONCE?!?!? ALL THE TIME?!?!? Ya gotta have superpowers. I’m not just saying it because math and I don’t get along, I’m saying it because you seriously, have got to have superhuman capabilities.

So how can I work for superheroes who have superpowers? If I can provide them any weapons to use against the enemy, I’ll do it. The greatest weapon available is knowledge and each other, and both go hand in hand. Every family diagnosed needs a medical team to give them tools, to guide their moves and to teach them how to develop their powers. Then, superheroes need other superheroes to share trade secrets and to motivate each other. If I can bring superheroes together, or I can give them information they didn’t have before, I have done my job. But, parents shouldn’t have to have this burden of having to fight every day forever, and as a child is diagnosed in our JDRF Chapter every day, another parent must take that burden on. So, I will work to vanquish the enemy for good and throw weapons to our superheroes in the meantime.

Also, as cool as being a superhero may seem, they got their powers for awful reasons. An enemy attacked, and they had to either work at developing their own powers or lose what is most precious. So, these parents have had to learn things they would never wish for other parents. Like how to hold your young, newly diagnosed child tightly and in just the right way so they can’t squirm out of your embrace while you steady the needle and try to block out the pleas of “Don’t do it, please don’t do it, it hurts, it hurts.” Or looking at your teenager with weariness of heart in their eyes whisper under their breath, “You don’t get it ” all the while you pray they never, ever have experience your kind of fatigue. Your fear.

Just like Superman gets his strength back from the sun, so do parents get their strength from good days, from the successes. When their kid gets to play with their friends and enjoy a sport. When they ace that test! When they see their seven-year old show another kid how they test their blood sugar. “See, and then I put a drop of blood on here, and it tells me how much sugar I have! Cool, huh?” When they give themselves a shot or change a site by themselves. No tears. When parents witness how mature their child has become, how strong, they often tell me, “I don’t know how they do it! I know I couldn’t do it.” But I’ve figured it out, yes, me, the layman. These kids, wise beyond their years, are strong because like all kids, we emulate our parents. Parents DO do it. They live with diabetes every day and the strength they have as superheroes is copied by their kids. So superhero parents – they get it from YOU.

So, yep, I get to work for superheroes. It’s a pretty awesome job. Just yesterday I was on the phone with a superhero mom telling me how awesome her daughter is, and how strong she has become. I know I’ll never get it, I mean really get it. Unless sometime in the future a doctor comes out to the waiting room and tells me my child has type 1 diabetes, or tells me that I now have type 1 diabetes, I won’t truly understand this brand of superheroism. But, I’ll go home tonight, I’ll pick up one of two books I have on type 1 diabetes, one published in 1994 and one this last year and read up. Maybe I can find something of interest to superheroes.