High and Low
A mom to four kids raises two with diabetes
It’s 2 a.m. and here I am again. Hovering over my baby boy’s crib and trying to wipe his finger with an alcohol swab without waking him. I’m amazed by the fact that he can sleep through the entire glucose test now—the swipe of alcohol, the lancet’s prick, the squeeze of his finger, and the dabbing away of blood. I’m getting better at it now, too. And it’s only been 10 months.
It’s hard to believe that not long ago I was blissfully unaware of what was going on inside Jack’s 2-year-old body. His immune system had mistakenly decided to wage an all-out war on the insulin-producing cells in his pancreas. When I called the pediatrician for a blood test, I had no idea I’d be spending the remainder of the week at Phoenix Children’s Hospital, eyes glazed over as I got a crash course in pediatric endocrinology.
Shortly after Jack was released from the hospital, we found ourselves heading up the California coast. Things weren’t normal, but we were gently feeling our way toward our new normal. Things were generally feeling so peaceful that it took us a few days of traveling to realize how often our 4-year-old, Dallin, had been asking to use the bathroom. It was my husband who finally said it out loud: “I think we should use Jack’s glucose meter and check Dallin’s blood, just in case.”
If Jack’s diagnosis had been a shock, then Dallin’s diagnosis, less than two weeks later, was nothing short of a punch in the gut.
Caring for children with diabetes is no walk in the park. There have been moments of unbearable anxiety for their futures. Moments where I worry about their kidneys and feet and eyes and everything else. There have been phrases like “comorbidities” and “end-stage” that have nearly sent me over the edge. I’ve had moments where I’ve realized that playdates and trips to Grandma’s house will never be the same. And I have cried about all of it.
But I’ve also had moments of joy where I have gazed at my little boys and realized this could have been worse. Moments where my heart has swelled with gratitude for the outpouring of love, support, and encouragement we have received from friends and family. And I’ve cried about that, too.
And now, as I sit here in this half-lit room, gazing at Jack’s yummy round cheeks and his pouty lips wrapped around his thumb, I’m reminded that in this year of highs and lows, the highs have been resoundingly triumphant. They’ve knocked the lows straight out of the ring. There has never been a moment of despair that has not been immediately answered with a sense of calm. Not even once. There has been a consistent sense of peace that has gracefully laced its way through every doubt, subtly weaving the same phrase over and over again, “Kim, you can do this.”
So I finish this glucose test, and I pack up the testing kit. Cotton swabs, testing strips, lancets, and meter. I take a deep breath, close the door, and walk down the hall. And then I do it all over again.
Kimberly Tait resides in Gilbert, Arizona, with her husband, David, and their four children: Ava, Ella, Dallin, and Jack. She spends her free time raising community awareness about type 1 diabetes and chronicles her life raising two children with diabetes on her blog, PeacemakersProject.com.
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