I was talking with a coworker of mine today who is a nurse. She mentioned that when she was 18 her 9 year-old sister was diagnosed with T1D and she talked about helping take care of her. Another coworker asked if that is what made her want to be a nurse. She said that it was part of the reason, the other reason was that her own daughter was diagnosed with Leukemia when she was 7 and that taking care of both her sister and her daughter made her realize that nursing was her calling. And then she said something that struck me as odd. She said that taking care of a chronically ill child changes you, it makes you weird.
Now, I agree with the first part of that statement. It has not even been three full months since Medium was diagnosed, but I am definitely a different person. Most notably, I am exhausted. Actually, I am beyond exhausted. I am exhausted on steroids. I am almost non-functioning exhausted. I keep dragging my butt in to work every morning and saying, out loud, as if anyone really cares, “I don’t know how much longer I can keep up this pace”. I sit at my desk and think about whether I think I can make it through the whole day without going to the parking lot on my lunch break and taking a nap in my car. I pump myself full of caffeine and I trudge through the day. It feels like I am walking through quick-sand, like I am in slow motion. Somehow I am making it work, keeping up with my responsibilities at work and, for the most part, I feel I am pulling my weight. I know that I am capable of doing more, being sharper, going above and beyond. But I don’t even feel bad that I’m not because I am giving all I can right now. I am all tapped out. That which doesn’t kill us makes us stronger–if that is true, I am IRON WOMAN. But I still don’t get what she means by the “it makes you weird” part.
I don’t say these things so I can get sympathy. I am not the only tired woman in the world, not by a long shot. And I am keenly aware of how, even though things are pretty rough right now, they could be so much worse. On my daily prayer list are so many other families that are going through far worse. But the fact remains, that right now, life is hard. And I am trying my best to get through with my sanity and dignity in tact (incidentally,bursting into your bosses office and announcing that you have to leave because you forgot to pick up one of your children does not help this plight).
Besides being beyond exhausted, I have changed in other ways, too. I carry needles and glucose tabs everywhere I go, I can divide by 30 in the blink of an eye, I know the carb count of a plethora of foods, I stab my child with needles frequently, I no longer make jokes about being in a diabetic coma, I buy home hemoglobin A1C tests, I have insulin pens in my butter dish in the fridge, I know what basal and bolus mean, I regularly inspect my son’s feet, I stab my non-diabetic children with needles on occasion, I have Skittles and Kool-Aid in my underwear drawer, there are smears of blood all over my son’s sheets and some other random places around my house……
Huh, I think I know what my coworker meant now.
At least I don’t have a zipper on my tongue.