Monday, July 8, 2013

Monday blues...

What a way to start a Monday!  So, with only 3.2 units of insulin left in my pump, I woke up this morning with the necessity to do an infusion change before breakfast.  Injecting just enough insulin to cover a cup of coffee (the only saving grace), I gather my things and sit down in front of my computer with the intention of watching the finale of Top Chef Master while jabbing myself in the stomach.

But before I get the episode pulled up and before I get a chance to doctor my coffee with the appropriate amount of sugar and cream, I open my email and find a recall notice from Medtronic about faulty insulin pump reservoirs (multiple lot numbers for models MMT-326A and MMT-332A).  Well, what do you think I have?  Yup - only recalled equipment.

Instructing me to "1. switch to your back up insulin injection plan" and "2. call us to expedite a replacement box" I find myself, pre-coffee, attempting to make long distance calls on my computer from rural Vermont to my doc in Virginia to get a "back up insulin injection plan" prescription to cover the now until... when the replacement reservoirs can get here.

Ug... no solution yet, more later.

Sunday, July 7, 2013


For a myriad of reasons, today I've felt completely floored by the world around me.  On one hand knocked down by my diabetes and on the other hand blown over by the beauty of Vermont, it seems like a good night to just sit down and possibly grab a glass of wine before I fall over.  Course too many glasses of wine and I'll fall over anyway, but that is easily avoidable.

So I went for a run this evening and, instead of making it back to the house in a blaze of "that was easy" glory, I had to cut the run a half mile short.  To switch things up, I decided not to take my usual town road route which begins down hill and ends on a grueling uphill climb and instead went up the mountain on a trail that'd starts at the end of the driveway.  Like all of my runs, the first mile was painfully tedious and the second mile began to loosen me up, but unlike the rest of my runs the third mile went down hill in a bad way.  The trees next to me began to feel like they were encroaching the trail, the path in front of me started oscillating and my head seemed to be swimming with spots similar to an optical migraine. No longer confident on my feet but thoroughly aware of my distance from home and my isolated location, I walked the remaining 2640 feet with a sincere hope I'd make it back with no more issues than I already had.

Upon getting to the house and flopping into a chair I checked my blood sugar.  I'd dropped to 41 mg/dL -- no wonder I felt off.   I thought my blood sugar was high enough before the run to not require more mid-way, but I can only thank God that my stupid assumption didn't result in anything more unsettling than the "what ifs" and "could haves" that are gripping me right now.  And while I hate the way my head feels when I have hypoglycemia, the dizziness that resulted from todays run and bound my butt to that chair for a good 40 minutes was punishment enough for me to plan better for next time.

While that spell took a bit to recover from, I found myself back in that same chair again after dinner in what I would consider a greater sense of stupor than earlier in the day.  Having corrected my glucose and eaten a full dinner, this second turn can only be associated with the emotional and mental shock that comes with having "old souled" children. Let me explain what happened:

As is usual post-supper, being the quintessential lover of dirt and all things nature that she is, my Mom took her nightly stroll through the property to appreciate the greens, browns and otherwise of the evening.  While quite picturesque on any given day, the John Constable clouds and amber glow of my favorite kind of mid-summer sunset of this particular occasion motivated her to take GV along just in case - given the Hollywood perfection of it all - Matthew Macfadyen were to come through the brush as Mr. Darcy professing his undying love to Miss Bennett.  The trees were glowing, sky was radiant and every particle of the world felt magically charged as if freshly formed by the hand of God.

Walking first from the kitchen porch down the narrow walkway past the nightshade bush, they turned down the hill and followed the lane past a very tall, likely very old sugar maple tree.  With several low hanging branches and a rope swing to rest upon, my Mom stopped to admire the essence of happiness the twinkling fireflies and rustling leaves caused just above their heads.  Comfortably enjoying the secure embrace of her Grandmother's arms, GV had until this point been quietly watching the dogs roam the grass in front of the barn, the swooping birds singing their evening recounts of the day, the small garter snake returning to its home amidst the raspberry patch and the silver wisp of temptation blowing across Grandmama's forehead.  But, even with life's distractions continuing around her per normal, something amid the stillness below that maple tree took hold of her attention... it was in that moment that with exacting deliberation that she reached for the wavering colors of the sunset as if to embrace them as a familiar comfort.  The way my Mother reported it was  that "without a doubt, if I hadn't been holding onto that child she would have leapt into the awe and floated away."

Now perhaps I give my seven month old more credit than due, but I cannot help but wonder what she knew about the evening that we did not? What angel did she see or greater-than-self connection did she make that we as adults have closed our minds to?  I know my Mom and I fully appreciated the glorious evening and the plum dumb luck that it is our good fortune to enjoy it (sans-hypoglycemia), but it was something beyond appreciation that GV expressed - something I am not sure there's an appropriate word for in our language, let alone my vocabulary...

And so I am sitting here stupefied.  I find myself swimming in thoughts and perhaps just as jumbled as I was earlier in the day.  I rarely take the time and capacity to register the world around me beyond the peripheral and my kids seem to display the ability in spades. I mean just yesterday GV discovered the second hand on the wall clock and seemingly understood the passing of the quantifiable with every tick... outside of a foot race, I cannot even remember the last time that an individual second as opposed to an entire minute was directly relevant to my conscientious thought.  It must be for reasons like this that so many of great writers took to these mountains in search of their muse and why some,  Frost and Thoreau for example, found it.

With that, I think I'll continue to bemuse myself and have that glass of wine after all.

Saturday, July 6, 2013


When it rains, it seriously pours here in Vermont!  I guess this is a weird year here in the Green Mountains with almost constant thunderstorms, but seeing as we're new and have no reference for whether this is abnormal or not, we're attempting to adjust, both literally and figuratively, to the torrential downpours and resulting flooding!

In hopes of keeping this place standing another 160 years, we had a structural engineer out to check out the house and give us a to-do list of what is absolutely necessary for stability.  Fortunately the buildings are in pretty good shape - note: this does not mean project free - and, with that good news under our belts, we were able to learn a lot of interesting tidbits about the historical construction, for example: many of the vertical support beams in our barn are original hand planed posts that were likely salvaged from another barn and brought in to construct this one before the main house in 1865; the flooring we discovered in the living room (and now the downstairs bedroom as well) is the original random plank wood flooring and it's in great condition; and the rubble foundation is unique for it's time because the rock size is markedly larger than most in the area due to the large field rocks used.

The dark patches around the rocks are
historic AND current water marks...
As happy as I am to learn these neat details and to have such historic charm oozing from every corner, this last bit of info about the foundation is actually structurally relevant rather than simply aesthetically pleasing... So old cellars in farm houses like this were purposefully designed to be porous so that the temperature would be lower and humidity higher to create a safe, natural food storage environment.  Some places, apparently, even cut running streams through their basement floors to get the moisture necessary to accomplish this aim.  Well, this place doesn't need that stream, not only because we have a magical thing called a refrigerator, but because the walls seep water with every rain shower - which, as you can imagine, is great for old school cellars, but not so awesome for modern storage or utility.

So after days and days of non-stop storms and a conspicuous absence of HB with a bucket (the previous owner took the sump pump and we're having basement work done later this fall), my Mom and I discovered about 4 inches of standing water on top of the half concrete, half dirt basement floor (thank goodness for wellies!).  Grandmama did some bailing with her "spare" energy and got quite a bit of the water out, but making an executive decision that we cannot care about everything, I've decided to ignore the literal flooding in the basement and worry about the figurative flooding elsewhere...

With my first paper due later this week, I've been trying to focus my non-running, non-playing, non-projecting time on an in depth, analytical reading of Gertrude Coleman's 1911 book Suffragette Sally.  Finding it hard to focus with so much activity about, I've tried to hole up near the one grounded outlet in the house (which of course is in the kitchen) to knock out several well written, highly cerebral (aka non-JVBC-personal narrative) pages while the other two- and four-legged house inhabitants entertain themselves elsewhere.

But, alas, concentration is for the birds as we're in full swing of several (because why would they come one at a time?) exciting firsts.  And since being a positive parent is - big picture wise - far more important than this one measly paper, the needs and accomplishments of GW and GV drown out the never-ending, water-logged to do list:

GW proudly showing off his first school
Summer 2014
1st first: Attempting to get GW ready to officially begin school this fall, we enrolled him part time in the day care program associated with my grad school.  Having never been in such an environment before, he's all sorts of atwitter about the toys, the games, the big kids, and (Heaven help me) THE GIRLS.  OMG.

Unfortunately he is the only 3.5 year old there and he's at that in-between stage where he's too big for the little guy-group and too young for the big kids group, but apparently he is happy to float between the groups as necessary and explore, interact and play with whomever is around.  Giving all of the credit for his success to his incredibly extroverted, confident personality, my first-timer parent worries are subsiding and this all seems pretty darn cool.

2nd first:  The big down side to GW's school experience, however, is that after a morning full of all out romping, he's getting home and refusing to nap.  With some degree of dread I have to acknowledge that we have finally reached that point where, even with extra physical activity and stimulus, he (note: not me) no longer requires an afternoon respite.  Of course he turns into a gremlin just in time for dinner and becomes thoroughly impossible until tucked into bed, but my stubbornness and HB's pigheadedness have genetically transferred to the little man and there is no convincing him that maybe, just maybe a nap is still a good idea.

First tooth, front and center!
3rd first:  GV is getting her first tooth.  With sopping wet onsies and a ear-piercing scream that seems to only be off-set with constant nursing, we're attempting to get her through this painful time with some degree of remaining sanity.  She's incredibly satisfied with her new found talent of biting and, Lord help me, I'm still planning to breast feed her until 12 months for auto-immune purposes... fortunately she prefers to chew on my shoulder than elsewhere, but seriously, ouch.   It's an excellent thing she's cute!!

4th first: until recently, GV has been a relatively quiet child.  She does NOT like talking to strangers and, even with just us around, she reserves most of her squeals, coos and goos for particularly enjoyable moments.  But, as of last week, she has turned a new leaf and said her first word. While lying in bed with us and basking in the morning sunlight, GV roles over, sits up and look at HB's chest hair with an expression of deep contemplation.  She then reaches out and, in a 7 month old kind of way, begins to grope at his chest saying - I kid you not - "tickle tickle!"  Needless to say, when we reported this new development to GW, the resident tickle monster, he was beyond pleased with his protege's progress.

Granted, these firsts aren't negative things and therefore cannot be claimed against some universal karmic insurance policy for parents, but it is a lot of new all at one time and each change on its own is worthy of individual response, care and encouragement.  I think some day I'll look back on this and nostalgically ponder how amazing it was and how I managed to keep things a float (ha), but short of getting a few of those in-pool lounge chairs for the basement and perhaps a paper drink umbrella or two, it might not be as pretty in execution as will be in memory.  Water pails, tantrums, blood and homework... what a great combination!