Struggling

by Erin

That’s what the mom right before me in line to check in late to school had written in the “reason” column. The mom who signed “struggling” had already left by the time I was signing in, but I thought, “Aww, I want to give her a hug and be her friend.” I also cracked up laughing. I love the honesty of it. I might get that embroidered on a shirt. “Struggling” in a nice, innocuous, tidy script font on the breast pocket of a tidy shirt. My friend Ashley Garrison at The Hen and the Hare could make that for me, I know. With an embroidered heart on the sleeve. Gonna give you a call!

We all have days when we struggle. Sometimes those days turn into weeks, and months. When that happens, it is time to reach out for support. Find your support. As Rebekah Rap likes to say on T1D Mod Squad, “Find your tribe and love them hard.” Support makes all the difference and comes in varying degrees. What has made the biggest difference for me is just knowing I am not alone in my struggles. It doesn’t remove what I’m dealing with at the moment, but it certainly changes my attitude and makes it easier for me to keep calm and carry on.

The morning of the struggling sign in, I had put an insulin infusion site on Grasshopper before school. The process is much improved from our early days. When he was first diagnosed he used syringes and we had to inject him with insulin at least 6 times a day and more if he wanted an extra snack. Seven months after diagnosis he got a pump. He was two years old and I had to physically restrain him with my body while also trying to correctly inject a cannula just under the skin of his tummy or thigh. It was like trying to pin down an angry octopus for a tentacle piercing. Every three days. The angry octopus learned quickly and got wily. He would hide. Barter. Beg. It ended in tears and screaming forboth of us. Mr. Mister was highly involved (thank goodness) and in those early days he was my go-to for putting on sites. My job was to hold the squirming, crying, frantic toddler. But there were plenty of times when I had to do it myself or call on our sweet neighbor Ashley to help. Thank the Lord for compassionate friends and neighbors. And I eventually adapted so that I could do them myself with less drama, less struggling for all involved.

Now at age 6 we have streamlined the process with input from the boy himself. We put on numbing cream, wait at least 15 minutes, wash it off, wipe the area with rubbing alcohol, and wait 2 minutes for it to dry completely. Just before we apply a new site Grasshopper chooses a number of deep breaths to take. He’s done as few as 6 and as many as 23. I do the deep breathing with him. The day he chose 23 we were both feeling pretty mellow by the end! After the deep breaths he spreads his feet out to brace himself and tells me, “Readyyyyyy… seeeeet…. gooo…” in a shaky voice. I squeeze the spring loaded applicator that shoots the needle and cannula into his skin. I count 10 seconds and then pull the needle out, leaving the cannula in place. He gets one Nerd or one Jelly Belly for holding still during site changes. So, all of that to say, while this particular morning’s insulin infusion site change wasn’t as traumatic as it has been for us in the past, it still took up a chunk of time and was an extra hurdle for us. Add in two knocks to the head in one week with trips to the pediatrician for concussion evaluations and yeah… I have an active 6 year old boy. I’m struggling. But I’m here.

A major turning point for me was meeting Alese and having someone to talk with in person who understood the language of T1D. I asked her on a recent random Tuesday what her mental To Do list looked like.

In the spirit of support, I am preparing a new page on this site for resources and I will add to it as I am able. Know that whatever you are dealing with in this moment, you are not alone. Reach out. Find people who have been where you are. We are here with you and we can help.

3 Comments

  1. Thank you for sharing. When people read this it should give them a new sense of renewal to know they, like you, are not alone. We all have our struggles, some are harder and more severe than others. Regardless of the severity we all should gain a level of inner peace when we take time to share part of our stories. You may never know what you say at any given time to any given person will impact their lives. On those hard days take a quick moment to look up at the horizon an know you will make it to your journey’s end.

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