Sweet Magic

Sweet Magic

Can it be as simple as second nature,
a handful of grapes and you instantly
know how to bolus, dosing the insulin
while having a conversation?

Is it magic, when you automatically
correct a low after a gym session
with juice and crackers? Remember,
your body is not on autopilot.

And what about the tech? That first
pump was magic enough, but now
it sends texts to your pocket computer.
How’s that for magic?

And that device on your skin,
the one that reads your blood sugar
like a book, but between the lines,
sending data to that same cell phone.

If you were meant to have this curse,
how lucky are you to have a mind that adjusts
so easily, or to be alive in a time when
magic is becoming commonplace? Very.

I’ve written about my daughter’s “adventures in diabetes” before.

The prompt for NaPoWriMo.net Day 13 is to write a poem about something mysterious and spooky, or in this case “just the everyday, mysterious, spooky quality of being alive.”

healthline.com – Insulet Corp. Omnipod (insulin pump)
dexcom.com – Continuous Glucose Monitor


One Drop at a Time

One Drop at a Time

Who would notice that a tiny girl was even tinier?
Did you take weeks or months to get there?

But five pounds was ten percent, and that first test strip
was a like a klaxon demanding a visit to the hospital.

We didn’t have weeks or months. Blood sugar levels
through the roof meant a three day stay.

Three days to learn the ways of a new life, and an eight-year old girl
grew up faster than any child should have to.

Learning the ins and outs, the highs and lows
of glucose management, the threat of bodily harm.

Things that shouldn’t be second nature. Thousands of finger sticks.
Thousands of injections. Dosage by instinct.

The gift of technology and the learning curve
of an insulin pump, worn like a badge of honor.

Advances meant that your phone could monitor your pump,
but still those finger sticks that continued for seventeen years.

Until those three magic letters, CGM. A continuous glucose monitor,
inserted like your pump, with constant blood glucose readings.

It was a long wait, but suddenly your numbers are manageable,
the threat of complications is reduced, and we all breathe easier.

Someday soon, your CGM will be able to talk to your insulin pump,
and that tiny girl, now a woman, will have her artificial pancreas.

My daughter, Alyssa, was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when she was eight-years old. Within a year or two she had her first insulin pump, but finger sticks to test her blood continued for each meal or snack, and any time symptoms of high or low blood sugar were present. The pump connected to a tiny tube, changed every few days, that delivered insulin beneath her skin. It would need to be disconnected/connected before/after strenuous activity, so she went without it for three years during high school athletics. She now wears a pump that attaches directly to her skin, so there is no tube, and, for the first time, she recently acquired a continuous glucose monitor (CGM). She has stayed relatively healthy over the years, and as a school counselor she has the excellent character to be an advocate for students with diabetes.  (I have a few poems written about our experience here.)

The prompt for Day 3 of NaPoWriMo is to write a poem that involves a story or action that unfolds over an appreciable length of time, perhaps focusing on imagery, sound or emotional content. I think I’ve got that covered.

Image source: dexcom.com


mid-night reading


mid-night reading

numbers flash before my eyes
digital signal from a drop of red

correction, new message
delivered back to the source

all of this on autopilot, my mind
elsewhere, but right here

poke her, prod her
in the unfaltering trust of her slumbers

bringing unease at the thought
of yet another vulnerability

Hold a child’s trust in your hand, and you will know what it’s like to be a parent.
But you cannot always be a guardian. You can only hope that such faith will always be well placed. Such are my thoughts at 2 am, during a mid-night reading.

My daughter was diagnosed with type-1 diabetes when she was eight years old, and this was written in 2004, when she was ten. I would check on her when I got home from work after midnight. That would mean a finger stick to test her blood glucose level – the reading visible on the test meter – followed by settings on her insulin pump if her level was low (which would happen while she slept).
She is now 25, and very fit. In her desire to stay updated on her levels without constant finger sticks, she now has a continuous glucose monitor (CGM), which stays in her side with a tiny insertion and sends a reading to her phone app. It does just what the name says. I’m proud of her determination and the fact that she serves as an excellent role model as a school counselor.

I have a few poems written about our experience here.

This poem was brought to mind when I read Insulated, by Iain Kelly.

Image source: nih.gov

sweetness of honey

sweetness of honey

sweetness of honey

From the time my eight-year-old daughter was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation has been a resource and source of inspiration for my family. Offering education about blood glucose management and group events that bring together children and young adults who do not have to feel conspicuous in their special needs; providing a support network of parents who can offer insight and advice regarding the many challenges facing our children; and offering genuine concern for each new child diagnosed. These are the resources provided by JDRF.

The goal of JDRF is to find a cure for diabetes. The numerous fundraising events held by each chapter throughout the year that allow it to provide these resources also allow it to underwrite major research in medication and technology aimed at finding a cure for this deadly disease. One of those events is the Walk to Cure Diabetes (now JDRF/One Walk), and the Western New York Walk raises several hundred thousand dollars each year. Our family team, composed of friends and relatives, participated in the Walk for eleven years. It seemed only natural to support a cause that is so close to our hearts, and our team was able to collect over $60,000 for JDRF. One day, there will be a cure.

sweetness of honey
irony of stinging bee
blossom’s surprises

This haibun is my response to Frank Tassone’s #Haikai Challenge #48: Causes.

Shadows Dark

Shadows Dark.jpg

Shadows Dark

So dark in the darkness
that when you woke you spoke
of something wrong
longing to haunt you
with a secret spelled out
in an unnamed pain, strangling
sweetness and innocence
as if they meant nothing.

They wait, still, even
in the light of day, your will
the only thing slowing
their advance.

This probably is not to prompt for Day 8 of National/Global Poetry Writing Month (write a poem in which mysterious and magical things appear), but there it is.

It was after midnight, and I sat in the kitchen reading the paper after a late afternoon shift at work, when my daughter entered the room as frantic and scared as any eight-year-old girl could be. Something was wrong, but she couldn’t name it, couldn’t even describe it. I soothed her and stroked her temple until her eyes closed and she fell asleep. She had no memory of that night terror the next morning, and it was the only one we were aware that she experienced. She was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes a short time later, with blood glucose levels through the roof. Like any child experiencing extreme challenges, she had her ups and downs, but eighteen years later she keeps its effects at bay.

Image source: Tarantula Nebula, Astronomy Picture of the Day

NaPoWriMo 2018

Für Elise

Für Elise

Für Elise

What good is an arrow in the heart of a child?
Or her leg. Her fingertips.
Any circumstance can seem random.
The outcome? Not so much.
Will you hear her whimpering in the night?
An organ does not care what note it goes out on.
Consider 20,000 finger sticks. That is a small part of a life.
Roget’s Thesaurus gives seven choices for injection.
One would be sufficient, but it’s never enough.
Organs can be replaced, at a cost.
Limbs don’t have that luxury.
Is her vision of the future cloudy or clear?
Plenty of things could go wrong.
Thinking there is no right answer is one way.
Management has a voice, but it must be exercised.
Make it a positive note.

I am so proud of my daughter. Diagnosed at eight years of age with type 1 diabetes, she has been determined to not let that stand in her way. She was always active as a child, continuing into adulthood. There have been some hard times, but she has maintained a positive attitude. Now, as a grade school counselor, she understands that each child is unique, with an insight that comes from the experience of her own challenges.

The five word prompts for The Secret Keeper’s Weekly Writing Prompt #111 are right, arrow, hear, child and good.
Image source: usnews.com