Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Positively Abby

One of the greatest things is that no matter what craziness is happening in our lives, Abby remains Abby. She continues to be joyful, precocious, sweet, and imaginative. A perfect example of this is how Abby has been getting her shots and finger pokes of late.

The rooms may change, sometimes we are in the dinning room and sometimes we are in her bedroom, but the procedure is always the same. Here's how it usually goes:

"Doctor Mom" or "Doctor Dad" gets all the gear ready, while Abby runs to a corner of the room. See, this is her riding the elevator to the "Doctor's office". As I make sure I've got the band aide and glucometer ready, Abby "beeps" and "boops" herself to the right floor.

Next, Abby will remind me that I need to consult my computer - to see who my next patient is, of course. "Dr. Mom" is always so happy to see that Abby is up next. That's when I have to go on the PA to call Abby back to my exam room.

As soon as she hears her name, her face lights up and she "swooshes" open the elevator door. We greet each other with a handshake and she takes her seat across from me. We chat about her day, and I ask where she would like her finger poke or her shot. And here's the thing that always gets me - she never loses her smile as she gives me her answer. As she tells me about her "crazy dream", or what she learned that day in school, we get things taken care of. Everything is so quick and easy, that I think we both are a bit surprised when everything is over. That's when she'll look at me and say, "I did it! I'm brave!" I always agree with her.

Yes, Abby is ever positive. Leave it to her to make something that could be so difficult, into fun pretend play.

Have I mentioned how much I love that kid?


Saturday, April 27, 2013

Friday Phone Dump - A Day Late

Yesterday, as I was driving home from school, I thought it would be a perfect day to write a post, more specifically a "Friday Phone Dump".  I had all sorts of cuteness on my phone, just waiting for a broader audience. Sure most of them had already been posted to Facebook, but who wouldn't want to see them all again - all in one spot?

Then, Jason zipped back to work for an event, Abby and I decided on spaghetti and meat balls for dinner, we colored, we snacked, and then it was off to the tub. By the time Abby was fast asleep, all I was fit for was sitting under my afghan and vegging in front of the T.V......that was until I found I'd drifted off.

So, here's the Friday Phone Dump - a day late.

After Abby's first (three hour) "diabetes" doctor appointment we thought she certainly deserved
a trip to the toy store. She picked out this flashy (literally) mic and amp set - I'm sure no one
is surprised. She enjoyed a fun-filled day of singing and dancing....that was until she got the flu.

Daddy also splurged for some make-up. She couldn't get enough of
the eyeshadow and lip gloss. Oh, boy........

Pedicure - Abby style!
BTW: Could her toes be any cuter? Don't think so!

The flu kept us home on Monday. The bright spot of the day was the surprise friend that
ended up on our doorstep. Abby now believes that every box that arrives at our door holds
a surprise for her. Thanks, Aunt Debbie and Uncle Charlie!

Wreck-It-Ralph had to get his sugar checked after Abby had her turn. According to Abby
his number was a shocking 27....the poor guy!

Yesterday Abby didn't have school, so Daddy took a day off and they headed out
to Nana and Papa's for some fun. Abby found the ultimate dress-up dress.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

She's Got This!

There are many, many good things about Abby, but one of the best is that you can't keep her down. She is probably the most positive person I know, and she takes everything in stride.

Yesterday was Abby's first day back to school. I went with her in the morning, and was there for snack time, and to administer her lunchtime dose of insulin. I was also able to sit down and go through her dietary and medicinal needs with her teachers. I told others that my being there was a way of "easing" her back into the routine, but as I sat in the former nurse's office, waiting to take her blood sugar and give her insulin, I was able to watch her play at recess from the window. I watched her running, hand-in-hand, with her friends. I watched her laughing and drawing rainbows on the sidewalk. I even watched her steal a ball from a couple of kids, and then run off, hoping to claim it as her own - the stinker. In essence, I watched her being a happy kid. I knew then that any "easing" was for me and not for her. She'd bounded back into the routine of school with the same gusto that she did most everything else. It was I who needed the reassurance that everything would be alright.

When she happily bopped into the office, holding her lunch bag, she greeted me with a happy, "Hi, Mom!" She then proceeded to blow me away by standing for her finger poke and shot without a peep. In under a minute we were finished and she was walking back to lunch, holding her teacher's hand.


Pride and hopefulness washed over me in a wave. Throughout all of this I've known that everything would be alright - yesterday I felt that everything would be alright.

Today was another good day. She still is struggling with her evening regimen. By the end of the day she doesn't want any more "medicine" and she doesn't want to pick a finger for the poke. She doesn't want to hear that she can't have a second helping of cereal, or she has to wait for tomorrow morning to have her yogurt, because she's met her carb quota for the night. I can't blame her - not one bit, but the fact that the morning and afternoon go so smoothly fills me with such hope.

The last two days have helped me remember that through all of this we are dealing with Abby, and she is one amazing kid....and she's got this!

I think we both enjoyed the fact that Mom got to help with her
morning work - she did a fabulous job, of course!

It's a bit blurry, but Abby is the one in green amidst that group hug.
Now this makes my heart happy.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013


I like to tell myself that medicine is an exact science, that every "problem" has a clear and concise solution. If you have a headache - you take a pill. If you brake a bone - you get it set and immobilized. If you have diabetes - you take insulin. I keep learning though, that despite the fact that there are constants, there are far more variables. Medicine is much like teaching in that regard. Just as every student is different, and every strategy doesn't work for every child - every body is different, and even though we got several books on diabetes, none of them where entitled: "Diabetes for Abby".

The last few days have been surreal, to say the least. I don't think I've still fully wrapped my head around the fact that food logs, eating schedules, pokes, and shots are our new norm. Each night, after Abby has gone to sleep, I take time to get things done that I couldn't do when she was awake, and then I head to bed. In short, I haven't had a lot of "down-time" to think and I realized today that this may have been a bit of a blessing.

Yesterday was the first day that Abby and I were on our own for any length of time, since Jason had to head back to work in the afternoon. We had a great time, and even got in a walk (where she filled me in on all sorts of things, like rainbows and unicorns). She even helped with her pre-dinner finger poke, by holding her glucometer. It was when I read 474, though that it clicked why she'd been so thirsty after our walk. That was high, way too high. The instructions we were given said that if her sugar level went above 400 we were to call - and call I did. Luckily, Abby has a wonderful doctor, and I was able to talk directly to him. He changed her insulin dosage and talked me down. Maybe that's when my worries began. Since he'd upped her insulin, would she be okay during the night? Those worries spilled over into today.

One of my questions today prompted me to call the Diabetes Center in town. While talking to a nurse I learned that physical activity can cause both high and low blood sugar, it just depended on the person. I also learned that both high and low sugar can cause sleepiness. In essence, some of the symptoms for both highs and lows are the same. I began to wonder, If the symptoms are the same, how am I ever supposed to know what I'm supposed to do? I can't be pricking the poor kid's finger every time she feels sweaty, or stops moving for more than a few minutes.

These thoughts, along with the fact that tomorrow we will be easing her back into school, left me feeling tired and overwhelmed. It was while I was doing dishes that I was struck with the sudden urge to weep - and since Abby was playing in the other room I felt "safe" to let go. As I worked I let the gulping sobs come out and the tears roll down my face. It was a release I needed.

I came to the realization that diabetes has robbed me of a bit of my joy. Now, when Abby is dancing or running, I can't just sit back and enjoy without wondering what her activity is doing to her blood sugar. It has even spilled over into her pretend play. The last few days, when we've played "check-up", along with listening to our hearts and looking in our ears, she now includes poking fingers and "getting medicine" as a part of the routine - this breaks my heart.

My mind knows that things will get better, but right now my heart hurts.

A couple of buddies enjoying the nice weather. 

After our walk Abby decided that our driveway would look much better
with a nice pink rainbow. I agree!

Daddy was the hero today because the Incredibles outfit that he'd ordered
arrived. I think it is very fitting, don't you? She IS pretty incredible.

Incredible Abby reading through the stack of cards that my class sent.
Have I mentioned how wonderful my students are?

Friday, April 12, 2013

Pivotal Points

After we got Abby's diagnosis of Down syndrome I remember needing some time to process what that all meant. I remember thinking that this would be a pivotal moment in our lives, that from that point on things would be very different than we'd ever expected.

Soon enough Down syndrome became "normal". It was no longer something we just read about in books. It wasn't a bunch of statistics or perceptions. It became a part of who we are as a family and in many ways became a blessing in disguise.

Yesterday we had another pivotal moment.

For about a week now Abby has been having accidents. This is not the norm for her. It took her a while to get potty trained, but once she was, she was a pro. The accidents were few and far between (usually when she didn't want to stop playing), and she never wet the bed. My first thought when this changed was that it was a phase. I've learned with Abby that sometimes we take giant leaps forward, only to take a few steps back. Maybe this was one of those.

Since she'd been fighting a cold as well, I didn't think too much about her increased fluid intake....until Wednesday. No matter how much she drank, she couldn't get rid of her thirst. She drank so much that she didn't have any room for food, and yet she still told me over and over again how thirsty she was. I knew - I knew with every fiber of my "Mommy Sense" that something was not right.

The next day we were able to see Abby's doctor and he confirmed our fears, Abby has type 1 diabetes. We were to head directly to the hospital, where she would be admitted for several days while they got her blood sugar under control, regulated her insulin, and gave us a crash course in everything we would need to know.

Thankfully we were put in good hands, and they didn't throw too much information at us as we worked to get Abby settled and comfortable in her new environment. As the day progressed I watched her fight the finger pokes and shots, trying desperately to keep my composure and not let her see the storm inside me. All the while we had doctors and nurses assuring us that before long, this all would become routine, another part of our daily routine.


I just couldn't wrap my head around that, and I'm still trying to do that nearly 24 hours later. Last night, as I lay in a bed next to Abby, not sleeping, I couldn't help but think that we've once again reached a point at which from here on out our lives will not be the same. New words like, "ketones", "islet cells", and "lancet" have entered our vocabulary. We've been given a backpack filled with information books, cook books, and "gear". We will meet with an army of specialists from our endocrinologist to a dietitian, who will help us understand where to go from here. As I thought about all of this last night, I still gave thanks, because even though we will need to make changes - everything is manageable. There are far too many who's "pivotal points" are far more devastating. I am so thankful that Abby is in a place where she will get the help she needs and the medicine she requires to keep her healthy. How could I not be so very grateful that things had played out as they had?

Today will be a day of learning for Jason and me, and a time for Abby gain a new crew of fans. She's already begun charming the nurses and doctors with her sweet smiles and grateful attitude. She is resilient. She is strong. She is my hero.

Dr. Abby! She was thrilled right away to see her "scrubs" and so the
nurses have taken to calling her "Dr. Abby", they've even given her
some gear!

Not one who spends many nights away from home, I knew the night would be tough. She
did well though. Neither of us got much sleep, but she's a trooper.

I don't know if I've ever seen Abby so excited over a plate of bacon.
I literally had to hand her pieces so she didn't shovel them all in at once.
The poor thing was so hungry!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Our Cup Overflows

The fact that we've gotten to spend a whole week in Abby's constant company has made a few things crystal clear - she is growing up quickly and has come so very far. As you can imagine this makes me sad and ecstatic at the same time.

Tonight was a perfect example of what I mean. In the span of about 45 minutes I was able to accomplish tasks with Abby that a few short years ago would have taken at least double that - if we could accomplish them at all. I was able to clip her nails, wash her hair, floss and brush her teeth, and administer eye drops....all with absolutely no issues, in fact we had a great time with lots of giggles.

I can scarcely believe that the Abby of tonight is the same child that could barely tolerate having her hair brushed, or the child that would have regular melt-downs when she was presented with something unexpected. She has come so incredibly far, and become such a lovely young lady. A young lady who fills our day to the brim with joy. Yes, our cup is certainly overflowing.

Abby mugging for the camera before we did some baking.

She then decided that the inside of the bunt pan looked better as a hat.

This little face brings so much joy....it's impossible to express it all in simple words.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Spring Break - Valente Style

I have to say that we aren't known for having "smooth" vacations. I think this trend began with our honeymoon, and if we ever have a chance to chat over a cup of coffee, I'll share that one with you. We keep trying to break that trend though, and have great plans for a wonderful summer vacation out East this year.

When Spring Break rolled around we decided to take a mini-vacation, and get away to the family cottage for a few days. It had been far too long since we'd been up there, and even though it would be chilly, it still would be fun to do something out of the ordinary. Being the flexible lot that we are, we decided to head up on Tuesday. This gave Jason the opportunity to take our car in on Monday, just to catch up on maintenance and make sure it was "ship-shape" for the trip (this will be an important bit of info later).

We packed everyone snugly in the car and headed off for our adventure. About an hour into our trip we stopped off to get some Abby snacks. Abby was in full "charm" mode as we tooled around the store. As always, Abby smiled and greeted everyone we passed, but this time it paid off - she walked away with a sucker and a dollar, given to her by workers who were bowled over by her sweetness.

At this point, things were going smoothly, and Abby was wonderful, even when we had to hang out in a parking lot for about 45 minutes while Dad fielded some calls from work. Little did we know this wouldn't be only time we'd be sitting in a parking lot this trip.

It was another hour into the trip that our oil pressure light went on. Apparently, when they changed our oil they failed to fill our tank completely, nice huh? So, while Abby, Bruiser, and I waited in the car, Jason crossed five lanes of traffic in order to reach a store where he could buy some more oil. This "little" incident had us questioning whether we should just head home and call it quits, but we forged ahead.

Finally, finally we made it up there, and all of us were happy as clams to be at the cottage.....well, almost all of us. Bruiser is as much of a homebody as I am, and therefore he was all kinds of mixed-up to find himself somewhere new. I'm sure he thought we would be leaving him at any minute - and never coming back. I'm guessing that's why he kept up a pretty constant stream of whines nearly the whole time we were there.

We all ended up having a good time, even though it wasn't warm enough to go swimming or boating. Abby helped Daddy get firewood, and helped Mom try to wear out Bruiser by taking him for a walk. We played and took a day trip to the "big water", and even indulged in some world famous bacon. Even Nana and Papa came up for a day of fun. How much better could it get? We'd planned on staying until Friday, but that wasn't to be.

See, Abby had been fighting a cold all week, and being the good sharer that she is, she passed that on to Mom. By Thursday, I was a mess. It was time to come home.

We packed everything up and pointed the car towards home. Luckily there were no unexpected surprises along the way. Sure it took us a little longer, since we stopped off for a quick visit with Grandma (a visit where Abby told Jason and I to go out on a date, so she could spend time alone with Grandma having pillow fights, hmmmm....), but we finally made it home safe and sound.

And so, Spring Break comes to a close. You know, even though it wasn't what we'd anticipated it was still nice to have all of us together. The very best part though was how wonderful Abby was through it all. She was a trooper, and never lost her sunny outlook, no matter what was happening. I can't tell you how many times we would mention what a joy she is to be around. She's just happy, and therefore makes those around her happy as well. We were left with hope for a great time this summer - out East, and up at Nana and Papa's cottage on the lake.

Abby was an awesome wood stacker....who knew?

Dreaming of the summer ahead.

Despite the fact that it was freezing (and there was still ice in the water)
all Abby wanted to do was play in the sand and go swimming. We
kept a tight hold on her, lest she decided to go for it anyway.

I couldn't help but get flashes of the teen she will be one day as I looked back at
her in the car with the headphones on. We've come a long way from having
to listen to The Wiggles and Elmo during car trips - thank Heavens!