It’s the end of the rugby season and this weekend saw the very first tour for Canterbury U12s. Both my sons play for them so the three of us trekked off with the team to South Wales for a weekend of fun, fear, and fry-ups.
The boys left the club Friday morning in a minibus packed with soon to be sugared up pre-teens armed with mobile ‘phones. It was no wonder then that when I joined them in Wales that evening that the parents were well on their way to polishing off a barrel of Shepherd Neame beer and the boys were apparently having a party in their dorm.
The following morning it transpired that some individuals (I’m leaving out ages and names) managed to get about two hours sleep. This was clearly evident during the morning’s activity of gorge walking as plenty of people slipped and fell in the water with an alarming amount of regularity.
We went gorge walking with Call of the Wild. It was an amazing morning for a number of reasons. Both my sons are used to taking part in outdoor activities and some things that could be called ‘extreme sports’. In the past we’ve done white water rafting in Wyoming, rock climbing in the Rockies, hiking in the canyons in Utah and at home we regularly go mountain biking all over the place and rock climbing continues to be a feature of family days out.
But….all of this was BD – before diabetes. Since son #2’s diagnosis some six weeks ago we’ve managed to go climbing once – to The Reach, and we’ve been out once on our bikes just around the local lanes and bridleways. Both activities have involved us going armed with blood glucose testing kit, sugar tablets and cereal bars. It’s also involved the constant worry that he’ll go too low and pass out or go to high and become aggressive and begin vomiting. But you go anyway because it’s what we do and diabetes isn’t going to stop that.
As gorge walking involves being wet most of the time we couldn’t take the glucose meter – I’ve long suspected that it’s a comfort blanket at times and Saturday morning confirmed it. R needs, of course, to test as often as he feels it necessary and at the moment that’s a lot. I believe that part of the testing is him learning how he feels when he’s low or high and the machine backs up his suspicions. I also believe that he doesn’t trust himself and that little read out reassures him. It’s early days yet and if that’s what he needs to deal with this right now then that’s what he should do.
We took only a packet of lucozade tablets and a couple of cereal bars – he ate the cereal bar just as we were setting off and the tablets went into a dry bag that the instructor had strapped to himself. We were incredibly fortunate to discover that Paul, one of the instructors, knew all about Type 1 diabetes as his wife has had it since the age of 15. He’s also a first aid trainer, calm, confident and kind – just what we needed. At one point I thought R was having a hypo – he’d gone white and seemed a bit disorientated. So I called Paul over, he chatted to R, made him do some finger exercises and assessed him. No hypo – but he was extremely cold - it was freezing in the water and R isn’t very big or have much of a layer of fat on him. Star jumps were prescribed and within a couple of minutes he’d regained the colour in his cheeks and was back to moaning about how cold he was! Fortunately this happened right at the end of the morning and our next stop was watching the rest of the boys and dads jumping five meter drops into the swirling cold water. Then it was back to our bunk house where R checked his blood and discovered he was 4.4 – exactly in range just before a meal.
So diabetes hasn’t stopped him. He can continue to take part in any sports he wants to – we’d been told this but until you do it and prove it to yourself, you can’t believe it. Admittedly he had a couple of hypos within the next 24 hours (one right down to 1.8) but we were expecting that.
Last night when we got back from the weekend tour and this morning as I sort out stuff I’ve found myself increasingly tearful through sheer exhaustion and incredulity. I’m incredulous because I can’t believe that a) we got through the weekend without major event and b) that I even attempted the weekend with both boys on my own at all!
It was stressful and hard. It was hard to watch all of the other boys – R’s brother included and be reminded that he’s lost some of that freedom. It’s not fair that now he has to plan ahead with everything he does so that he eats and rests regularly. It’s not fair that he’s got to try to be sensible so much now. It’s not fair that he carries around fear with him every day.
I hate this disease.