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Home is Where the Diabetes Supplies Are

We just moved into a new house. We have been renters our whole married lives and finally made the leap into being homeowners. I love it. It's so nice to be able to paint whatever color I want and hang as many pictures as I want. There is also something special about just knowing that it's ours.

But, in the midst of all the bliss of finally having our own home, diabetes keeps poking out its ugly little head.

First, it was during the packing phase. I had so much stuff that I'm not sure why I ever had in the first place, let alone know why I kept any of it. Riley's diabetes supplies were in the living room closet. They were kept together for the most part, but over the years some things had gotten separated from the pack. I found too many meters to count. I threw out some and kept some. I had to debate on which ones to scrap. Finally I just got rid of the older ones. After all, we all know that meters are a dime a dozen. Companies are happy to give you free meters. Where they really make their money is with the strips anyway.

In that same closet I came across Riley’s bag. It is a little black nylon lunch bag. We used to keep all of his supplies in it, insulin, syringes, juice, alcohol swabs, ketone strips, glucagon. We took it wherever we went. That bag has been places. I’m not much of a purse kind of girl, but a few years into his diagnosis I broke down and started carrying one with me. It’s very practical for carrying all the needed diabetes equipment. When I finally gave in and started carrying a purse, we retired that bag. After I pulled it out of the closet I turned to throw it in the trash bag next to me. I held it there and let it hover of the bag for a second before I turned and tossed into a storage bin that would be put in the attic. I just couldn’t bare to throw it away.

When I cleaned out the kitchen cabinets, up in the far corner in the darkest recesses of one cabinet I found some more diabetes loot. I then remembered that when Riley was first diagnosed we kept his supplies in a kitchen cabinet. That was back in the injection days. Once he started on the pump there wasn't enough room there for all the supplies and most were moved to the closet. I found a few strays lancets, some insulin syringes, and several alcohol wipes.

I reached in and felt around one last time before moving on. I pulled out 3 small slips of paper. I turned them over to see what they were and stared at them for the longest time. They were prescriptions given to us when Riley was discharged from the hospital. The date in the corner was 10/7/05. Suddenly, I was taken back to that day. I stared at the neatly printed words. They were written by a woman just out of medical school who was very unsure of herself. It took her forever to write the prescriptions. And, when I took them to the pharmacy they were written for over the counter things like alcohol pads, lancets, and ketone strips. They were returned to me and for the life of me I’m not sure why I kept them.

But, there they were, in my hand, a harsh reminder of the day he was diagnosed. All of a sudden I was bombarded with images from the hospital. I slept in the bed with Riley at the hospital. I remember the first morning I woke up and saw Michael sleeping in the chair. Riley was still sound asleep beside me. I woke up, looked at him, saw the IV sticking out of his little hand, and promptly burst into tears. All I could think was “It wasn’t a dream. This is a reality. My little boy will have to deal with this disease forever. It’s never going away.”

I got up out of the bed and tried to get myself together. I tried to stop the tears before anyone saw me. At that moment, the doctor who wrote his prescriptions walked in. She began to blab on about something and when she finally looked at me she saw the tears. She looked at me and said, “Are you crying? Don’t cry, everything is going to be OK.” She looked terrified because she didn’t really know how to handle a crying mother. At the sound of her voice Riley had stirred from his sleep. He sat up in bed. I quickly turned my back toward him and faced the wall. My back was to the doctor also. I forced the tears to stop. I had made a promise to myself that Riley would never see me cry about his diabetes. And, since that day, I’ve cried a river, no an ocean, of tears. But, I haven’t broken that promise I made to myself. I remember as I was turned around she kept droning on and on about something. And, all I could think was that I wanted her to shut up and leave.

All these memories came from just a few pieces of paper, memories that had been tucked in the recesses of my mind. Ones I hoped some day I would forget, but I know now I never will.

We are finally moved into our new house now. I had packed all of Riley’s diabetes necessities up in a box. Instead of unpacking them right away I let them sit in our closet for a little while. Eventually, I got tired of digging through them to find what I needed. I began to search for the best place to put them. I finally settled on a shelf in a hall closet. There they sit: sites, strips, IV prep, cartridges, Glucagon, old meters, a few syringes. They take up a whole shelf.

Once I got them placed in the closet I took the box they were packed in and threw it down the hall. Michael came in and asked what was going on. I told him I was angry. I was angry that I had to find a place for all these things. I was angry that Riley needed these things to live, angry that he always will. Angry that every house he ever moves into will have to have a special place for all the things it takes to keep him alive.

This is the just another example of how diabetes taints every aspect of life. It even makes its mark on a new house. It makes marks on Riley’s fingers, permanent scars on his skin. And, it has made permanent marks on my heart.

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