On Math and Needles

It is 2:00 a.m. and here I am again. Hovering over my buddy boy’s crib and trying to gently wipe his finger with an alcohol swab without waking him up. I’m amazed by the fact that he can sleep through the entire blood sugar test now. Just last week when we were in the PICU he started whimpering whenever a nurse even walked into the room to do it. He sleeps through all of it now. The alcohol swab, the lancet pricking his finger, my squeezing a drop of his blood onto the meter and dabbing away the excess. I’m getting better at it now, too. And it’s only been 10 days.

It’s hard to believe that earlier last week I was blissfully unaware of what was going on inside Jack’s little body. His immune system had mistakenly decided to wage an all-out war on the insulin-producing cells in his pancreas. I thought he was just sleepy because he was going through a growth spurt. His body had been trying desperately to flush the excess sugar out of his system for weeks. I simply thought he was  peeing through all of his diapers because he needed a larger size. He was thirsty all of the time, day and night. I just thought he was a well-hydrated little guy. Finally, one night when he woke up four times and downed several glasses of water each time, I put two and two together and called the pediatrician in the morning for a blood test. Little did I know we would be spending the remainder of our week at Phoenix Children’s Hospital, eyes glazed over as we got a crash course in pediatric endocrinology.

Looking back over the last couple of days, I will definitely say I’ve had my highs and lows. Type 1 diabetes is lot to take in. There have been moments of unbearable anxiety for his future. Moments where I worry about his kidneys and feet and eyes and everything else. There have been phrases like “comorbidities” and “end-stage” that have nearly sent me over the edge. I’ve had moments where I’ve realized that playdates and trips to Grandma’s house will never be the same. And I have cried about all of it. But I’ve also had moments where my heart has swelled with gratitude for the outpouring of love, support, and encouragement we have received from friends and family. And I’ve cried about that, too. Meals provided, gifts and cookies and playdates for my older kids, flowers and balloons and phone calls and texts. Moments  of joy where I have gazed at my little Jack smiling and reaching for the bubbles I’ve blown for him and realized this could have been worse.

And now as I sit here in this half-lit room, gazing at Jack’s yummy round cheeks and his pouty lips wrapped around his thumb, I’m reminded that in this week of highs and lows, the highs have been resoundingly triumphant. They’ve knocked the lows straight out of the ring. There has never been a moment of despair that has not been immediately answered with a sense of calm. Not even once. There has been a consistent sense of peace that has gracefully laced it’s way through every doubt, subtly weaving the same phrase over and over again, “Kim, you can do this.” This, I know, is the answer to many prayers that have been so generously uttered on my behalf. This – as my mother-in-law so graciously reminded me – is truly the enabling power of the Atonement.  Because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, I can feel confident because I am in God’s hands. Jack is in God’s hands. We are not left to face this challenge alone. This is a source of strength that will continue to carry us as we face whatever challenges lay ahead.

As I was talking to a friend of mine the other night and explaining the complex mathematics used to determine Jack’s insulin dosage, I was joking with her that the Lord has made me face my two greatest fears: math and needles. Although, I feel the need to say that I don’t really fear math, I’m actually pretty good at it, but it’s like laundry and dishes, just another chore. Needles, on the other hand, are a genuine fear that I am still working on overcoming. But as I laughed nervously with her over the phone, the thought came again, and with more clarity than ever before. The phrase gathered above and shielded me like a peaceful shade on a hot summer day…

“Kim….you can totally do this.”