Sunday, 31 January 2010
Saturday, 30 January 2010
Arriving home I had two articles of post. For myself there was an envelope of newspaper clippings from my pal Rod. He kindly saves bits and pieces that he thinks might interest me, and this batch includes a report from the Telegraph on 28 November 2009, with the headline "Mild winter ahead", describing the Met Office's prediction for the then forthcoming winter. It's easy enough for us to laugh in retrospect isn't it?
And Frank had a parcel from friends in Germany. Their daughter had put together a parcel consisting of a tub of Haribo jelly bears, and a colouring book sponsored by Haribo, full with pictures of sweets. We whisked the colourful jelly bears out of sight, and wondered if we could think of a less appropriate gift for a little boy with diabetes? We know it wasn't intentionally wrong, but it got us thinking about other inappropriate gifts. Snickers for someone with a peanut allergy? Pork pies for Muslims? A ticket for a multi-cultural event for a Klansman?
The portent of the 666 ticket has been nagging me this evening. I've just been up to check Frank, and his blood-sugar level is (unusually) perfect. Only an hour to go today, and nothing can go wrong..... Good night all.
Sunday, 24 January 2010
We're gathering lots of diabetes data under Frank's new testing and administering regime, and trying to make sense of it all. We're now weighing his food, calculating the carbohydrate content, and working out insulin doses. Plus we've got data from fingerprick blood testing to measure where his blood-sugar levels are at that instant. Calculating insulin doses based on what he's going to eat, and factoring in a bit more to correct for the (most likely) over-high blood sugar levels.
Meanwhile Frank's doing his own calculations. We're looking at the lions, and one has died since our last visit. "There used to be two, but now there's one", Frank tells me. In the next cage is a swarm of Persian mice. There's usually around a dozen in there, but today there's heaps all over the floor of the cage, on the rocks, and up at the high level platforms and ropes. A quick estimate and I'd clocked around two hundred meeces, suggesting they'd been busy amusing themselves over Christmas, or the snakes had lost their appetites. I asked Frank how many mice were in the cage, and he had a good look round, muttered a string of numbers under his breath, and pronounced after his deliberations "there are eight mice".
A quick scoot round the apes and tortoises, and it's back home for lunch, where we discover he has a high of 24 (when we should be between 4 and 8), so it's another big injection of insulin, to correct his high and to allow for his soon-to-be-eaten lunch, but he isn't that hungry which leaves him potentially overdosed on insulin. And sure enough, two hours later he crashes into a hypo episode at 2.8.
We know what to do, but it's back to Peter Greenaway films again, and this time it's Drowning by Numbers.
Thursday, 21 January 2010
Monday, 18 January 2010
1. Where is your cell phone? bagpuss
2. Your hair? gone
3. Your mother? window-monitor
4. Your father? English
5. Your favourite food? custard
6. Your dream last night? x-cert?
7. Your favourite drink? tea
8. Your dream/goal? coping
9. What room are you in? vacant
10. Your hobby? generalist
11. Your fear? loss
12. Where do you want to be in 6 years? family
13. Where were you last night? reading (a book, not the town in Berkshire)
14. Something you aren't? dancer
15. Muffins? custard tarts!
16. Wish list item? cure.
17. Where did you grow up? not there yet
18. Last thing you did? wood-chopping
19. What are you wearing? old check shirt
20. Your TV? argumental
21. Your pet(s)? no way
22. Your friends? thanks guys
23. Your life? fortunate
24. Your mood? questioning
25. Missing someone? Tom
26. Vehicle? bikes
27. Something you're not wearing? cowboy boots
28. Your favourite store? Stanford's (map shop in London)
29. Your favourite colour? blue
30. When was the last time you laughed? suppertime
31. Last time you cried? diabetes, diabetes, diabetes
32. Your best friend? Jules
33. One place that I go over and over? scottish highlands
34. One person that e.mails me regularly? facebookers
35. Favourite place to eat? Cafe Vague, Benodet, Brittany (how can you answer that in one word?)
This album was Frank's random selection for today, and very enjoyable it was too, for J, S and F, who had never before heard anything like it, and never want to hear it again, not even his version of "Politician". So, what are your favourite worst albums of all time?
Sunday, 17 January 2010
Saturday, 16 January 2010
And talking about Frank, today we invited him to choose the music, and he randomly picked out some vinyl from my collection. It makes a change from my usual selection of a familiar favourite, and gives an opportunity to re-discover a forgotten treasure. And by chance Frank chose Saint Saens' "Carnival of the Animals", one of only two or three records of music written for children, out of a four feet wide shelf of 12" vinyl. Many familiar tunes, first heard by me as a schoolboy, yet not known at all by our cultured French lodger.
It was enjoyed by all, which is more than can be said for the second random selection, where I pulled out "Grateful Dead" (the skull and roses album for any Deadheads reading this) and randomly played side two, with its single eighteen minute track "The Other One". The opening drum solo was tolerated for about five minutes, before it was turned down as it was curdling the wine and causing the peas to roll across the table. If we lived in a democratic household, the Grateful Dead would have joined the toilet seat on the fire, but I'm a benign dictator and I discretely slipped it back on the shelf. If they had listened to the "Wharf Rat/ Not Fade Away/ Goin' Down the Road Feeling Bad" medley on side four they would have shown it more mercy. Given the five-year slumber of my vinyl records, I can hardly wait to discover what Frank plucks out of obscurity tomorrow.
Thursday, 14 January 2010
Last week's interventions, as we attempt to do the work of his pancreas, have been rather unsuccessful, giving worse results than we had before. Despite much more testing, more frequent injections and lots of fretting to try and make the diet/ exercise/ insulin balance somewhere near right, we have slipped back a bit. But we have excellent support and access to all the information you could ever want. Today the diabetes specialist nurse visited us, with the goodies needed to try an entirely different approach to insulin injection timing, and choosing different products to better match the release to the time when it's demanded by the body. And the diabetes experts advise that it's not just about insulin, diet and exercise; it's more about insulin, love and care.
Today's readings have been poor, and Frank's behaviour sometimes tricky (directly linked with his high blood sugar, ie it's not his fault!). Starting tomorrow, after testing he has a new 24-hour basal insulin as first course before breakfast, with a shot of quick-acting to work on his breakfast porage (I prefer the Scottish spelling!) and fruit. Then before lunch another test and a shot of fairly quick acting insulin, then testing before tea-time, where he may need another shot of quick-acting to deal with his supper (a balanced meal with all the food groups, which is a good excuse to eat a bit of beef). With this series of events we hope that his average blood sugar is within the range that those of us with a working pancreas would enjoy.
Despite these difficulties, we have good hearts for the big task in hand. There has been some discussion about whether the treatment of diabetes is an art or a science. My conclusion is it's a labour of love.
Tuesday, 12 January 2010
Looking round, it's easy to focus on the wooden and plastic playthings under our feet, but blending in the background and overlooked are the things from BC (before child). Why should we cuss about the toys Frank currently plays with (especially when we tread on them in the night), when we have heaps of dead stock filling our house? So we're in a clear-out frenzy, reviewing our belongings, and asking ourselves if we need to keep them. And one bulky set is our books, collected over the last thirty-five years. Are we ever going to get round to reading our shelves of unread books? Do we still need the non-fiction now we have the internet? Much as we love some of the titles, are we ever going to re-read many of our old favourites? Have we opened these books in the last five or ten years? Are they now out of date? How many years do we have left to read or re-read all our books, and what will we choose to do with our remaining time? And finally, if we regret letting a book go, we can always pick up another copy.
All very fine in principle, but what about the practice? It's a painful process, and about a hundred titles have gone so far, giving us two metres of shelf space to move various objects off the floor. Today I took a batch of books to the office, offering colleagues the opportunity to pick them over, before I lug the bulk of them up the hill to the Oxfam Bookshop. So goodbye Bronte's Jane Eyre, auf wiedersehen Hesse's Steppenwolf, and au revoir Andre Gide's The Immoralist.
The latter was picked up by a workmate, who found a handwritten letter inside. I immediately recognised my grandmother's handwriting, and I had used it as a bookmark when I read it. The letter was undated, but it referred to the forthcoming event that was the birth of their great grandchild. Yes, these book pages and letter hadn't been opened since 1982. I can't remember the book at all, but I have very fond memories of my Nan (who died ten years ago), and a 27-year old daughter who's very much alive.
Sunday, 10 January 2010
Friday, 8 January 2010
Aye, it's lonesome down on the forest floor; with all the talk, action and laughter up at the canopy. No wonder he gets frustrated, and sometimes seeks attention to be more involved. But, despite the prescence of all our lovely guests, he's very much been most of our thoughts today, as we wrestle with his diabetes. Day one of the new bloodsugar management regime, and we await tomorrow morning's reading, to see how we have done. It's a trial and error, iterative process, and we hope our first (educated) guess is somewhere near the target.
The picture above was taken on or near the winter solstice, in Brittany. He was fascinated by his tall shadow, from the low sun. Right now our days are in turmoil, getting the hang of living with diabetes. But we believe we're past the darkest days, and our family life will become lighter again. Frank, you're our little hero.
Thursday, 7 January 2010
Wednesday, 6 January 2010
Cycling home was a different story. The morning's relatively safe fresh snow on clear road, had changed to the evening's treacherous compacted, rutted snow, slush and ice. I walked one third of the way, cycled very slowly on the cycle track for another third, and steadily rode on the main road.
Carefully I tiptoed across roads covered with "sheet" ice, so named because that is what you scream, as your wheel slips from under you. And we've another four days of sub-zero temperatures and more snow every day. Time to put the bike away, and walk, methinks.