Monday, August 26, 2013

Back to School, Back to School

Today was a much-dreaded day across the state. No, there was no legislation against football, fishing or the death penalty. It was...well, the first day of school. School brings out the school supply nerd in all of us, or the worst Oscar the Grouch for us non-morning people.

As I watched multitudes of elementary school children be dropped off and photographed by their parents, I thought back to my own first days of school. Then I realized, I can't remember them. I was five. One of the few things I remember about Kindergarten were my Alf and McDonald's lunch boxes (those were so cool!). So I asked my mom to refresh my memory.

When I asked her to tell me about my first day of Kindergarten, her answer was short and sweet: "I don't know." Huh? How did she not remember?

"You wouldn't let me come with you. When I told you I wanted to take you, you said, 'don't go, Mama. I can do it myself!'." I don't know that I would have been that blunt... Oh, who am I kidding? Yeah, that sounds like me. I was saucy even then.

Here's another one from my earlier files that I'll share before I turn it over to you.

Did you know I have a little brother? No? Neither did my mom. Neither did anyone else. Except my first-grade teacher. Supposedly, he was almost run over by a car, but I pushed him out of the way. Aren't I an amazing older sister? Of course I am!

Were my heroic efforts documented in the town newspaper for all to read and then everyone adored me? No. You know why? Because there's no little brother. Now, why would my teacher make up such a story? She didn't. I did. Some people have imaginary friends. I had imaginary siblings.

And then my mom found out. And she was displeased--especially when my teacher wanted to know if her "other child also had diabetes." And it wasn't good.

How did I forget the story of MY FIRST KISS?!? It was so sweet. I changed schools in the middle of kindergarten for a semester. On my first day, one of the cutest boys in the class introduced himself to me by kissing me on the cheek.

You know what I did in response? I SLAPPED THE SNOT OUT OF HIM. And then I told on him. And then he got in trouble. And I was happy.

I'm sure there's a plethora (actually I know there is) of other bizarre, farfetched and downright mischievous tales from my school files, but I want to give you the opportunity to share. If you have a great story from your's or your kiddo's career, share it below! It doesn't even have to be great. You don't even have to spell it right.

Monday, August 19, 2013

How I Became the Whiz Kid

I like to think I'm reasonably smart. After all, I can read and spell my name reasonably well. So it stands to reason that those qualities alone would certify me as a whiz kid. Right?

I wish. 

Long ago and far away, when I was in eighth grade--so 13 years old--we had a very exciting event in our small town. Our high school football team made it to the regional playoffs. I grew up in a small town in Texas, so you can imagine. Football is a religion and playoffs are Heaven itself. Either way, the town was abuzz and we weren't missing this game come hell or high water. 

I'm not going to go into specifics of the game--not because it wasn't exciting (even though it wasn't), but because we lost, and I don't want to have to relive it. 

Nor do I want to relive what happened next. However, because everyone who's heard this story thinks it's pretty funny--only because it didn't happen to them--I've decided to print it here for posterity. You're welcome.

Anyway, we had about a 45-minute car ride home, so we had to keep ourselves entertained. We did so by playing Make Me Laugh. The game is exactly what it sounds like. At one point, very abruptly, I decided I didn't want to play anymore. I tried to play it off as in I thought the game was boring and wanted to move on, but my friends weren't having it. They demanded to know why I didn't want to play. However, it didn't take very long for them to figure it out. 

What did they do? What every good friend does--worked harder to make me laugh. It didn't take them very long before what was on the inside of my body--in my bladder--exploded to the outside. I was drenched, and so was the back of the van we were sitting in. I...was...mortified. 

Of course we had to tell the parents of the van, even though I was crying and begging them not to. And of course, I didn't have an extra pair of underwear. Who, at 13, thinks to bring extra underwear because they pee their pants?!? Certainly not this kid. 

Fortunately, someone did have extras. I'm not sure what's more disturbing here: that I, as a teenager, had a major toileting accident, or that someone else in the car had extras because of their own (possibly?) toileting issues and I was about to be wearing them. 

Regardless, we pulled over to the nearest gas station to remedy the situation. I think my friends felt bad, because they shuffled with me, one in front, one behind in order to get to the bathroom with as much dignity as was possible in a situation such as peeing your pants between the ages of six and 60.  I changed, used the restroom for good measure, and off we went. Life was good. 

Or so I thought. About ten minutes into our journey, I felt a familiar sensation. I won't waste time building it up: I had to pee again. Yep. So I informed everyone in the van that I needed to do business again, and we saved another embarrassing situation. 

Again--I wish. My "voice of reason" prevailed and I decided that, by God, I would make it home to the comfort of my own clean bathroom. So I kept quiet. 

My voice of reason crapped out. The above scenario played out again. Tell me that this isn't weird: another change of clothes and underwear were produced that weren't mine or came from my mom. How many accidents were these people planning? Yuck. Regardless, beggars couldn't be choosers at this point. So we repeated the Pee Pants Shuffle, I used the restroom, changed clothes, and off we went. 

To make an already long story short(er), I'm going to kind of gloss over the fact that there was, in fact, a third incident about five or ten miles later. I was out of luck on clothes this time. This may have actually been a good thing, because I'm not sure what I would've thought if I knew there had been anticipation of three or more accidents in the same car on a given period. And I should probably tell you I was restricted from liquids at this point. 

If you think I ever lived that down, you would be wrong. In fact, I had a similar incident later on that year where I required two changes of clothes, but one was only because I fell in knee-deep mud  while rock-hunting and running from snakes on a science field trip. My senior yearbook is even inscribed with "Whiz Kid." But that's only because I'm super-smart. I know that because, now, I always have access to extra underwear.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Because I Can

I'm going to go ahead and give you fair warning: this one will be a little sappy, but it truly comes from the heart and I wanted to share.

I have been at Texas Lions Camp--a free diabetes camp for children located in the Texas Hill Country--for the last five days. I will be here another nine days. Camp brings out a wide range of feelings from "I don't know how you do that, "that sounds exhausting," to "camp is the best thing ever!" My response--in order--is this: "because I can," "it is hard," and "I agree--camp is the best thing ever!" 

For a lot of children, camp--of any kind--is a turning point. Because I'm at a diabetes camp, that's where my focus is going to be. And for me, diabetes camp certainly was a turning point. 

As many of you know, I was diagnosed with diabetes at the young age of 17 months old. I don't remember NOT having diabetes. I DO remember running and hiding when it was shot time, or refusing to eat--because I could. My poor mother will probably die early due to my diabetical hijinks. Sorry, Mom. you?

Anyway, I went to my very first diabetes camp--the one I happen to be at this week, by the way--in 1992. I was ten years old, and I had never given myself a shot. I wanted to learn to do that so I could finally go to the sleepovers I kept being invited to. That was my final hurdle to freedom. I wasn't quite ready on Day 1, but on Day 2? I was gangbusters. I woke up with a mission: nobody was going to give me that breakfast shot but ME. And you know what? I did. Because I could. In one split second, my life changed and I was awarded privileges most ten-year-olds take for granted.

I've watched that happen over the course of this week. I've watched kiddos do things they never thought they were capable of, and I've watched lives be transformed. Because they could. Because they did. 

Just because you grow up doesn't mean the victories stop. In fact, they become that much sweeter (pardon the pun). I'm not going to lie when I say I get nervous about impending lab results or eye exams, but when they come back and I realize I continue to put diabetes in its place, then I'm the first one to jump around my room like a banshee. Because I can. Because I did. 

I'd also like to be the first to point out that I can probably say these things because of a lot of luck, but I'd like to think there was a fair amount of hard work on the part of a lot of people that made that happen. I say that because I know a lot of people who haven't been as fortunate that have also worked really hard. I can't tell you why things worked out differently for them, but they didn't and I don't think it should be assumed it's because they did less work than I did. 

To get back to my point, though: I'll be real honest when I say that there are times diabetes sucks. It just does. Even the best jobs in the world have their days. However, I don't think this was all for naught. I truly believe that God picked me to be diagnosed for a reason. He knew I could handle it and wanted to use me to do great things with it. Things like being an educator, or going to camp and helping these kids realize what great potential they have. How much they really are "like everybody else." Do I wish maybe God would've chosen something for me based on my impeccable sense of style? It would've bed nice, but I think the things He chose for me are pretty great. To get to see these kids achieve and overcome is probably one of the highest honors I could accomplish. 

To those parents of the kids I've worked with this week: I thank you for the opportunity to get to be part of their learning and fun. I also thank you for reminding me to keep going forward. Today, I set a new goal for myself: I want to be the first Joslin Medal for 100 Years of Successful living with diabetes (hey--I'm only 70 years away!). Because I could. Because I can. Because I will.