Embracing Life & the Child with the Disease

The Tantrum I Tolerated

Just Ryan

I MUST preface this post by explaining to any of you who are NOT OmniPod users that we LOVE the OmniPod.  Would not trade it for anything.  ANYTHING!!  And we have had good success with OmniPod as well.  In November of last year, before we started pumping, Ryan’s A1c was 8.6.  I was devastated. All that work, sleepless nights and focus and that’s what I get to show for my diligence?  Well, we started pumping on December 13 (if my memory serves me correctly).  Since then, Ryan’s A1cs:  Feb 6.7, May 7.4, July 6.6.  We’ve had a good run.  We have had very few pod alarms (the pod is constantly doing a series of checks and if something doesn’t check correctly, it alarms and we have to do a pod change).  In a three-month period, I say we average about 1 per shipment.  He does knock it off every now and then, but he’s a boy.  It’s to be expected.  I have noticed that his back is the worst for that and his belly is best by far.  But with all the good we have experienced, the most important part is . . . Ryan LOVES it.

Well, like all things man-made, you are going to hit some bumps in the road.  When a pod alarms, it’s annoying.  Never really happens at a convenient time.  Murphy’s Law of Diabetes.  But we have never been unprepared.  And Ryan gets a little annoyed at it and often rolls his eyes and says something like, “I’m beeping!”

But we had the day of all bad days a few weeks back.  And boy was it a doozie.

Now, for those of you who are going to slam the OmniPod, please remember the focus of this post is my BOY not the POD.  And I share not to air out dirty laundry about our PUMP OF CHOICE but to show you how we deal with d.

It was Saturday morning with no plans.  The four of us at home.  Jason was working.  Ryan heard the pod sound off:  “beep – beeeeeeeeep – beep – beep,” simply notifying us that the pod was going to expire in an hour, we’d worn it the full three days and we only had about 24 units of insulin left in it.  I told him to grab a pod and come in the kitchen to go ahead a change it now.

So off to work going through the somewhat mindless process by now.  Deactivate old pod.  Filling the new one with insulin.  Priming.  Attach pod with adhesive.  Give Ryan the pdm. Pinch up and slightly press down ready for the automatic needle/cannula insertion. Ryan presses START.  Click 1, click 2, click 3. SNAP!  Needle in and out in a fraction of a second.  Check the window to see if cannula looks good.  And he’s on his way.  Process takes five to ten minutes depending on the focus of both Ryan and me.

An hour and a half later, softly from the other room, I hear a faint but constant “BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP” that got distinctively louder as Ryan walked closer to me.  He was frustrated, eyes rolling and somewhat heavy feet walking.  I felt sad for him.  It means time taken away from playing, removing new adhesive from the pod which will hurt a little more than normal because it’s new and another poke to insert the new cannula.

So off again with the process I mentioned above, but with a distinct difference.  When we got to the priming mode, about half way through, we heard “BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP”.  The pod was bad from the get-go.  So we had to “discard” and start the process over.

Huffing and puffing and now stomping like he did when he left the room, Ryan entered with a new pod.  He is now visibly irritated, body language and facial expressions in perfect sync with the sounds coming from his small frame.  And because he is so obviously struggling, I decided to hold it together and not show my frustration to egg him on.

We successfully filled, primed and attached the new pod with no issue.  And he stomped off to skype with my nieces with the other two boys in the computer room.

I picked up the phone to call OmniPod and report our two back to back pod alarms.  OmniPod will replace every pod for free that results in an alarm confirming a pod failure.  The unfortunate part is the insulin loss.  I know they tell you not to draw it out, but we have before.  But I decided not to do it this time, mainly because of Ryan’s frustration, particularly with the second one, and I was just in a hurry to do it as quickly as possible.  But the employee on the other end of the phone was very sympathetic and apologized and said the pods would ship replacements out with our next order.

I put the phone down and was cleaning up the kitchen about 30 minutes later when this is what I heard – AGAIN –  “BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP”

Are you stinkin’ kidding me?!?!?!  Another pod alarm!!!  My shoulders slouched, my head dropped, my arms fell dangling at my sides simultaneously.  And before I could say a word, my eyes refocused on my seven-year-old sweet boy who had just reached his breaking point.

Phases like “You have got to be kidding me” and “No freaking way” spewed from his lips uncontrollably.  He by passed the kitchen where I was standing waiting to embrace my angry boy and calm him and went straight to the living room between the sofa and the television and threw his body on the floor, hands fisted, beating the carpet, kicking his feet on the ground, rolling on the floor still muttering aggravated phrases in a throat-like grovel of a voice through his gritted teeth.

And I did nothing.  Just let him go and get it out.

And just when I thought it was over, he jumped up off the floor, dove on the sofa, face down on one of the over-stuffed pillowed arms, with body as stiff as a board, so stiff his feet were off the cushion and toes were pointed like a ballet dancer.  And he let out a long, angry, muffled fit of a scream.

At that point I opened the kitchen drawer where I remembered there was an extra pod and again began filling it with insulin.

When he was finished, in my peripheral vision, I saw that boy jump up to a sitting position and look at me in silence, as if he was waiting for me to scold and/or punish him for his tirade.  It was then that I noticed that the pod was still beeping, just as fiercely and consistently as it was before the episode.  For a moment, that was the only sound in the room.  Then I looked at him and I said, “Where do you want to put the pod, we took it off your belly, put one on your back, then one on your arm.  So this time, you get to choose.”  He, in a tone that was obvious he had not yet overcome his rage, said, “I don’t know where I want to put it!”  And walked out of the room into where the boys were still skyping with my nieces.

I just stood there for about a minute and did not move.  As I suspected he would, he returned, completely calm, sweeping his hair out of his eyes with a single fluid motion and said, “Let’s put it on my other arm and tape it up.”

And that’s exactly what we did.  And we did it without discussion at all.  Just words that were necessary for the process.  And then he returned to skyping.

I am not the mom that has EVER tolerated a fit or tantrum.  I’m a stern disciplinarian.  I spank.  I punish.  I raise my voice.  And they all know there are limits and they love to drive me to that line all the time.

But no discipline or scolding this time.  Not for this fit. It was not just justified, but it was necessary.  He needed to get it out.  He needed to know it was okay to get it out.  Shoot – he was doing exactly what I wanted to do.  He felt and acted out precisely how I was feeling.

And he got it out.  He came around on his own.  No instruction from this momma.  No, “we don’t need to act like that.”  He had to have a release.  Diabetes is hard.  It’s often no fun (can’t really think of a time when it is actually fun).  But to hold that emotion in could hurt him in the long-term.  I want him to have freedom to share, to cry, to hurt, to be frustrated, to have a fit every now and then.  It’s merited.  And he needs to feel safe to do it.

When some time had passed, I loved on him.  I told him I was sorry for the yucky day we were having with d.  He verbally and calmly shared how frustrated and angry he was.  And we cuddled on the couch and watched tv for a bit.

It’s hard to watch your child go through, live through, work through some of those emotions.  I am teary now just reliving it.  I cried in the bathroom alone that day when I could steal a few moments alone.

And then I was proud.  Proud of his resilience.  Proud of his resolve.  Proud he got angry, had the fit and came around on his own.

And I learned from him that day:  Have the fit, live in the emotion of the moment and then, let it go.

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Comments on: "The Tantrum I Tolerated" (4)

  1. Felt your heart’s cry while reading this. Thanks for the reminder of how hard this is on Ryan and how courageous he has been through this teaching, moldable time. Your character is reflected in seeing this as the Lord sees us, through His eyes, we often go kicking and screaming… It’s part of the Plan; His mercies for us new every morning<3

  2. No words come…just pride ❤

  3. I’m totally sobbing. You’re an awesome mama and I agree sometimes they need to release that stress.

    We had a day where we had to do 5 site changes. Totally get it. ((Hugs!))

  4. The part on the couch really got to me. I could feel his frustrations. I think it is sooooo incredibly important to accept all of our children’s emotions and to show them that sometimes we get sad/angry/frustrated too. It lets them know that it is OK. It is OK to have these feelings…to express them…and then to move on. Ryan (and you) handled this like a ROCK STAR. Fist bump him from his Vermont BUDDIES. xo

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