Off the Dial

Talking About It

This weekend, like so many parents, Slade and I struggled with how to talk to our children about the unthinkable tragedy in Sandy Hook. We agreed right away that we wanted to have some sort of conversation with our son and daughter before they went back to school.

But how to explain something that makes no sense?

We decided to keep it very simple. We talked to Lea first, alone. She’s 11 and in 6th> grade, which is middle school in our town. We told her the facts and explained how unlikely it is that it would ever happen here.

Lea brought up the times her schools have been on lockdown. Once they thought a bank robber might be nearby and another time a man with a gun was seen in the woods. He turned out to be a hunter. After that and a few eye-rolls (“I know where Connecticut is, Mom”) she seemed to be doing okay.

Benny will be 8 later this month and his reaction was heart-breaking. “It’s so sad that it’s children because they didn’t have a chance to live a full life.”

We talked about how something was wrong with the man’s brain, which led us to a discussion about mental illness. I tried to tell them the difference between an illness like depression and the much more severe problems the shooter must have had. This is such tricky territory; I really hope I did a decent job.

(Usually when I explain a disability, I bring it back to us: “She has an oxygen tank because her lungs don’t work so well. Just like you wear an insulin pump because your pancreas is kaput and Lea wears glasses because her eyes aren’t perfect.” But that didn’t seem to be appropriate here.)

We talked about what their schools might do this week and whether there might be drills. Lea wondered if there was a real emergency would the police ever bring them to a different school or a safer place? How would we find her?

We told them that’s not something they ever have to worry about. We will always look for them and we will always find them. I must have been adamant about that part because it was the only thing that made Lea emotional. Big hugs. At bedtime, Benny had more questions. “What did the shooter look like?” “I wish it had only been one child (pause) no, zero children.” “I hope that never happens to me and my school.” “I know why he shot himself. His brain was all messed up, but it was working just enough to know he did something really bad.”

We talked about how Benny’s school day would probably be as usual. I doubt they’re going to spend a lot of time on this for second graders. But I said his teachers might want to hug their students a little bit more today.

I told him, hug them back.

Control

Good BG control came up recently when I spoke to a few parents considing an insulin pump for their child with diabetes. I love the pump (we have the Animas One Touch Ping). Benny’s been using his for more than five years and it allows flexibility and precise dosing. No shots is a nice bonus, but it’s the targeted control that I really love.  The pump is just a machine, though,  connected to the body by what’s basically a band-aid with a stick. Stuff happens. Things go wrong.

Luckily those problems are few and far between, but we had a doozy this week. Benny had a weird high at school. 300 at 3pm. 380 at 3:30. The dose was 7 units (which is big for him) and they were nervous about the possiblity of a low on the school bus home, so I picked him up. Of course, he was starving and wanted to eat. That’s tough when he’s so high; you really just want them to drink water and run around until the BG gets better. But I hate to tell my hungry 8-year old he can’t have dinner, so we ate. And boy did he eat! I took that as a good sign; the giant insulin bolus seemed to be doing its job.

We changed the inset right after dinner and slammed another 8 units to cover the high BG and the food. Still, an hour later we got the dreaded HIGH read-out. That means it’s over 500, so high the meter busts out all-caps to yell at you instead of showing a real number. Hate that.

Benny asked whether we should call the doctor, but I told him we could handle it.  I said we’d check again in a half hour and if he wasn’t coming down we’d make some decisions. That would include whether to give him a shot but, since I didn’t feel like starting a panic at bedtime, I kept that to myself.

At 9:15 he was down to 280. Great news, but of course, now we were braced for the low. We’d given the kid enough insulin to bring down a small elephant, so we expected him to crash at some point overnight. We got lucky, though. At 11pm he was around 150 and at 1:30 he was 95. I liked that 95, but I didn’t trust it to stay, so I gave him a 15 carb juice box. Benny woke up feeilng good and with a normal BG. We were pretty tired, but grateful for a safe night and a working inset.

These are the nights I think of when people ask me if we’ve got Benny’s diabetes under control.  Sometimes I educate, sometimes I just say yes.  “Under control” with diabetes doesn’t mean perfect BG’s, sunshine and sugar-free lollipops.  It means rolling with the punches, dealing with what’s in front of you and sometimes laughing when you want to cry. So yeah, we’ve got control.

Leaving

It’s true. I’m leaving WBT. December 14th will be my last day.

I wasn’t fired and, as of this writing, I haven’t been replaced. This was my choice. I don’t have a new job; this is either the dumbest or the bravest thing I’ve every done. Maybe it’s both.

There are a few reasons for this move. Here’s the main one:

See that wake up call in the upper left hand corner? I’ve had an alarm clock set to 3am for 13 out of the last 16 years. That’s enough.  But even though I know this is the right thing to do for me and for my family, that doesn’t mean it’s easy.

Broadcasting is all I ever wanted to do.  I started working professionally before I graduated from college and I haven’t taken a break since. Never been fired, never sat out a contract and never had more than two weeks in between jobs. I’m proud of that.

I may keep working in broadcasting, but I’m open to new possibilities. If you’ve read this blog regularly, you know I love to write,  I get excited about community and charity events and I’m knee-deep in social media.

Having said that… please keep in touch. Follow me on Twitter, like me on Facebook and I hope you keep listening to WBT.  It’s been a wonderful privilege to be a small part of the history of that heritage station. Anyone who works in this industry will tell you that 10 years in one job at one place is a lifetime in radio years.

I’m still looking to work, so keep me in mind if you’re hiring.  Just please, no early morning wake up calls. I’d like to sleep late for a while. Right now, 6am sounds great!