Off the Dial

Body Piercings

Two year old Benny has started checking his own blood sugar. Every parent is proud of their kids’ milestones, I just didn’t expect my son’s to include piercing his own skin. At least not before he became a teenager.

Blood sugar testing is one of the main tools in treating Juvenile Diabetes. Briefly, you use a automatic lancing device – it looks like a pen and has a small needle inside – to poke a hole in the skin. Usually, you’ll stick the finger tip, but some newer models can test the palm, arms or other areas. Touch the drop of blood to a test strip and the monitor gives you the blood sugar number. The number tells you what you need to do next – too low and the child needs some form of sugar, fast. Too high and more insulin is needed (this is a very rough explanation). We do this test at least six times a day.

Benny has decided he can do this himself. He unzips the case, loads the test strip, puts the pen next to his finger and presses the button. Of course, since he’s two it doesn’t go very smoothly but we do get it done and I like that he’s enthusiastically involved in something so important to his care.

The insulin injections? Not so much.

Benny gets 4 to 5 shots every day. It’s a small needle but it’s still no fun. You don’t need to any special medical training to give these shots – they just go right under the skin and you usually give them in the back of the arm, the back upper thigh or in the tush.

We were pleasantly surprised how agreeable Benny was to the shots for the first few weeks, but that’s over now. The books tell you to give the child a choice of sites, to give him some control. Yeah right. Benny’s choice is always, “No.” Or he lets me rub the alcohol wipe on the site then says, “all done!” and runs away. For the past week or so I’ve had to actually hold him down to give him the shots. Luckily, I’ve gotten good enough at it that it doesn’t take very long. It doesn’t seem to hurt much; he doesn’t cry or act upset after the shots. In fact, he usually jumps up and laughs, gives me a kiss and goes back to whatever he’s been doing. It’s the moments before the shots that are giving us fits.

Listen, I know this could be a lot worse. I’m not looking for pity. I just want to find ways to keep a sense of humor and bring Benny up with one as well. I don’t think I’m going to have to work very hard on him for that – he immediately realized he could gross out his big sister by showing her the blood on his finger after the sugar check. Then, he learned that if he kept squeezing his finger, he could “finger-paint” on my walls!


Lunch with Al

When you work with Al Gardner, you get asked two questions again and again. Is he really that optimistic? Yep. Does he really eat that much? Yes, again and it is truly something to behold.

The Charlotte’s Morning News crew had lunch together yesterday, at 131 Main in Huntersville. I love eating with Al because they give him a menu and he says, “Why, yes, thanks.”

We had something like four appetizers and three desserts. Al was eating light so he only had a club sandwich. Only. It just about draped over the plate it was so big. And fries. And half my lunch. I kid you not. (I had the flounder and Jim, Charles, Chris and Larry all got the ribs. They polished theirs off before Al could take a bite.)

A while back we all went to the Palm and had these huge, five pound lobsters. We’ve all given up when Al starts asking about the parts you just don’t eat. (Quite educational, actually. I never knew the green stuff is called the tomalley and it’s the lobster’s digestive system. It’s still gross). Jim Szoke got a picture of Al in his lobster bib, but we can’t get it out of his phone.

Took Al to Rotelli, the restaurant my husband and I own. He ate almost an entire pizza, and garlic rolls and soup and, I think, a philly steak sandwich.

He’s found the perfect producer in our Charles Jenkin. Charles has his weekend cooking show on WBT and the two of them linger over food news and gaze longingly at restaurant feature spreads. When the network morning shows do their cooking segments at 8:45 each morning, you’d think our studio tv’s were turned to the Playboy channel.

Here’s the rub – with all that eating you’d think Al was a prime candidate for LA Weight Loss. Not so.. he does work out quite a bit, but I think he’s just one of those guys with a gift of a good metabolism. He says his two brothers are the same way. One day we’ll find they hold the key to some scientific weight loss breakthrough. In the mean time, we stand in awe (and out of the way!) of Al’s appetite.

Carbs R Us

Thank you, Dr. Atkins. Yeah, I know most of you aren’t eating heaps of bacon anymore, but the popularity of the Atkins diet has changed the way the big food companies think about carbs. Knowing about carbohydrates is crucial for people with diabetes; it’s the food group that has the biggest impact on blood sugar. Simply put, we base our son’s insulin dose on how many carbohydrates he’s eaten. It’s much easier to figure that out now that every packaged food out there has a clear FDA approved label with the carb count right on it.

Yes, we try to eat lots of fruits, veggies and proteins (and thankfully my kids will) but if we want a packaged snack, like goldfish crackers or pretzels, at least we know what we’re getting. Our doctor also gave us a great book – The Calorie King Fat & Carbohydrate Counter – that lists just about every food you can think of, including restaurant food.

When we first got Benny’s diagnosis, we made what I imagine is a common mistake. We tried to feed him only low-carb foods. You see, every time he has more than 15 carbs, we have to give him a shot. Who wants to stick their kid more than they absolutely have to? So we switched from his normal waffle or cereal breakfast to eggs & sausage. We tried teeny portions of pasta and served big slabs of protein. My husband, Slade, spent two hours in Harris Teeter looking for low-carb snacks (olives? pork rind?).

Only one problem: Benny’s two. He’s not exactly into the whole low-carb thing. And we didn’t like the idea of turning our family’s diet upside down. My daughter, Lea, is 5 and both kids enjoy pretty good diets for their ages. Couscous is a favorite, they both love chicken, beef and fish, they’ll eat loads of Italian food (I’ll tell you about our restaurant, Rotelli, another time!). I’d love for my daughter to eat more veggies, but Benny will munch on broccoli, peas or even cauliflower. I won’t lie – they also love sweet-tarts, fruit roll ups (what is that? colored plastic?), and my daughter could eat pounds of chocolate. But we try.

Anyway, we decided to keep to our regular way of eating and just try to keep snacks to less than 15 carbs – that way he doesn’t need an extra shot. Sure, there are exceptions. On his birthday, he had a nice big piece of cake in the middle of the afternoon and sometimes he just wants to eat more than usual. The last thing I want is a hungry toddler; kids need calories and healthy fats to grow. (In fact, a new study shows diabetic toddlers may not be getting enough carbs & calories to keep up with their growth. More in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association)

Considering one of Benny’s first words was “fruit snack,” I think we’re doing okay.


The Webcam Never Blinks

I came back from a four day weekend to find someone new in our studio. New guy doesn’t say much, but he won’t stop looking at us. It’s a webcam hanging from the ceiling in our studio. I have mixed feelings – I got out of television more than four years ago and I love radio. Don’t have to pile on the makeup or breathe in the hairspray fumes. Will that change with the webcam there? Check it out at