Monday, June 29, 2015

little girl, big needles

There was a night the week we got home from the hospital that Joey had to hold her down.

All three of us were on the floor of our foyer right next to the skinny wooden table with the flowers carved along the side.

My dad had bought that table for me on a trip we took to San Francisco.  I remember it showing up on my front doorstep 12 years ago.  I excitedly tore into the box only to find it in pieces - completely broken apart, beyond repair.  It was like someone had dropped it off the back of the truck and then run over it.  It would never work for holding the lamp and framed pictures I planned to set on top of it, and so I returned the broken table.  They sent me a new one two weeks later - one that was in one piece, beautiful and strong and capable of holding things.

That night, on the floor, she was crying and screaming at the top of her little 5 year old lungs -
no, no, no!  please, no!
I was crying too, holding the needle in my hand.
He held her still long enough for me to shoot the insulin into the back of her arm and hold it -
     1, 2, 3, 4, 5...and done.
I handed the needle to him and scooped her up onto my lap - both of us still crying but slower, quieter now.  She buried her head in my shoulder.
I never planned on having to stick needles into my little girl's arms 4, 5, sometimes 6 times a day.  If you had asked me two years ago if I would be comfortable doing something like that I would have said - absolutely not.

And yet here we are 20 months later and it is as routine as brushing our teeth.
Peel the paper off the needle.
Screw it onto the top of the insulin pen.
Remove the big plastic top and then the tiny green one.
Test the needle to make sure it's working.
Do the math in your head - blood glucose correction plus carbohydrate intake.
Dial in the right amount of insulin.
Pinch the back of her arm.
Stick the needle in.
Count to five.
Pull it out.
Dispose of the needle in a sharps container.

She asked me that night how much longer we would have to do the shots.  How do you explain to a five year old that she would never get a break?  How do you tell her that the carefree child life she lived just days before was over and the need for insulin injections would never end?

We've used over 3000 needles since Lucy was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes in October of 2013.

When you've done something that many times, you get the hang of it.
But I still wish I didn't have to do it.

Every night at bedtime, as I am turning out her light, she says the same thing -
Come and check on me.
If I'm low give me something yummy.

And every night I do.  I don't need the reminder.  I never forget.

A few hours later before I turn out my own light I creep in with her meter and pull her small hand out from under the covers and pick a finger to prick.  If the numbers are good I cover her back up and kiss her one last time.  If they are too high, I reach for another needle.  If they are too low, I wake her up and she gets something yummy.

I am not a creature of habit.
I rarely do the same thing the same way twice.
I am forgetful.  I lose my keys on a weekly basis and I honestly can not be counted on to brush my own teeth every night and morning.
I am messy, not meticulous.
I see the big picture, but miss the details.

A daughter with diabetes has required me
to be something I am not
and to do things I do not feel capable of doing
and to overcome emotions I did not want to feel
and so for that I have had to
and grow
and depend on a power greater than myself.

That night we spent crying on the cold, hard floor I felt like that table that had been delivered in pieces.
I was in pieces.
Broken apart.
Not fit to do the job I needed to do.
Unable to hold myself up, much less anything else.
I felt like I had been dropped off the back of a truck and run over.

Can you relate?

There were moments when I wondered -
Why God?
Why would you give this child to me?  Why would you put me in charge of this?
You know how you created me.  You know how difficult this will be for me.  You know there are other people who would be able to do a better job.  What if I can't be all she needs me to be?

But something happens when you have used up all of yourself and it's not enough.
You find out there is something besides self that will sustain you.
And so I began to sense God's response to me -
Yes, I know.
It is difficult for you.
Others could probably do it more easily.
You feel weak and inadequate and 
that. is. good.
because at the end of your own strength is where you will find mine.

Instead of me being rendered useless,
instead of me being returned and replaced,
I was transformed,
I was changed;
not because of something I did, but because of something I could not do.

I'm not sure why it is that we wait until we have tried every little trick up our own sleeve and it doesn't work before we draw from a deeper well.

Circumstances require us to change, but something in our souls - not ourselves - makes that change possible.

When you see yourself become something you never thought you could become it is evidence that there is more to yourself then - well, yourself.  That is a precious, holy, and sacred thing.

There is no significant thing that I have done or will do that was not sourced from somewhere deep in my soul.  And sometimes - actually, a lot of times - those depths aren't reached by easy everyday choices.  They are reached by difficult, not-what-I-signed-up-for, circumstance.

Tomorrow Lucy starts her insulin pump.  Instead of giving her multiple injections from a small needle every day we will insert a port under her skin every three days using a big needle.
We will wake up early tomorrow morning and drive to the endocrinologist office in Greenville.  They will help us to begin.
And then we will go back home with this child who has an autoimmune disease that will kill her if untreated
and this device that is new and foreign to us
and these instructions that seem complex and overwhelming
and we will be okay.
And that will not be because of anything I am or anything I am capable of doing.  That will be because my weakness has given way to a greater strength.  And so has hers.

...I was given the gift of a handicap to keep me in constant touch with my limitations.  No danger then of walking around high and mighty! At first I didn’t think of it as a gift, and begged God to remove it. Three times I did that, and then he told me,
My grace is enough; it’s all you need.
My strength comes into its own in your weakness.
Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ’s strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size—abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! 
And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become.