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October 21, 2016
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How I Numbed His Arm (And Survived)

It's interesting how we assume certain roles in the management of our children's diabetes.

For instance, I have become a strict uncompromising carb Nazi, whereas my wife has become the authority on counting all things from a plate of pasta to a bowl of ice cream with amazing accuracy.

She is also the person Charlie turns to when I turn down a request for a particular high-carby snack.

The Dexcom receiver is a bit more of my specialty whereas site changes are completely Susanne's domain.

I order supplies and deal with shipping and insurance issues and Susanne deals with the school nurse and arranging 504 meetings.

Susanne changes lancets daily and cleans out blood-stained alcohol wipes and used test strips from Charlie’s testing kit.

If something weird was happening with the Dexcom, Susanne would say, "See your father."

If Charlie’s tape started peeling off, I'd say, "See your mother."

We each have our responsibilities and it works for us.

Inserting the CGM is really the only thing we do completely together.

We both search for a good location on the fleshy side of Charlie’s arm and we agree on a spot to apply the numbing cream.

After about 40 minutes, I clean the transmitter with an alcohol wipe while Susanne cleans off Charlie’s arm and carefully lines up the inserter device with the discolored target area. I then remove the plastic safety piece, gently pinch Charlie’s skin and plunge the introducer needle into his skin and then quickly out.

By the way, “introducer needle” might not be the most apt name. It makes it appear so polite.

“Hello, old chap. Allow me to introduce myself. I’m the harpoon-like needle that is about to violently pierce your skin.”

I then snap the transmitter into place and Susanne gets crackin’ on the tape. Bing. Bam. Boom. We are like a finely tuned machine.

We are smoove like buttah.

But then …


“OK, Suze!” I yelled into the living room. “It’s time!”

She continued vacuuming the rug.

“His arm is ready!” I called a little louder in case she didn’t hear me.

“You can do it,” Susanne said nonchalantly, pushing the vacuum cleaner around a chair in the corner of the room.

“I can do it?” I thought to myself. Me??? By myself??? Alone??? Is she serious???

“But we always do it together!” I said nervously and loudly over the hum of the vacuum cleaner.

“What do you need me for?” she asked.

“I don’t know,” I said. “For like emotional support and stuff.”

I stared long at the tube of numbing cream in my hand and shuffled away from Susanne. The soaring classical crescendo of O Fortuna reached a fevered pitch in my head. Sweat poured from my forehead. My hands were shaking.

I can do this.

I can do this.

I CAN do this.






What happened next was nothing short of remarkable and the human race may never witness such an act of valor in the face of desperate adversity.

I took a blob of cream and plopped it on his arm.

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