Wallace Stevens, an American poet, wrote complex verse that uses precisely abstract language to scuttle between imagination and reality. Check out his poem, “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird” and “The Snowman.”
We’re three days into the semester, so I’m back in the classroom and Henry is in preschool. There are many moments where my thoughts zoom from reality to imagination before and after I look at Henry’s blood sugar on my Dexcom Follow App. I know he is being well cared for, but there’s always the reality of having type 1 diabetes. Here’s the thing: if you have type 1 diabetes, this means within a 24 hour period it will be difficult, and unlikely, to keep a blood sugar between 90-180. And if a blood sugar happens to remain within the 90-180 range, it is a good moment, but it’s only a moment before the insulin keeps working after the carb is digested, or an emotion elevates a blood sugar, or a correctly counted carb misaligns with correctly dosed insulin and the number soars.
If you’re not familiar with type 1 diabetes, here’s a quick primer. A generally safe blood glucose range (for the pediatric person with diabetes) is 90-200. Below 80 is considered “low” or hypoglycemic, and requires immediate treatment because the immediate consequences are seizure, unconsciousness, and worst of all, death. Above 240, or “high,” hyperglycemia, could result in ketones, and in the short term result in DKA or Diabetic Ketoacidosis, which (similar to hypoglycemia), could result in a coma and death. In the long term, blood sugars above 150 could result in complications to the eyes, kidneys, heart, brain, and feet.
So, a caregiver or person with diabetes is always walking this impossible tightrope of insulin, carbs, emotions; trading now for later. There’s plenty of room to imagine, second guess, or worry.
Here’s thirteen ways of looking at Dexcom Share data, with apologies to Wallace Stevens. The images come from one 24 hour period.
1. Among too many highs from lows.
2. A lesson about banana muffins,
of a mind to never make these again.
3. Pantomime of pancreas is a
4. The number is not one, but
frighteningly close. Mother + child
+ pump + glucose tabs = not pancreas
5. The moment before a gut punch
or just after.
6. The line traced in line,
the indecipherable cause.
7. What do you imagine?
8. Lucid, inescapable numbers?
9. Illusion of perspective—
flown, offline, out of sight?
10. Euphony, at a line,
a bird to horizon.
11. Not mostly, but once,
a fear usually pierces.
Even when it’s mistook.
12. The insulin or sugar is moving.
13. It was all night into morning.
It was no sleep into half-sleep.