Thursday, September 25, 2014

Letters from Dad (Giving of Yourself)

    I have one thing in my life that I enjoy doing so much, that is giving to others. I gave to your mother. I gave to your brothers and sisters, your grandparents and I give to you. This is not the type of giving that I am talking about however. You are always going to be a priory in my life and I am sure that you will get more of my giving than anyone else in my life but I want to make sure that you understand the joy of giving to others. I want you to understand that small acts of kindness pay back more than you realize. It might take years before you see some of the things where you changed someone's life. Those days will come and the joy inside will flood your soul.

    Before I met your mother I coached hockey. It was something that I loved doing so very much. It gave me friends and relationships with the kids that I coached. I still see some of them today and they still come by and say hi or thanks. I coached hockey because your older brother wanted to play hockey. I had never even ice skated before all of this. I learned to skate and then I taught your older brother to skate. He started playing hockey when he was five. When he turned 12 he went to live with his mother. It was one of the darkest times in my life. I kept coaching hockey because I didn't want to miss him so much. At first it didn't help me forget about your brother. In fact it only made me miss him more. There was a day toward the end of the first season that I had one of the kids I had been coaching all year skate up to me during the game and asked "did you see that coach? I did exactly what you told me to do and it worked." That was the first time when hockey became mine and not a memory of me and your brother. It was that moment that made coaching something that I loved to do without the guilt of missing your brother. I got to coach for eight wonderful years. I always missed coaching but family came first. When I had to quit I got a letter in the mail. It was handwritten by one of the kids that I had coached. He told me that I had changed his life, that he appreciated everything I had tough him and he hoped that he would play good enough that I would be proud of him. He told me that he hoped that someday I could coach again and that he would get to play for me again. Getting that letter made me cry. I sure hope he knows I would have been proud of him just for loving the game of hockey and being a a good person.  Just receiving that letter in the mail let me know that he got what I was teaching. I hope to get you into hockey soon so we can have the wonderful memories too. Coaching was more about the kids and experiences, teaching them to love the game and being a good person than winning games. I will count my coaching experience a success if just one student goes on to give back and to love the game enough to give it to one kid. If they teach that kid to love themselves first and respect others. If they teach that win or lose your friends are the most import part of hockey.

    I love to work for Habitat for Humanity too. I love learning about the families that I am helping just by volunteering my time. I learn about how to take care of our house too so I guess it is a win for everyone. I have done so many different jobs over the years and I love seeing the progress of the house over the build. I get to meet so many wonderful people and listen to their stories too. Give of yourself and it will come back to you.

    A few years back I started helping out with F.I.R.S.T. robotics. I really missed coaching and it was a way for me to reconnect with the joy of seeing kids learn. I love solving problems as an engineer. I have experience with the programming language, so it seemed to be a perfect fit. I do enjoy seeing these highly motivated kids learn and try things on their own. They take ownership of what they do and are proud to display it when the judges come around. I give to these kids but get so much more back in return. I am happy that I have met someone that supports me in being part of this group and I look forward to being part of this organization for a long time.
    I hope that you find things like this that you can be passionate about too. This is where you are going to get the best rewards in your life, helping others and giving back. I will continue to take you so you can see and I hope that you learn to give with all of your heart in every thing that yo do. I hope to retire and become someone that helps others in need. I have had a great life and I have many rewards for the hard work that I have done. I want others to be able to say the same. I want to inspire others to give because they were given to. That is what makes the world a better place.

Find your joy in the life you give,

Your Loving Father

Monday, September 22, 2014

What I am Really Thinking

    You are six so you will not understand what I am about to tell you until you are much older. I know you think I am strong and that I could fix anything. I know that you love spending time with me and you think that your mother leaving us didn't hurt me. I hope that you always think that but you need to know that it hurt me more than you could possible understand. I still have days where I think about what happened. I think about her getting married just five months after leaving. I think about her not taking the time to get to know me and how she made everything my fault. I think about all of the things I have learned about myself since she left and the wonderful things that have happened too.

    There were so many times that you were sitting next to me on the couch when I was falling apart inside and having my arm around you was the only thing that brought me peace and kept me together. It was in that moment that I could sleep where I hadn't in weeks. There where many times when you said things that I could not explain to you and it made me just want to go to my room and lock the door and cry. I want to tell you I am sorry for the pain and the confusion that was caused by all of this. I wish I could tell you I'm sorry that you will miss out on a lot of things. I want to tell you that I'm sorry that you do not get to wake up with your mother being part of the family everyday anymore but how could I ever make you understand?  I want to make sure that you understand that I loved your mother so much and I hurt inside that she never took the time to see that. I know that I hurt her too but I never meant to.

    I will keep a smile on my face for you until it doesn't hurt anymore. I will pretend that everyday is a happy day and smile for you until you believe it. I will carry on with the same routine everyday just like nothing ever happened for you. I will play games and watch you grow everyday and hope that you never know how much I was hurting through all of this. I will love you even more to make up for the things that you are missing. I hope that you forgive me and your mother in time. I hope that you can find peace in your life and know that we both love you very much. I do wish things had turned out differently but time cannot be erased. So here we are today and I am smiling for you.

    I have let someone new in my heart. It scares me to let go and trust that she will not hurt me. I know you like her and I am happy for that. I know that you look forward to her coming over and again I am glad that you can. I know that you told her that you love her. I am not sure if you understand what that means but I hope that you do. I do love you and I want you to remember that too. I'm not sure where our lives go from here but I will be there for you until the end.

You make me happy and I hope that is enough,

Your Loving Father 

Friday, September 19, 2014

Philosophy for Blood Sugar Control (Maintaing a Schedule)

    One of the first things they told us when we first found out that William had type 1 diabetes was that we needed to keep him on a regular schedule. You learn really fast that diabetes has a mind of it's own and that you never get the same result twice. I guess the goal is to try and get yourself in a window that allows you to function with the lowest A1C that is safe. No matter what you do you will never find the secret answer that gets to the promised land of perfect control. You need to find every small advantage that you can and when you put them all together you find a place where you can live with some consistency.

    William is on a schedule that works for him. He gets up in the morning and has breakfast around 7:00 am. He then goes to school where they check him at 10:00 am and give him a snack. He is checked at 11:30 am for lunch. He is checked again at 2:00 pm and given a snack and one extra check before gym if it happens to be a gym day. William gets on the bus and goes to daycare where they check him at 4:00 pm. I pick him up from daycare and we go home where I make dinner and check him again about 5:30 pm. The next check isn't until 8:00 pm when be get his snack before bed. One more check at 11:00 pm to see where he is before I go to bed and one more at 2:00 am for assurance that he will make it through the night. It seems to work with William. That is right nine times a day he gets his finger poked and he never complains for a moment. Talk about brave and strong.

    Let me talk a little bit about why I chose some of the points that I did. Breakfast is kind of a no brainer but some of the others have real reasons. The 10:00 am check and snack is three hours after breakfast. It give me a good idea of how his breakfast ratio is and is after his insulin on board and carbs are all gone. This allows the pump to make a better correction dose calculation because nothing should be changing. This also gives him some carbs to keep in his system. The 2:00 pm check is for the same reason but is at 2:00 pm to try and match up with his school schedule. The 4:00 pm check just allows us to see how school affected him that day. Some days there is more activity with three recesses or gym so he might be lower than usual or it might have rained so no recess and he might be higher. 5:30pm is before dinner. The 8:00 pm check is about three hours after dinner so it fits into the same reasoning as above. the 11:00 pm check is three hours after the 8:00 pm check and snack. I get a real idea of where he is at with no carbs or insulin on board. The 2:00 am check is there because William has a huge twilight phenomena. From 8:00 pm until 12:00 am he get twice as much basal insulin as he does for the rest of the day.  It drops a little at 12:00 am but at 2:00 am the basal rate drops really low. My reasoning here is if his number is good at 2:00 am we should be safe for the rest of the night since the basal rate is lower. It seems to work well for his case.

    This is the life of a diabetic or parent of a diabetic. You think about numbers all of the time. How can you make them better without fear of putting him at risk of lows. You always look for a new trick or some other advice that can get you closer to normal and keep the A1C as low as possible. I hope this information helps someone that is confused see how someone else has done it and give them a little light in the darkness.

Shinning a light for you,

His Loving Dad

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Remembering your Grandfather Pendergrass

Hello my son,

    I wanted to tell you about your grandfather Pendergrass. I met your grandfather back many years ago.I knew him even before I met your mother. I had bought a motorcycle after your big brother left to go stay at his mothers' house. Your cousin Julie introduced me to her parents Karen and Guy and then I met your grandmother and grandfather on a few of the trips that we used to take. A few years later I met your mother. I loved riding on the motorcycles with him and your grandmother and having your mom along for the ride was awesome too. Your grandfather would get in front and just go. Sometimes it was hard to keep up but you always had fun getting where you where going. It was always about the stops along the way and the food and the people that were with you. I will miss that the most.

    Your grandfather Jack or Kenny as most people called him was someone that could talk to anyone. He smiled a lot and really loved to tinker on things. I would not have wanted him working on anything that belonged to me but I appreciated his ability to make things work. Your grandfather took me into his family and made me feel like part of the family very quickly. I knew that I could walk into the house and he would be there to welcome me in and offer me a cup of coffee and a story. He loved just being part of life around him and it made people that loved him want to be around him.

    I believe that your grandfather respected me and respected what I did for your mother and your brothers and sisters. I know he saw the family that I created with your mom. The extra rooms that I added to the house so that your sisters had a place to call their own. Taking the kids back in forth to school everyday while your mother was in school. The weekend camping trips to grandpas house and all of the fun that came from that. It was true that if you got in a boat with your grandfather that you never knew if you would be paddling back to shore or not but I guess that is what made life interesting. There were so many weekends when we would pitch the tent and just hang out at grandpas house for the weekend. Fires and smore's  talking and cooking hobo pies. Everyone enjoyed those weekends together. It was always nice for me to see Your big sister fishing off of the shore or the pontoon boat. She loved going on the annual fishing trips with grandpa. I am sorry that you will never get to do that with him. When I talked to Taylor about those weekends with grandpa she made it very clear that it was special because of the time that she got with grandpa. I think she will miss him the most. We used to tease her that is was more about the doughnuts and ice cream then fishing but I don't think it matter to her what they were doing as long as grandpa was there.

    Your grandfather had a way of touching everyone around him with love. I watched how he reached out with ease to everyone around him. I watched and tried to learn his ways. That was one place where I had so much to learn from him and I will miss getting that chance the most. Grandpa loved you and spent a lot of time with you. He watched you grow from a baby and held you in the first few minutes of your life. He saw you grow and learn to walk. He saw you play and ride your bike through the puddles. He watched you poke at the fire pit with a stick and learn how to just have fun with what was around you. He let you help drive his truck when he was moving things around in the yard and I think you liked sleeping in the camper more than you like sleeping in your bed at home. 

    You got to watch your grandfather die and I am sure that you didn't understand most of it. Why grandpa didn't answer you anymore at the end or why he couldn't get up and play with you anymore. I really hope that you never forget him. He loved his grand kids very much and I am glad that I got to meet this man before he died. He made my life better having known him. Kenny died on Thanksgiving morning 2013. He left an empty whole in many peoples lives that day.

Here is to you Jack Pendergrass. You will be missed,

Your Loving Dad

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Heavy Things on my Heart Today.

    Today is a hard day for me. Things happened that I expected but I thought would take a lot longer. Our lives have all changed again and I have to pick up the rest of the pieces and move on. Your life has changed more than mine and I hope the decisions that were made this weekend last and do not hurt you. The decisions that were made were made with hast, anger and purpose. I just hope that there is enough there to hold things together for the kids sake.

Keep in mind, my son, that I love you and you will always have my shoulder to cry on and to lean on when things get tough. I have found out how strong I can be this year. It is more than I expected but I am still here and still fighting for you. I hope that we can all learn from what happened this year. I hope that joy and peace for all of us is just around the corner.

I'm holding you tight and hoping that you never get hurt but if you do I will be there,

Your Loving Dad

Monday, September 15, 2014

Remembering your Grandmother

Hello William,

    I wanted to take some time and tell you about your grandmother that died last year. I want to do it while it is fresh in my mind and before you get too old to not remember her any more. Your grandmothers name was Nancy Carol Easterling or grandma Easterling as you called her. She and your grandfather were married for 49 1/2 years together. It was a rocky road for them but somehow they stayed together and made it. If it hadn't been for the liver problems I know they would have made 50 years and probably more.

    Our lives were simple growing up. We never had much money and rarely had new clothes. We didn't get to go on fancy trips or really have much to call our own. We lived in the projects and grandpa worked at GM on the production lines. Your grandparents we not really very good with money but we had a few things that were fun. I remember taking trips to see our relatives in Tennessee and sprinkled all over the South. We would pile into the station wagon and off we would go for a week or two. Like I said life was simple. No seat belts and no worries of safety. We played Putt Putt golf a lot too. Mostly it was your aunts and me playing in our rooms with our toys.

    When I was young I remember that your grandmother smoked. I remember going into gas stations and buying cigarets for my mom before that was frowned upon. Grandma Easterling was also not very healthy. She had many things that kept her from really enjoying life. She had thyroid disease and back surgeries. She had her knees replaced and was always sick. When she was close to the end she spent a lot of time in wheel chairs and on the electric scooter. You enjoyed riding with her on the scooter. Grandma always had small dogs. I remember mostly toy Pomeranians growing up. She had a few other dogs types later on in life but they were the dogs that I grew up with.

    I wish I could tell you about the story of when grandma came to see you in the hospital when you where born but that never happened. Grandma did come to see you at our house for Christmas that year. You were still only a few weeks old. It was only the second time she ever came to our house and as it turns out the last time she ever came to our house.

    I am not sure what else I could tell you about grandma. Her mother died from leukemia when she was 17. I never met my grandmother. Her name was Cathrine. That is where your aunt got her name. I hope that you  remember her a little. You were very young when she died last year and you didn't get to spend much time with her. I know she would have liked to see you grow up and I know that she loved you in her own way.

Remembering Grandma,

Your Loving Dad

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Letters From Dad (School)

    Hello my wonderful boy. I know that you are only six today but I hope this letter finds you before you enter high school. I know that you are excited about starting high school and you should be. It is the launching point to the rest of your life. I hope you take a moment to realize that it is a very short moment in your life and it will have a small and large effect on the rest of your life depending on the choices that you make.

    The small effect on your life is that most of the people in high school are not who they are going to be when they grow to be adults. Some of the most successful people in high school will become some of the least successful people in life while some of the people that were picked on now become the bosses and are quite successful. Your friends in high school may be there for a while and if you are lucky you may have a few that you keep for the rest of your life but most people in high school will not matter in your life in just a few short years.

    The big effect on your life are the choices that you make while you are in high school. You can choose to be a smart person and do all of your work study hard and finish at the top of your class. This will open doors for you to choose the college of your dreams and find the career that you always wanted. The other choice is to do what it takes to get through. This will close many doors for college and you may not get accepted into the program that you want to study. Your life will not be as interesting or fun but you put out less effort, so you get what you work for. I always told your older brother that you can get paid for what you know or get paid for what you do. Getting paid for what you know is a lot more fun and interesting and lends itself to a career that you enjoy everyday. Getting paid for what you do can be rewarding but more frustrating as well. You have time clocks to punch and a lot less flexibility to do what you want everyday. to give an example with my job today I can take time off to take you to the doctor without having to worry about how many personal days I have taken. I can make the time up when I need to but I can do what it takes to take care of you. When your sisters and brother lived with me I could go in late and leave early to get them to school as long as I worked on the weekends to make up the lost time.

    I hope that you make good choices in life that give you the most options. What ever you do I will be there still holding you close and being as proud as any dad could be that you William are my boy. I hope to see you get married and have children. I am looking forward to getting to know them and being part of their lives. Make yourself proud and be a pillar and a good example to your family and friends. Be the kind of friend that you want someone to be to you and you will find those friends in your life too.

Can't wait to see you graduate and become the man that I know you can be,

His Loving Dad

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Philosophy for Blood Sugar Control.

    I am an engineer and I love to solve problems. Having said that, diabetes is not a fun thing to troubleshoot. I design and build equipment that is used for testing parts. Each time I build something it is different than the time before. I do spend time trying to figure out why something is not working or why it is not working correctly. I have drawn from my experience of trouble shooting machines and use some of those principles to make the decisions for the changes that I make in William's care.

    I never make a change based on one number. I want to see a trend before I make a change. I want to see many numbers above or below to make an informed decision. I also want to see a trend after a change. I want to see things move in the direction that I made the change for. If he was running high I want to see him come down. If I get one high number I can see that it could be many things that have caused the number so do not over react. You will find that you chase your tail when you do. William's numbers for basel rates and carb ratios have been same numbers for the most part for the last few years. I make small adjustments when a number starts to drift high but he has been the same for the last few years. I do expect that he will need more insulin as he gets older. If you are making changes all of the time something is not right. I spend a lot of time studying William's numbers to see if I need to change his bolus number or the basel rate.

    One other thing that I have found was the his carb sensitivity was originally 100 to 1. I noticed that after a big correction dose that William would always go low. When I bumped it up to 200 to 1 the doctor originally told me this was a bad idea but after this change his numbers were so much better. A few years later we are at 180 to 1 and William is still doing great.

    If you are just starting out you might also find that when you give your young person 15 grams of carbs like the doctor says when he is low that they now shoot high and end up at 500 which is just as bad. One thing that I have found is correcting a low or a high takes a little time. If I give William candy to correct a low it might take an hour to see the real change in his number. When they say check and give more carbs after 15 minutes if you are correcting a low can cause you to over correct. In 15 minutes you might just start to see the beginning of the correction take place. I also find that it really depends on what his number is as to how many carbs that you need to give your diabetic. I have written a paper for William that instructs his school on how many pieces of candy to give him when his blood sugar is at an interval below 100. You must also keep in mind that if your diabetic is active you may need to give him a little more than normal. When the office does call for advice I always ask what William's schedule looks like for the rest of the day so I know if I need to add more candy to a normal correction. After he is given a correction I check in 30 minutes to make sure that he is heading in the right direction. It will take a little time to figure out what your diabetic will need in their lives but it will vary on how far off you are and many other factors.

     Night time checks have made a big difference. Some people do them and some don't. I check William every night at 11PM and 2AM. Immediately after I started doing this night time checks Williams A1C dropped significantly. It is worth the lost sleep to make sure that I give him the best chance at a healthy life as I can.

    William has had A1C's well below the doctors ranges for almost two years straight now. You need to pay attention to everything that you do and the result of what you did. Look for the things that cause your diabetic to go out and try to understand what happened. Try not to over analyze things but pay attention to what is happening. The doctor is there for advice, but you are the one that lives with the disease every day.

Looking for trends and making changes,

His Loving Dad

Monday, September 8, 2014

School and Diabetes

    With the first week of school under our belt, William is doing great with his blood glucose numbers at school. They have been between the 80-130 most of the time. There was one check where he was at 65 but overall his numbers have been great at school. Given how much they are going outside right now that is a good thing. I have been tweaking his numbers a little over night too and things are really starting to fall into place. I have had a week and a half of numbers in the 100's and only one 300 range number. What an amazing week.

    The new teacher is falling into the schedule and William is being checked as required. We also have a new class room helper this year. The ladies at the front desk that took such great care of William last year are back again so no new training for them. His teacher has asked a few really good questions like does William need to go to the bathroom more than the other kids. That is a tough answer but most of the time the answer would be no. If his blood sugar is high he needs more water and his body tries to get rid of the extra sugar and possible ketones. So he might. Then there is the question when William acts out in class. Is that blood sugar related? That too is a possible yes and no answer. When William gets high, short temper is something that can happen. They usually check him and then give me a call.

    It has been a great start to a new year from the school and diabetes realm. William is still excited but I think that will change this week when homework starts coming home. We will keep plugging away and he will continue to learn. I am glad to see him excited about school again.

School is strating right,

His Loving Dad

Friday, September 5, 2014

Lucky Turns Two

Lucky's 2nd Birthday
    Lucky Boy turned two this week. I got lucky this big bone and a squeak toy that was supposedly a durable toy. I guess they don't market test with 102 lb Alaskan Malamutes when the test for durability. Lucky had this bone for two days and now all that is left is a few small pieces on the floor. He demolished the bone and then turned his attention to the squirrel squeak toy. It only took him a few minutes to have the squeaker out of the squirrel and about an hour later the head was off and stuffing was everywhere. I wish I could say this was unexpected but it was no surprise as this what happens when you give lucky a toy with a squeaker in it. : )

May you rest in peace
    This anniversary also means that William has had celiac disease for almost two years now. That anniversary comes at Thanksgiving along with grandpa dying. So we celibate the fun things in our lives now. Celiac disease is not a severely life threatening disease as long as you take care of it. It is an inconvenience that really messes with every day life. There are no simple stops at the store. Forget fast food for the most part, and going to restaurants is a challenge. The food cost two to three times more for everything you buy. Some of the food is good and some really sucks for lack of a better way to say it. The last time we had William's blood tested his numbers for celiac were well below normal. That was good as his number was off of the charts when he was first diagnosed. Some things in life change and some stay the same. No matter what has happened over the last year the fact still remains that William needs extra attention and that will not change. We can hope for a cure but we need to plan for his life as it is today.

Happy birthday Lucky,

His Loving Dad

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Letters from Dad

    Hello my son. You had your first day of first grade yesterday and your first day of me being your full time parent. Life has changed so much for us in the last few months and I am trying to do the best I can. I am sorry for the pain that all of this has caused you. I hope that I live up to your needs of being a good father. I hope that when we get you to an adult that you still want to hug me. I just want you to get there healthy both mentally and physically. You had a great day for the first day of school and the hand off with your mom was not too bad.

    When I was taking care of your big brother, I always told him that you could get paid for what you know or you could get paid for what you do. It is a lot more fun to get paid for what you know so I hope that you make school a priority in your life. I'm not saying that working for a living is not worth while, but from my experience having a job where I get to solve problems and create things is so much fun. I can not imagine having to work on a production line or do something where I'm not challenged everyday for the rest of my life. I am going to work with you and help you as much as I can what ever path you take. I am going to work through the frustrating times with homework and be there for the celebrations as you move through school. I just want to be there next to you when you graduate from college. So I will tell you now congratulations for making it to college and for making it through. I am proud of you even if you chose another path in your life. Never forget that. I will always be proud of you.

   Always keep learning, it will keep things interesting. Learn at home, at work and school. One thing that I have learned over the years is that you do not need to be the smartest person in the room you just need to know who those people are and make sure you are willing to ask when you need help. It is nice to be one of the people that people come to but there is no way for you to know it all.

Here is to you learning for the rest of your life,

His Loving Dad

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

First Day of School

    Today was the first day of school. I got up and got a shower and got dressed then I went and got William up. He was a little tired but not bad. I reminded him of his new shoes waiting down stairs and then he got right out of bed. His new shoes blink when you walk. He was very adamant that he had to have shoes that blink. He also had his new backpack and lunch box waiting too. He ate breakfast and them ran over to put on his new shoes. He was ready to go 10 minutes before we needed to head to school. That was a great way to start the new school year. We got in the car and he was delivered on time.

    I am now the full time parent for William. She visits him on Tuesdays and Thursdays and every other weekend.  I still cannot believe that all of this happened. I still feel sad for William and the other children. His care will be on my shoulders once again. So I guess we are back to where we were before she left.  I had to go to the court house today to file all of the paperwork so that we can have a hearing to have everything moved for custody and child support. Life has changed for both of us. We begin the new year of homework and learning. I am worried that she will not make him get his homework done on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I am worried about her getting him back on time. I am worried about what all of this means for him and how he is going to take it. There really isn't much I can do about most of that. I will address that when we get there. One day at a time is all I can do for him right now. Hope things get better for all of us.

A good and sad first day of school,

His Loving Dad

A Story by William

William's letter about Lucky     William sat down yesterday an wrote a letter about Lucky our dog. He wanted me to publish it. So ...