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WOSTER: Wishing for a different kind of Christmas miracle

The background image on my laptop screen is a photograph of our 7-year-old granddaughter wearing a bicycle helmet and pink flip-flops and posing atop a pile of fake rocks.

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The background image on my laptop screen is a photograph of our 7-year-old granddaughter wearing a bicycle helmet and pink flip-flops and posing atop a pile of fake rocks.

The rocks are one of the activity stops along a nifty biking trail/playground area near the state Health Lab north of the Capitol. The area, long a cluster of puddles and cattails, now has a path that winds beside the cattails, through a tunnel under a road, across a noisy wooden bridge over a small pond and up a steep, steep hill toward the northeast edge of town. Along the trail, play areas with swings and climbing webs and fake rock piles offer the opportunity to put the bike down and move around a bit. It’s pretty cool if you’re a grandpa out for a ride with your granddaughter.

When our granddaughter visited for a couple of days last summer, she and her grandma did a lot of playing dolls. Doll playing has unwritten, often-changing rules, and the granddaughter doesn’t mind telling me I’m not very good at it.

She thought I was pretty good at taking her riding. The first morning, we mounted our bikes near the garage, pedaled through Hilger’s Gulch and across the road to the playground trail. We stopped at every activity coming and going and still made it home for lunch.

The next day, we loaded the bikes in the pickup and drove to a trail in a park near the river. Our plan was to follow the trail along the river, through a second park and under the main highway bridge to the old, black railroad bridge. That route, crossing two parks, offered plenty of chances to stop at swings and teeter-totters and merry-go-rounds and twisting slides.

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How could that not be a grand adventure, right? Well, how about if, 20 minutes into it, at just the second set of play equipment in the first park, the granddaughter grows quiet and listless, decides playing is no fun and wants to do nothing but sit at a picnic table with her head on her folded arms?

My granddaughter has Type 1 diabetes. So do two of her big sisters. This granddaughter was diagnosed at about 17 months of age. It means careful awareness of diet, frequent checks of blood levels and regular injections of insulin. Grandma Nancy is a nurse. She’s meticulous about things, so we left the house with a backpack stuffed with the meter and poker, carbohydrate-appropriate snacks, flasks of water and things like that.

“You getting low?’’ I asked. “I should check your blood.’’

She said she didn’t feel low, but she didn’t feel good, either. She also said she could check her own blood. She prepared the meter and gave herself a poke and we both waited for the reading. Yikes. It was way up the scale. I knew it was much too high, and I don’t know a lot about diabetes.

At that point, there in the park, I was asking myself, “Why don’t you know a lot about it? Three of your granddaughters have it.” The answer is, Nancy knows. I know that isn’t good enough. Since the incident in the park, I’ve tried to learn. I read things. I pay better attention. I still can’t imagine me being the one responsible for the correct decisions, but I’m trying to learn more.

I managed to get the granddaughter and the two bikes to the pickup and back home that morning. Grandma Nancy took over. Things turned out OK.

But, see, that’s one of the frustrations of this disease. Identical mornings, diets, routines, activities, yet one is full-speed ahead, the other is head down on a picnic table. Usually, she’s pretty predictable, but not that time.

Researchers are seeking a cure. They promised the person who donated money for the search that they’d find one. But, you know what? They promised my granddaughter, too, and her two big sisters, and a lot of other people living with Type 1 diabetes.

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I’m not criticizing them. Not at all. A cure is kind of a miracle. Such a miracle would beat almost any other Christmas gift I can imagine.

Related Topics: HEALTHTERRY WOSTER
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