“Ok, don’t forget your helmet”
So my youngest, he’s 10, was heading out on his bike with friends on Saturday. We live in a quiet neighborhood scattered with parks and trails. Surrounding us are acres and acres of forest with streams, lush flora and abundant fauna. Trails weave in and out of the vast forests throughout the neighborhood. Some trails do indeed lead out of the neighborhood into surrounding towns and even down to a 200 foot cascading waterfall. There is one trail just a block from my house that descends deep into a forest with various side trails leading in different directions including the falls and other cities. I’ve told my kids to stay off that trail unless with me or their dad. The decent isn’t steep due to many switchbacks but the elevation difference is indeed quite a bit from the starting point near our home. There are also dangerous animals that live among us. Bears, Bobcats and Cougars. While I’ve not seen any in our neighborhood they are here.
So off my kiddo went with friends to the park near our home. I’m sure if he got caught up in the moment or perhaps even made the conscious decision to ignore my requests that the kids not venture down that trail. 25 minutes after his departure I rang him up to ask how and where he was.
“mom we went down blank blank trail.”
“the one near our house?”
“Yes, we got to the end and now we are on a gravel road. I don’t know where.”
“can you check your blood sugar please.”
“I think I forgot my meter.”
“ok I need you to come home and get it and check.”
“It’s a long way up. Henry (name changed) said there is a burger place close”
“A burger place? In the forest?”
“I don’t know. It’s called Burger place (changed name).”
I googled Burger Place. It was in a neighboring city. 2.7 miles from my home. A 25 min drive since I can’t drive as the crow flies.
“Ok I’m calling Henry’s dad. Go toward the Burger Place. I will come there.”
I spoke to Henry’s dad. He agreed to head that way too.
From the time I called my boy and the time I saw him and his friends emerge from a trail near the Burger Place was about 35 minutes. It was the scariest 35 minutes ever. The boy left the house with a blood sugar of 127, which is in range but could easily drop with all the physical activity. Granted it was all down hill. I had no way of getting to him if he was still lost in the forest. No way of finding him if he was hurt or low. (well technically he had his iPhone and I did try to use ‘find my phone’ but the password had been changed so it was useless) He had no fast carbs on him. His friends know nothing of diabetes.
35 minutes of me freaking out. Not out-loud though. I kept it together for him and for Henry’s dad. In my head there were scenes of search dogs and helicopters. There were two friends standing helplessly while my son passed out. 35 minutes of me hating diabetes so much I could have screamed and cried and beat up the universe. I was much younger than my son when I took off on my bike for hours. No phones. No helmets. My friends and I would disappear into the woods behind our home for hours and hours. Trying to find the missile silo shafts of the old Nike Missile Sites. (we never found any) I spent 35 minutes wondering how many moments diabetes would steal away.
The truth of course was I wouldn’t have been so worried had he had his sling pack that held his meter, juice boxes, fruit snacks, and granola bars. Had he been prepared I wouldn’t have been worried. I likely would have been mad he went down a trail I asked the kids not to go down (of course that request was made a year prior when we first moved here so he probably forgot). I didn’t have time to be mad. I was too busy hating diabetes.
He had set down his sling pack when he dutifully put on his helmet per my request. I found it resting on a box in the garage.
His blood sugar when he arrived at Burger Place was 97. He was safe. He was smiling ear to ear, so pleased with himself for navigating the trail and riding to a burger joint. I gave him money and he ordered a hotdog, fries and a milk shake.
I put his bike in the back of my van. He didn’t want to try to ride back up the trail and neither did the other boys. Henry’s dad took the other bikes and I took the boys.
I dropped the other boys at Henry’s and continued home.
Sugarboy and I chatted about what it means to be prepared. How he isn’t supposed to leave the neighborhood and that includes taking trails leading out of the neighborhood. We talked about how fun and scary riding down the trail was. How the Burger Place had the best fries and great chocolate milkshakes. We talked about maybe putting some fruit snacks in his pockets just in case he doesn’t have his sling bag. We talked about how he can do everything and anything anyone else can do despite diabetes.
It ended well, but I guarantee you I aged 10 years in 35 minutes.