Sunday, July 15, 2012

Family Vacation

The Emery family just returned from a fantastic vacation in the beautiful mountains of New Mexico.  Amelia's family has several cabins in Cloudcroft and we took a 1,350 mile round trip through the southeastern part of NM this week.  We left on Friday, July 6th, which also happened to be our 16th anniversary.  We drove to Carlsbad and made our way to Sitting Bull Falls in the  Lincoln National Forrest.
Then we made our way to the cabins in Cloudcroft, where we helped Nana and Papa clean them out and prepare them for our week's habitation.
We made our way out to White Sands National Monument, south of Alamogordo and played in the dunes for a while.  Ele was leaping joy!
 We took advantage of our proximity to several hiking trails, exploring our bit of the mountain with the California Cousins.  This trail was just around the corner in Cloudcroft and took us up to a scenic lookout where we saw the remains of the famous wooden "S Trestle".
 Back at the cabins, Papa put his engineering ingenuity toward repairing/rebuilding the deck on the front cabin.  Everyone pitched in and helped.  By the end of the week, it was 90% finished. :)

 We took a drive up the mountain to the Sunspot observatory.  It is a huge telescope devoted to measuring and observing cosmic events relating to our Sun.  It was way cool!

 On our way back down the mountain, we stopped at a scenic overlook and took in the beauty of the Tularosa Basin.  What a view!

 We enjoyed all sorts of rustic cooking and camping fare, but this treat was wonderful, if a bit sticky: S'mores!  Made with huge-mongous marshmallows.

 We actually got to take two trips out to White Sands, our second was after the California Cousins arrived.  On our second trip, in addition to playing in the dunes, sliding down and drawing in the sand, we also played with "light writing" with my camera.  Below, you can see a stormcloud I drew with a flashlight.

Nene and Nana put up a hummingbird feeder and we had quite a show with several of these marvelous birds fighting for dominance and feeding rights.

 On Thursday, Amelia and I decided to treat the kids and cousin Zach to a horseback trailride.  It was magnificent, fun, and helped us understand what 'saddle sore' means.  It was my first time to do any significant horseback riding and I loved it (maybe as much as Mary Hannah did!)

 We took a second nature hike out to Bridal Veil falls, but were unlucky because part of the trail was closed and we never actually got to see the purported 45 foot falls, although we enjoyed the hike.

 On the way home on Friday, we traveled north to the Three Rivers Petroglyph site and the kids tried to count the reported 21,000 individual glyphs.  I think they only got up to around 500, but it was a commendable effort.

 After that, we drove up to Carizozo and saw the Vally of Fire, where ancient lava vents spewed molten rock up into the basin and created a huge field of what is now cooled lava.  The lava is non-porous and helps sustain a variety of desert wildlife, but is hard on shoes and will shred your footwear if you try to walk on it for long.  Still, it was fun to visit.

 All in all, it was a fantastic vacation where we got to see fun things, have some great experiences and make memories with family.

But the wonderful people pictured above were not the only ones who came on our vacation.  We had an uninvited guest: Diabetes.  I know I have talked about living with Type 1 in our family before, but during our vacation, as much as we tried to just enjoy a normal time, we had to make accommodations for our implacable foe.  On Sunday, Ethan went low in the morning while we were at church in Cloudcroft.  Over the course of the day, he had to check his BG 20 times and was low 17 of them.  We were constantly trying to stuff sugars in him and it got so bad that we almost had to use his glucagon shot.  The nearest medical facility was down the mountain 16 miles away (the trip takes 30-40 minutes because of the steep grade to get down the mountain).  We had to call the emergency pager system from our Pediatric Endocrinology team at OU children's medical center.  They were a big help and at about 4 am on Monday morning, we finally were able to rest and get back to 'normal'.  I remember when we were packing for our trip, a friend who was visiting commented to Amelia when she was packing the first couple bags about getting everything packed up.  Amelia told her that the first few bags were just the medical supplies we have to take.  With two Type 1 Diabetics, we had to have supplies for the entire week, as well as backups for everything.  Extra insulin pods for their pumps, extra Novalog, extra Lantus, extra syringes, extra juice boxes, extra sugar treats, extra alcohol wipes, extra test strips, extra ketone sticks... extra everything.  Enough for two kids for one week.  We don't get a break, even on vacation.  Most of the week, the kids' BG were okay, but everything we did required extra vigilance on our part... hiking?  Check BG before we leave, restock juice and skittles in case we have a low due to more exertion.  White sands?  Great fun, but we have to interrupt every so often and check to make sure we're in range.  I don't know whether it was the extra exertion or the altitude or what factors contributed, but it seemed that the kids were either too high or going low whenever we checked them.  I'm not complaining so much as explaining.  As you can see from the pictures above, we don't let it stop us, but it sure does slow us down.  Cousin Zach was sleeping in our cabin, but on Sunday night, when Ethan was fighting his lows and feeling pretty emotional (due to his BG and the situation), Zach got so freaked out at the scene, he ended up sleeping in another cabin because it scared him to see his cousin Ethan screaming and crying about hating diabetes and not wanting to have to get a shot of glucagon or have to do injections because we took his pump off him while he was going low, to try and bring his BG back up.  I can't help thinking that if we had our D.A.D already, it would have tipped us off to the lows and helped us combat them before they got critical and sent us on a roller-coaster ride of BGs that lasted almost 20 hours.  We continue to hope and pray for a cure so that maybe someday, our family vacation will not include that dastardly diabetes.


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