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Chris Fabry
Married to Andrea since 1982. We have 9 children together and none apart. Our dog's name is Tebow.
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Where We Are Now

After finding and remediating mold twice in our Colorado home, we abandoned ship in October 2008. Because of the high levels of exposure, our entire family was affected. After months of seeing different specialists for all of the problems, we came to Arizona to begin comprehensive treatment to rid our bodies of the toxic buildup. In August 2009 we moved into a larger home, four bedrooms, south of Tucson, north of Mexico. I am doing my daily radio program/ writing from that location. Thanks for praying for us. We really feel it.

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Tuesday, March 8, 2011
I hate the smell of insulin at 1:30 a.m. I hate the smell of just about anything that early, but especially insulin. It smells like something stored in an army footlocker. Maybe old combat boots. Perhaps a textbook on WWII tactical weaponry.

At 1:14 this morning Colin awakened me, his face close to mine. “I feel low.”

I hate those three words, too. Not because I have to get out of bed but because I know what it’s doing to his body. How ravenous he will be. I’ll need to act counterintuitive to that.

Okay, I won’t lie, I hate getting out of bed. It’s a long way up from the air mattress and my bones want to stay close to the ground.

So we do the pancreas dance. He trudges from the room and slumps in a chair, his jaw slack, panting. He gets out his insulin case, opens it, retrieves the poker, gets up, washes his hands, goes back, pokes, gets blood, inserts the strip into the meter, waits for it…waits for it...

I stumble into the kitchen without glasses and stare at the green numbers on the microwave.


I hate diabetes.


“58,” he says.

Normal people have a pancreas that works. Normal people take their pancreas for granted. You eat a bag of Doritos or a Snickers bar and never pray your pancreas will produce insulin. Your pancreas regulates your body’s blood glucose levels to remain steady somewhere between 80 and 120. Don’t hold me to that, it’s early. But that’s basically where you stay. Fall below 70 and you feel it. Fall below 60 and you shake. Keep going down and you’ll eventually pass out. Some people don’t feel it anymore, they can’t tell they’re getting low, but Colin can. Sometimes I think that’s God’s gift to us.

He has a spoonful of organic honey that organic bees have been spitting into organic buckets on organic bee farms somewhere in Organicville. That will bring him up a notch and take the edge off. But we’ve only begun. He has 3 little mini-peeled carrots which aren’t approved by the organic bee society, but I don’t see anybody from that organization in the kitchen at 1:40 and their 800 number isn't staffed at this hour. So he eats the three mini-peeled carrots.

I’ve been known to make a stir fry at this point, chopping onions and cabbage and mixing with an egg or two. It’s protein and will help him hang on until morning. I grab two eggs from the refrigerator in the garage and Colin meets me there, pulling out a special drawer.

“I was thinking this,” he says, holding out a Granny Smith apple. The organic kind with the orange ring around it.

I roll my eyes like it’s fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. We haven’t had fruit for a long time but apples are slowly being reintroduced to the diet. I have no idea what this is going to do to his levels. His body will react wildly to the fructose. You will say, “But it’s an apple, leave the kid alone.”

Exactly. It’s just an apple. That’s why I hate diabetes. I have to dose him for a stupid apple.

I hate dosing a shaking kid who gets up in the middle of the night. I hate drawing up the insulin and handing him a needle he shoves into his skin. But if I don’t, his number will rise above 120, above 200, above 300.

So I write all this down in his book I also hate that says when he went to bed he was 111. And I see how much insulin I gave him to keep him in range overnight. We obviously overdid it, but when I compare the number from the previous night that was exactly the same, I wonder. Did he have more exercise? Did he not have something right before bed to hold his levels steady? Am I supposed to click my heels three times and say some magic incantation to keep him above 80? How does a pancreas do it?

I make the eggs, but get shell in the pan, so I have to get a spoon to scoop out the shell, but since I don’t have my glasses on I bend low to see it and I bang my head on the hood above the stove. He eats the apple and watches all this, as if it’s a Disney sitcom. I’m not thinking words they say on Disney.

I hand him the eggs and get out the insulin bottle. We have determined that there were 24 carbs in the apple. There were also a few in the honey and the mini-peeled carrots.

“How much would you have for just the apple?”

“Mom would give me 2 units.”

My wife would give this dose without thinking. She rattles carbs in her brain like a supercomputer. I am right-brained, more creative, which is wonderful if you’re writing a song or a book or an essay on civility, but if you want to keep a kid’s glucose meter from saying “HIGH” and playing Mozart’s Requiem at 1:55, you need the left hemisphere of your brain and I do not have as much as my wife does.

I can’t give him 2 units. I do not want him shaking in an hour or two. But I don’t want him to go high either. That is my conundrum at 2 a.m. Forty-five minutes ago I was under the covers. I'm beginning to think I won't be going back to bed.

I decide on 1.25 units. I feel good about that. It’s a safe dose. I hand him the needle and he puts it in his thigh. Was it enough? Probably not.

He looks in the refrigerator again, the light reflecting off his face and the robe that makes him look like Hugh Hefner’s son. He sighs, closes the door, and rubs his eyes on his way back to bed.

“Goodnight,” he says.


“I love you,” he says.

It won’t be long before he’s doing all of this by himself. It won’t be long before he’s staring into his own refrigerator in his own house or apartment. I’ll be asleep somewhere, oblivious to all of this.

“Love you, too,” I say.

And I do.

No matter how much I hate diabetes and organic bees and sharp needles and writing down statistics of a little boy who didn't do anything to deserve this, I love him. And that’s what will keep me up until 4 when I’ll check him again.

4:20 a.m. It took me five minutes to wake him, but we tested. His level is 148. Within the acceptable range. Sigh.


Anonymous said...

You're a wonderful daddy. And a fairly good pancreas. Thanks for sharing today.

Anonymous said...

Oh I'm sorry and I feel for you. We had the opposite problem last night - a BG of 590 and try sleeping waiting for that to go down. I hate diabetes too!! But for the lows, as something to try, we have always given a Quaker Chewy chocolate chip granola bar. They have a very good combo of carbs and fat (which is the essential part to keeping the # steady once it rises). To raise the BG, a meal of protein just won't do it as easily as a combo of carbs & fat. A chocolate bar would also work (the fat also being the crucial component for staying power). Good luck to you all as you navigate this. It can really throw us for a loop sometimes. Blessings. said...

I shed a tear as I read this. I watch my husband poke his finger 2-3 times a day and think "he has to do this for the rest of his life". I have to shop different, cook different, learn how to read labels and count carbs...its overwhelming. But I do it. I do it for the sake of my family. Because I know now that if I can teach my kids how to eat healthy then maybe if their pancreas decides it can't act right, they will know how to handle it.
Diabetes has changed our lives, but for the better. For my husband to lose 40 lbs and begin paying more attention to "being in the moment" with his family...I wouldn't trade it. Thanks for this, Chris. It brought me perspective.

Dave said...

Chris - Never compromise with him either. It's VERY tempting... But it can lead to long term dependance. My brother had diabetes. When he was 8 he was diagnosed. But he never got to where he respected the disease. He thought, "I can control it." He died last April... less then 6 months after finally moving out to live on his own. There was family nearby - even in the same town... But he died at age 37 because he though he could control it. By the time he was found, it was all over. Teach your son the discipline to respect this disease. We all miss Scott, and we can't bring him back. BTW - I thought the 3 words were "Dad, I'm shakey"

BobbieJ said...

How we take good health for granted. Today I am going to thank God for a pancreas that works the way it should. My 4yr old granddaughter just started having seizures this week. After 4 days in the hospital, she is going home and will be on meds for epilepsy. Thanking God that it was not tumors or worse causing her problems. I am so thankful that God watches over our "little ones"

bluedaisy said...

Chris - Thanks for sharing your honest heart. I find those who I admire most are those with real faith, real feelings and who share real life with those around them.
Life is hard - but God is good. What a blessing that your little man is so in touch with his body. Prayers to you and your family - Pam in Poplar Grove, IL

Megan said...

We are so lucky to have a right-brained daddy like you, Daddy!

Love you!


Tim said...

I agree, great job Dad. Blessing to you.

Anonymous said...

"not understanding why but trusting..."

thinking of and praying for your family Chris.~

Gale said...

It was beautiful to read this story, it helps me understand all that is involved in diabetes. I was just diagnosed, but I am early stage and can handle with diet only, but it shows me the courage of a young boy and his Dad at a very critical time.

jennifer said...

i am so there. it helps to be reminded that there are other groggy, sleep-deprived parents out there mustering all their mental and emotional resources to take a stab at dosing insulin and choosing snacks with staying the middle of the night.

~K said...

I have listened to you on Open line and Andrea from W-A-Y- back (early 90's) But, only today checked out your blog (Flog)
You are such a great writer! Need to read the new Heaven book. I can't wait to see June Bug (movie) but personally, I'd really like to "see" Dogwood!
Organic honey sounds like it would be super healthy. (for so many reasons.) I'm an RN so all this made total sense. Agree, Colin will grow up all too fast. (I also appreciated the snippet on when you and Andrea got to get away for 6 hours for dinner/concert in Phoenix.) Love, K.

Anonymous said...

I've been a diabetic for over 35years. I'm also a mom, and I can hear, the frustration, heart ache, and worry in your words. People don't understand that diabetes,unlike many forms of cancer, is a cronic and can't be cured. That it has long term damage to your organs. I think all of us play the "why me?" "if only I had____________" game, you finally get to "it is what it is". You either deal with it and get stronger, or it over takes's no different than dealing with other events in life, everyone has some burden they carry, abusive people in their lives, over whelming debt, etc. Diabetes is manageable. It teaches you self-discipline, probably one of the most valuable skills any of is can ever have. It teaches you inner strength, the ability to manage challenges. Most diabetic children have higher gpa.s I know it's no fun, but it will make him stronger in life. And supposedly the smell of insulin reduces the likelihood of alzhiemers, go figure.

Anonymous said...

I agree that you are a great dad & husband to help @ a time when you would rather roll over & go back to a hint for the next time you get egg shell in you scrambled egg....from my Amish aunt...years ago she told me just use the big part of the shell...put it next to the shell in you dish & it slips right on the bigger every time...

Anonymous said...

Now that's what love is all about....

wvdiane said...

This is a wonderful and terrible post, Chris. Hope you know what I mean.

Cheryl said...

Praises to you and your wife, Chris! I am an insulin dependent diabetic of 36 years. It has been a struggle with this disease for so long, but I want you to know it can be done - and done well. It takes willingness on the diabetic's part, and of course, perseverence, help from others (like you are giving your boy), keeping abreast of new knowledge about how to control it, etc. I take multiple shots and do multiple blood tests a day (usu. 4 shots daily, 6-8 blood tests). Remember to teach your little son, "through God, all things are possible". That is how I cope every day. Blessings to your family, and bless you Chris for sharing your story.

Anonymous said...

Chris I love your honesty about the whole situation. Sacrafical love cost alot. You are truly loving your son and one day he will look back and say, what a great dad I had, he got up in the middle of the night and helped me. You are a great example of what kind of love God asks us to have for each other. Thanks for sharing.

Lori Clinch said...

Yesterday on my blog I posted about a local (Lakeland, FL) 'Walk For The Cure' for diabetes. Today I was led to your blog and read your posting of March 8, 'The Scent of Insulin'. I was deeply moved by this experience of you and your son. I decided to post this account with a link to your site to provoke/encourage others to be mindful of those enduring and suffering with this health condition and to do something proactive and easy (we all need to walk more!) such as registering for a local walk for the cure. Here is the link to my blog posting:

God Bless,
Lori Clinch, Health Adventure Coach

Anonymous said...

Chris, Thanks for the blog. This story really touched my heart---a son who takes his health seriously and a daddy who cares.
I am a single, 33 yr old woman in MS. This past Feb, I had surgery, more extensive than originally planned and resulting in a 7-day hospital stay. Thankfully, both my parents were with me thru it all. Their being there and prayers helped me so much during this time. I am SO blessed!

I really enjoy listening to your show when I can. Thanks for sharing your heart and family!