On Friday, November 10, 2006 I took my then 5 year old son to the doctor. He had been feeling a little off for a few days. When we got home the doctor called me at home. “Oh boy, this can’t be good if the doctor is calling me”. I was to take him to the ER NOW.
The ER doctor told us our son had Type 1 Diabetes. What? The huge change in our lives didn’t hit me and wouldn’t for a long time.
He was admitted to the hospital for the weekend. We live in a small city that does not have the necessary medical professionals that could teach us our new way of life. On Monday we flew the 840 km to the nearest city. It was overload of information. His pancreas was no longer making the necessary insulin to break down the sugar in his food. What?
For every meal and every snack and before bed every night he must poke his finger and draw a drop of blood. A hand held machine sucks it up and tells us his blood glucose (sugar) level. His target is between 4 and 10. When he was diagnosed on that Friday, now burned in the deepest part of my brain, he was 41. Oh crap, 10 times the normal. I then must calculate the carbohydrates in his meal or snack. We all know about carbs from Atkins right, so everyone is still with me? I do a calculation (easier than it sounds, really) of the carbs. When I have this number I draw from a vial to a syringe and inject my baby with insulin that keeps him alive. Without this insulin death is not far off. Wow, seeing that makes me tear up. The same at bed time. Take the blood glucose level. If his number is too low he needs to have a snack to bring it up to get him through the night. And another injection.
If we do the math in the past year he has had AT LEAST (because it could be more than 4 times a day) 1460 pokes to the finger and 1460 injections. These injections can be in either arm or leg, stomach or butt. “Butt”, that makes him laugh. This will last the rest of his life. There is no cure. Insulin injections are the only way to keep him alive, it is a treatment not a cure.
Don’t feel sorry for him, he is a tough boy and often tells me he likes having diabetes. What? I am a mother that doesn’t believe in giving my kids candy and junk food. Yes, on occassion but not a regular part of thier diet like I see in most kids. (Just my observation) So when his blood gets too low he needs sugar to bring it back up. A low blood sugar can send him into a coma. That is bad. When you’re 6 having a sugary treat is the greatest because you HAVE to. Luckily we have never experienced a coma. When he is low there is a varity of symptoms a diabetic can experience. His most common ones are the shakes, headache and moody (usually cries). I know it’s bad when he can’t test his own blood. This is when it hurts me the most. I would give anything to trade spots with him. I would take the diabetes and live with it if he could be free from this monster.
For a long time before he was diagnosed I noticed something different. How long, I can’t say for sure. He would drink water constantly and be up during the night to pee, every night. So he would be tired during the day because he couldn’t sleep all night. In the back of my head I thought “OMG can it be diabetes? No, not my son”. I thought if I ignored it, it would go away. You know what, it’s not like a cold. Am I a bad mother? Then I noticed he was looking so thin. All my kids are on the small side so it really took abit for me to notice it. A change over a long period of time is hard to notice when you see someone everyday. I had decided then it was time to see the doctor. And thus brings me to the beginning of my blog.
I share this with you to educate people about Type 1 diabetes (aka Juvenile Diabetes). Type 1 and the more common Type 2 are totally different things. In short, type 2 diabetics make insulin but thier body doesn’t know how to use it. Their diabetes is managed by diet (a reduction in sugar intake) and possibly medication. Type 1 diabetics don’t make any insulin at all and require insulin injections. They do not have any diet restrictions. Please don’t say to me “oh, no more sugar for you” because that is wrong. Please don’t be an armchair doctor and tell me he has type 1 diabetes because I gave him too much sugar. As you read earlier this is not the case and not the case in anyone. He has diabetes because his father and I have the markers for type 1 diabetes. Of course we didn’t know this. We passed these markers to him and something triggered his system to kill the part of the pancreas that makes insulin. Now what was that trigger? That is the billion dollar question. If they knew that a cure would be close.
Here are the symptoms to look for
Weight change (loss)
Extreme fatigue or lack of energy
Frequent or recurring infections
Cuts and bruises that are slow to heal
If you see anyone with these make them go to the doctor. It’s just a simply blood test. No invasive procedures.
It’m my wish as a mother that a cure be found in his lifetime. As a mother I have to believe there is going to be a cure. If I did not believe this I’m sure the men in white jackets would take me away.
I haven’t had too many “OMG why him” break down moments. I live with it and that’s the way it is. Once in a while it hits me. It’s almost physical, taking my breath from my chest. I call this the “diabetes punch”. And to celebrate our anniversary I’m having a Kick-diabetes-in-the-butt-one-year-anniversary-party. Butt-hehe.
You’re asking, Celebration? What are you crazy? Yes, at times but that’s another blog all together. In our crazy one year I am thankful he has type 1 diabetes because it could be far worse. Thankful? He plays sports-curling, takes piano lessons, plays with friends at school, walks and jumps and can even fight with his brothers and sister. He will have a long and normal life in comparision with other sick kids.
I had a friend in my teenage days that alwasy said “That which does not kill us makes us stronger”. Little did I know when I was 17 that I would be living by this everyday of my life.
Thank you for reading this and always remember the symptoms.
Please visit the Juvenile Diabetes website. www.jdrf.ca You can learn more and even make a donation to help my son and others like him stop the madness of poking and injections.