I have just been through one whirlwind of a week. I am sure many of you can relate. My son Brennen, 2 1/2, was just diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes 9 days ago. I thought something might be going on and thought he might have diabetes because I noticed him drinking excessivly and he started wetting the bed at nap time and wetting through his pull-up at night time. I think I was just in denial, hoping it was just a phase or something minor going on with him. We finally ended up in the emergency room with him last Thursday night after trying to schedule an appointment with the pediatrician and being told he needed to be seen right away, that this couldn’t wait I didn’t want to rush to the emergency room and expose him to any viruses etc. if I didn’t need to, so I chose to check his blood sugar at home first. (I was a gestational diabetic when I was pregnant with both my boys, so I had the needed testing supplies at home.) It had been almost 4 hours since he had eaten and his sugar was in the upper 500 range. We thought that couldn’t be right so we tested the whole family and he was the only one with this result. So that started the ball rolling so to speak.
We rushed Brennen to the local ER at almost 9:00 at night. I was still in denial, hoping it was something else, the flu, a virus, anything besides what I knew it really was. Once we finally saw a medical professional, it seemed like the first thing they told us, even before checking Brennen out, was, “He is going to be admitted. Probably at Rainbow Babies.” I felt complete and utter disbelief. I wanted to just break down and cry right then and there. I must have instantly turned white as a ghost. But I had to be strong and hold it all in. I didn’t want my little man to be scared or upset. Next they told us that they would have to start an IV to give him some fluids in hopes of bringing his sugar levels down. On the first try, they missed his vein, and it was absolutely heart wrenching to have to hold him still so they could poke him yet again to start it at an alternative site. He kept crying, “Mommy I’m done! I feel better! Let’s go home!” It was awful! Finally, they decided he was going to be admitted at the Cleveland Clinic instead of Rainbow and an ambulance arrived to pick us up for transport at nearly 1:00 in the morning. Only one parent was aloud to ride with him and I was thankful my husband decided that parent would be me. He stopped at home to get a few things and then eventually met us up at the hospital. Once we arrived, it was a frenzy of nurses, residents, doctors, and finally we were left alone to try and sleep. It was very loud; the unit was filled with sounds of babies crying, childrens television shows, and nurses checking their patients. We basically got no sleep at all.
The next day was a rush of meetings. We met with so many nurses, doctors, nutritionists, and educators, that by the end of the day, we didn’t know anyones name or who was who. We had had a one day, crash course in how to manage our son’s disease. Then at dinner time, we were told we could either go home or spend another night. We chose to leave and go home to our 4 year old, Landon, our own house, and mostly, our own shower and beds. Then began the task of doing it all on our own. Brennen quickly got used to checking his sugar. We told him that his finger was going to get a kiss instead of saying it would pinch so he would not be so afraid. This seemed to help. Within a day or two he was actually able to use his meter mostly on his own. He liked to be in control of what was going on. Even at such a young age, it is amazing that if you give them some control, they handle the change in a more positive manner. Still, he did not like getting his insulin shots. Who can blame him? I actually ended up letting him stick me in the arm with an empty syringe to show him that it didn’t hurt so bad. It worked a little, because he puts up less of a fuss about it now than he did in the beginning. I also like to let him pick where he is going to get each shot. Back to the control thing. He seems to be more calm if he can choose. The hardest thing was telling him he couldn’t have certain foods he wanted at certain times. My kids are used to snacking pretty much whenever they want as long as they eat their meals, so this was a huge adjustment for him. It was hard on me too. I hated that he had to cry over food. It took some creativity to get him to try new “free” foods. But now he has learned to like new things and he has more options to choose from. It gives him the freedom to still snack when he wants. He just needs help to choose the right types of foods.
Each day gets a little easier. It is still really hard, but I know soon it will be like second nature. Today was the first day I was actually able to let it out and just cry a little. I have felt all week like I just needed to cry, but every time I was ready, I would be in public or alone with the kids so I held it inside. Then by the time I was alone or in private, I was so emotionaly and physically drained that I just couldn’t get it out. I felt like I was numb. I sort of felt guilty for being upset, because I know that this is so very manageable and it could be so much worse. Brennen isn’t dying. He isn’t ill where he is stuck in the hospital for weeks or months at a time. It took me awhile to realize that I am a parent and he is my child and I have a right and a responsibility to get out my emotions so that I can feel better and better take care of him. I feel so blessed to have a great support team behind me and I look forward to getting to know more moms who have walked in my shoes. I think, what I really needed in order to deal with this was to hear stories of other parents’ experiences, to know that I am not alone. I look forward to hearing other parent’s stories, making new friends, and working to find a cure.