How To Know The Signs Of Diabetes

Carter's first night in the PICU - November 20, 2013
Carter’s first night in the PICU – November 20, 2013

Playing with my kids this afternoon, I was thrown back down memory lane.  More like nightmare lane, Carter lost his balance and wobbled and it took me back to some of the signs I was missing in the 4 days right before his diagnosis, when I presume he was in the huge downward spiral.  Knowing what I know now, I would have been able to stop DKA in the first day with the signs that Carter was displaying.  Being a seasoned mother with a 4-year-old already, I figured what Carter was going through was teething mixed with a virus. I remember the panic, the day I finally took him to Urgent Care when I’d placed him down for the 4th time that day to try to nap.  He’d sucked down his 5th bottle of milk, and didn’t want to let me go.  I was so frustrated, and given that my daughter (my oldest) has never been a good sleeper and pretty stubborn I figured the genetic disposition was now present in my son.  I remember out of pure frustration placing him in his bed, after he stumbled toward me.  I though he was just tired and needed sleep.  I’d been up with him the whole night before and at this point both he and I were going on hour 30 of zero sleep.  I was a zombie, with him fighting a virus (I thought) and my daughter needing me too I felt like I was drowning.  Once I got him in bed, I left his room and as I was half way down the stairs I heard a sound that caused me to turn and take the stairs 3 at a time.  I got to his room and he was laying on his back vomiting.  He was so weak he couldn’t sit up.  I rushed to him, turned him on his side and cleared his airway.  Sobbing I placed him in a bath to try to make him feel better, it was then that I noticed how gaunt he was.  Things started to click, I realized he was drinking more and wetting more diapers.  When the Urgent Care wrongfully diagnosed Carter with just a virus, not knowing much about Diabetes I believed her.  I also, deep down wanted it to be just a virus so badly and remember the relief I felt when hearing that’s all it was.  Two more days passed and he wasn’t getting better, per the instructions from Urgent Care, I had pumped my diabetic son full of sugary Gatorade.  The diagnosis goes on from there, so the signs to look for are, extreme thirst, frequent urination, being klutzy, walking like they are drunk, sunken in dehydrated look, incredibly whiny, weight loss, lethargy, increased hunger, sweet-smelling breath (which is very hard to notice when pumping your child with Gatorade).  Other signs involve feet that are tingly, or vision changes, but with a child who is so young that they aren’t talking yet, those clues are never known.  Carter was 17 months when he was diagnosed.  There is no way to know for sure, but had I known these signs I would have demanded a glucose test been done at Urgent Care that day.  The guilt for having my son suffer for 5 days until I finally took him to the emergency room eats away at me daily.  I know there is nothing I did or didn’t do that gave him Type 1, but I feel as though I failed in my job of anticipating his needs.  When he stumbled around today I unfortunately remembered the whole scenario back from November 2013 play-by-play.  I desperately, in that moment wanted to never remember those details.  Yet now here I sit, my son has gained 3 pounds and is healthy and perfect.  Without remembering those really dark times, I wouldn’t have the joy of seeing how far we have come.  I encourage anyone who is wondering about their child, ask your doctor to check their blood sugar.  I can say today, with great conviction, that Carter will never experience DKA to that degree again, I will make sure of it.  Everyday we strive for perfection, with a disease that doesn’t allow it.  Somehow, where we are today, is even more sweet (no pun intended) because of the fight.  To say that I am inspired by my children is the biggest understatement I could make, I am grateful, astonished, and so proud that we have come out of this so successfully in only 4 months.  I imagine that even with the ups and downs that diabetes promises, I can guarantee that my family will only grow stronger, fight harder, and seek happiness more adamantly than ever before.

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