I honestly don’t know how we arrived here. One year into my son’s diagnosis, it feels like just yesterday that we were in the hospital desperately trying to hold it together, watching our son connected to every machine, fighting for his life.
Having Carter diagnosed in November, which is Diabetes Awareness Month, makes this 1 year anniversary that much more complex.
This year has been a whirlwind of activity, and learning, and monitoring. When I think back to his time last year, I knew nothing about Type 1 Diabetes, and today I know more about this disease that inflicts my son and tries its best to push my family around, on an unwanted intimate level.
This year, I find November to be a double-edged sword. I am grateful for the awareness and the advocacy, I do my best to advocate on behalf of my now two-year-old son, yet I also find my heart break a little more each and every day throughout November. Maybe it is because the wound is still fresh, and lately all I can think of is what was happening this time last year.
These memories I know will fade, and I will be able to steadfastly view our accomplishments, but these days, those accomplishments are shrouded in pain.
I remember watching my son suffer for a week thinking he was fighting a virus, getting thinner and more gaunt with each passing day. I remember how small he looked in the huge hospital bed, barely visible under all the wires and life support he was connected to.
I remember the last look my son gave me was pained, and though he was only 17-months-old and couldn’t speak, his eyes screamed help me. I remember rushing home to pack our bags, and hearing the helicopter that carried our critical son across the sky to the children’s hospital, watching my then 4-year-old daughter run to window to yell goodbye to her brother, and feeling so helpless.
I remember the PICU, and the 3 days where Carter’s future were classified under “maybe.” Being told by the nursing staff to go across the street and get some rest, and my husband and I refusing to leave our son’s side. I remember finally being moved down to the pediatric floor, and the expectations I had, expecting Carter to spring out of bed and run around, and devour food. I still recall the devastation I felt when that didn’t happen.
I remember having to place my son in a wagon in order to get him around while in the hospital, since he had a central line that started at his groin and went up to his heart, that once removed hindered his movement for 2 weeks because of bruising and pain.
I remember with each minute of training, watching what our life used to be, becoming a distant memory. I recall wracking my brain for what we did different with Carter than Ashleigh, that inflicted him with this, even amid the proof and reassurance of the endocrinology team that we didn’t do anything wrong.
The feelings of helplessness, failure, anger, frustration, fear, exhaustion, I remember all of these so clearly. Watching my son squirm and cry when someone with scrubs would walk into the room, having to push my fear aside in order to comfort my son.
I remember leaving, after a week in the hospital, and watching Carter’s elation at life being what it used to. Looking out the window and excitedly waving goodbye to the building that tortured and poked him multiple times a day for a week, and then arriving home and having the torture continue.
But having been through all of that, I remember about a week after we’d been home and “adjusted” to our new life, I distinctly remember my son’s laughter which I hadn’t heard for well over a month. I valued it more than I had before.
I realize that without that week of hell, and a crash course that overwhelmed me, I wouldn’t have my son. So instead of having to rely on memories, I am blessed with the joy of watching my son persevere.
So while the month of November has been hard on me this year, I realize the importance of the advocacy, and the educational opportunities for all through the stories of sorrow and tenacity.
But most of all, I clearly see how God protected my son and my family through this 2 week span in November of 2013, and kept us safe, throughout the ignorance that shrouded my judgment and kept my son alive, and guided me to get him the help he needed to survive.