My child has Diabetes, now what? I remember having this question resounding over and over in my head as I walk through the cloud that engulfed me in the Emergency Room after the doctors diagnosed my son. My mind immediately went to needles, and blood checks and insulin. I was terrified, and overwhelmed, and watched my life as I knew it come crashing down around me. After our son was air lifted to a children’s hospital in San Diego, my husband and I had some time to attempt to digest the news we were just given. I cried more in that 24 hour period as we watched our son struggle in the PICU, then I have in my whole life. I remember having to leave my 4 year old with one of my sisters in order for us to be there for our son. I felt no matter what I did I was abandoning someone. Looking back at it all now, I am amazed at how once we become parents how resilient we really become. We didn’t crumble, we didn’t run from this like we wanted to, my husband and I dug our heels in and we fought. We fought for our son, for our family, and to find the strength we needed, to overcome this blow we were just given. Leaning heavily on my faith, I found peace throughout this experience, I know that I will never be alone. Though my days are riddled with frustration and anger and when I look at our situation and don’t see one shred of “fair” in it. I prayed for peace the moment this all began, and I have had just that. There are days when the struggle is great, but I always seem to find the strength to overcome. I believe that as parents we all have this magical ability. The majority of what we deal with as parents isn’t ideal, having a “sick” child is no different. Once the diagnosis settles in and the despair dissipates, as parents we find our new roles. All we really do is add to our title, we have always been caregivers, and nurturers, now we add nurse to our job description. With practice, the terror associated with administering shots disappears, and the strength we always have is pushed to the forefront. So if you are told that your child has Type 1 Diabetes, find comfort in your ability as a parent to rise above and know that you will find new found confidence in yourself that you never knew was there, and you will prove day by day why your child is lucky to call you Mom or Dad!
It’s amazing how overwhelmed I was when we were in the PICU with my son, hearing about needles, lancets, and test strips; A1C levels, and insulin. Two months in and I’m less overwhelmed and shocked at how much I actually know about Type 1 Diabetes. Some days I feel like I’ve been thrown in the deep end with Sharks circling as I fumble through the day anticipating my sons needs and doing my best to steer him away from a low or a massive high. These days, his diagnosis being not so long ago, I fondly remember the days of normalcy. The picture above was taken at our last trip to Disneyland pre-diagnosis, for his sisters fourth birthday in October 2013. How happy I thought he was, yet how crummy he must have felt. At times Diabetes feels so unforgiving, and there are days I can’t help but feel like I have failed him in everyway, after all he grew in my womb, what went wrong? I look at his angel face everyday and know that I would gladly take the place of his pancreas for as long as I need to in order to give him the best life he can have minus any complications. I work everyday to create a new “normal”, unfortunately the Disneyland trips these days revolve around Carter’s eating and shot schedules. I am blessed to have a four-year-old daughter who adores her brother and is patient through this transition. Though needles, lancets, and tests strips are an integral part of our day, I want my son to remember the joy and fun that each day of his life produces; for now, I want all the technicalities surrounding diabetes to fall on my shoulders. I am better suited to deal with the stress and uncertainties that this disease brings, I just want him to focus on growing up.
Having diabetes and the flu can be a scary thing. Since we just weathered through the flu in our house, I now look back the ordeal with an enlightened mind. This was the first “illness” that my son had post diagnosis and I will say that it wasn’t as scary as I thought it would be. In the hospital, when he was diagnosed, the nurses spent two whole days teaching my husband and I about sick day management. From checking blood sugars every two hours, to watching ketones with every diaper change, I was terrified of the first serious illness we were to encounter. My son ran a fever for 24 hours straight, and luckily was keeping fluids down. Then he threw up a few times and had diarrhea, all in all everything was OK. I monitored his blood glucose levels, which due to him fighting the bug were high, and monitored his ketones (he had only slight ketones present in his urine), beside those two factors it was like basic flu management. The one frustrating thing, I found, was the fact that his blood sugars were a lot higher. I’d be doing everything right, and he would still need 4 shots a day. It was hard to not feel discouraged, like I was doing something wrong. All in all, we made it through, and I must say the biggest thing I’ve gained after this diagnosis for my son, was a new found appreciation and respect for the Pancreas!
As I sit here remembering where we were 2 months ago, sitting in an ICU room with our son, terrified and desperately trying to digest the diagnosis of Type 1 Diabetes we were just given, I wonder why I don’t feel much better about the diagnosis. In my naiveté , I remember thinking how I wished for it to be one month from November 20, 2013 so that I would have a better grip on the diagnosis and be better adjusted to a life filled with insulin and injections for my son; yet here I sit 2 months later and I feel just as lost and frustrated as I did the day I found out that my son would live with this disease for the rest of his life. I live most days, waiting for the next blood check and doing my best to become acclimated to new signs my son may be giving off that he is either too high or too low. I find the hardest struggle these days, isn’t the needles, and the blood sugar checks, but the lack of language communication as he is only 19.5 months old. I wonder if it will be easier when he can tell me that his vision is blurry, or his feet tingle. Then I snap back into reality and realize that with every stage comes new challenges. I find that allowing myself the momentary disappointment and frustration, allows me to have better days over all. Knowing that no matter what is thrown at me I will get through it, affords me the moments when I need to be sad or angry. Feeling these raw emotions is normal, and dare I say it healthy, it’s how we move past them that counts. I know that through each struggle and trial, we are learning about the needs of my son. My hope is that once he starts talking things will get easier, but all in all, I know deep down that this beast of a disease will throw curve ball after curve ball. Truly, at the end of the day, it’s not how well I’ve managed his blood sugar that counts, the true victory is in how happy we are as a family, and the normalcy that we experience in spite of Diabetes.
I decided to start a blog about Diabetes after my son was diagnosed 2 months ago. It has been an interesting two months and I wanted to journal my experiences and share them with others who may be struggling with the same feelings. Please feel free to share your experiences and comment on the things I share. My hope is that through this blog, we can all come together and find solace, knowing we aren’t going through this jungle of Diabetes alone.