Today is day 3 of the Diabetes Blog Week. If you would like to learn more go to: http://www.bittersweetdiabetes.com/ Today’s topic relates to how we cope as parents of a child with a chronic illness, for us it’s type 1 diabetes. It is an emotional journey for sure, starting with the diagnosis.
We diagnosed Joey at home, my daughter’s son Cooper has type 1, since age 22 months. Because I was going to be attending an event with her to keep an eye on my grandson, I thought I better practice testing blood sugar, since my grandson was a baby, we didn’t want to practice on him. When we asked Joey if I could test him, he said “NO WAY!” So we did as any good parent would do, we bribed him. Thank God he agreed to be tested, because his blood sugar was 466! (And we thank God often.)
Emotionally, that day was almost to much for me. I’ve come to my breaking point a couple of times, that was one of them. You see, my 8 year old son watched his 22 month old nephew go through the diagnosis of type 1 diabetes. He curiously watched as my daughter would dose Cooper every time he ate. He had a pretty good idea of what type 1 was all about. In an 8 year old’s mind, it meant one thing: SHOTS!
My first emotion was Fear, fear that he would get sick like Cooper did, we almost lost him. This all happened on Mother’s Day, so it was a Sunday, right in the midst of the H1N1 flu epidemic of 2009. Then came the Anxiety: I called my friend Bill, who is a pediatrician, to get his advice on what to do right then and there. Do we go to the hospital? Do we wait? How sick is he? Relief for a brief moment when he said to stay away from the flu infected hospital, could do more damage if we went there.
Ironically the very next day was Joey’s 8 year Dr. appointment. Since my friend Bill was at the same Pediatric office as Joey’s doctor, he talked to her the very next morning to fill her in on what was happening. So after his physical, she had the nurse come in and take a blood measurement. I took a deep breathe, probably the deepest breath I have ever taken, and held back the tears. In that moment I felt despair. How am I going to look him in the face and tell him that he has type 1 diabetes, like his nephew? Can I hold back the tears??
The Dr. came in, and Joey looked at her and said, Do I have diabetes? So darn brave! And she said “yes, yes you do.” I felt sick. She gave us instructions to report to Children’s Endocrine clinic that very next day to start classes, Classes! I remember these classes, I sat through them when my grandson was diagnosed, and I was so confused then. Will I get it this time? A class, I need a class to learn how to take care of my son, can I do this? I felt doubtful, but determined.
That was 5 years ago. I rarely get emotional about type 1 anymore. In the beginning I would cry a lot, in the privacy of my car. I didn’t want Joey to see me crying because how would that make him feel! But tonight for some reason when I checked him at 2:15 am, the sick feeling that I used to get came back. His blood sugar number was 457! Dangerously high!
Turns out his pod reservoir was low on insulin. There wasn’t enough to even give him a correction for the high BS. So I had to wake him -fully – so he could change his pod. This also meant that his body wasn’t getting the insulin every hour that it should have been. Hence the high blood sugar number. As I sat next to him on his bed while he changed the pod, and then proceeded to give him a shot to get his blood sugar down, I had to hold back the tears, once again, I felt an overwhelming bit of sadness, I held off the tears, until I got to my bed!
Sadness is the overall feeling that I get when I do get emotional. Sad when he is sitting at the top of the snow hill, because his blood sugar is to low to sled with this friends, sad when he is on the sidelines of one of his basketball or football games, Sad because he loves those sports, and hates being on the sidelines.
I get scared when Joey gets sick. Scared that we’ll end up in the hospital with ketones. I am scared at night, that if I don’t wake up at 2:00 to check him, his blood sugar will either be to high, or to low. I am scared when I can’t see his face under his football helmet to tell if he is sweating like he does when his blood sugar is to low.
Day to day I feel joy, when I look at Joey and the see the wonderful, healthy teenager he has become, it brings me joy. I love that he’s sassy, sweet, kind, and loving. So even though I go through the gambit of emotions regarding my son having a chronic illness, it’s all good. Do we long for a cure, of course, and one day it will happen! We have to stay optimistic, to get through each day. And when that day comes when there is a cure: then we’ll be Happy!