Our family’s journey with diabetes began on a Friday afternoon in November 2008.
My husband & I were getting ready to take our son, who was just shy of 21 months old at the time, to the doctor. Our main concern was that he had been drinking excessively, which in turn had him completely wetting through diapers in very short periods of time. On top of that, he had also been quite irritable for months, and had been sleeping more frequently. The night before we took him into the doctor, he had a strange incident where he vomited after dinner and was very lethargic after doing so. He only vomited once and it did not appear to be a stomach illness or food related- there seemed to be no explanation. All of these symptoms were a slow progression; they did not pop up all at once overnight. However, by the time we decided to take him in, it had become quite obvious to both my husband and I that something just wasn’t right.
Before we left our house, I hopped onto WebMD and typed in his symptoms. One of the conditions that immediately came up was type 1 diabetes. My husband and I read a brief description of what diabetes entails (both of us had heard of diabetes before, but knew very little about the disease) and looked up at one another with grim faces. Even though our son was displaying textbook symptoms, according to this website, we didn’t really think there was any way that is what we were dealing with. There was no way our perfect little baby boy, who had never had an illness more severe than a cold, had type 1 diabetes.
We walked into the clinic doors, not knowing that the next time we walked out of them our lives would be forever changed. I was nervous for the appointment, but was also to the point where I was just desperate to get some answers and an explanation for what had been going on with our little boy, no matter what those answers might be.
We were called back to a room. We were asked a lot of questions by the nurse and we gave the synopsis of our concerns. The doctor came in and ordered a blood test and a urine sample. Even though the nurse and doctor were already probably suspecting diabetes, we were oblivious to that fact.
The urine sample was no easy task, as Carson was still in diapers at the time so we had to put one of those urine bags on him and hope that he went and that we could catch some urine before it spilled into his diaper. While we waited for that to happen they performed the blood test, which caused a full on toddler meltdown. Seeing him so upset from that had me quite rattled. Little did I know then, that was just the very beginning.
Looking back now, much of that visit is a little fuzzy for my memory. That is probably because there was a 30 second period of time during that visit that took center stage. A full 30 seconds where it felt like the earth had stopped spinning. I felt like I was one of those cartoons being sucked into a tornado, screaming for help but no one could hear me. Those 30 seconds is when our doctor came in and I could tell by his face that something was off. He asked if we were able to obtain the urine sample and we hadn’t yet and reported that. He said that was ok. My mind was going 900 miles a minute…why was that ok? It was ok, because he had already gotten all of the information he needed from the blood test results. Carson’s blood sugar was so high the clinic meters couldn’t even read it…our little boy had type 1 diabetes.
While clutching onto my little boy sitting in my lap, I immediately broke down, and probably asked very stupid questions as my body instantly went into a state of shock. What did this mean for him? Would he have it forever? Was it something surgery could fix? What do I need to do to help my little boy? Again, we knew very little about diabetes.
We were told that Carson would need to be monitored in the hospital for a few days in order to start treatment, and figure out what kind of insulin regimen would be needed for him. We left the clinic and contacted family members. Our families would probably tell you that our hysterical phone calls to them will forever be engrained in their memories.
We ended up spending 3 nights in the hospital. During that time we learned a wealth of information about diabetes and everything we needed to know to care for Carson. We both learned how to give him his insulin injections (4 a day). Even all of these years later I can still say giving him that first injection was easily one of the hardest things I have ever had to do.
Once we became more educated about diabetes and the evolving technologies for treatment, we started earnestly looking into insulin pumps. We made an appointment with a new endocrinologist who was very much a “pro pump” user. By the end of February 2009, Carson was on an insulin pump. It was a complete answer to prayers and helped us gain more control over our toddler’s diabetes management.
This is just the story surrounding his diagnosis. There have been many highs and lows since then, both figuratively and literally, and I expect no less in the future. I read this quote once and I absolutely love it and find it to be especially fitting when reflecting on his diagnosis: “Remember…diabetes is a word, not a sentence.”