On January 24, 2012 somewhere around 3:30 in the afternoon, my world changed. (I know, a little dramatic, but true!) I had noticed that Medium had been peeing, a lot. He has always been a kid who drank a lot and then peed a lot. But this was excessive. I hadn’t really noticed that he had been drinking more because he is old enough to get his own drinks and kind of do his own thing. I, being an avid diet Coke drinker, had decided that I was going to make it a point to drink more water. We actually had a contest going at work. Because of all of the water I was drinking, I was also peeing a lot. So every time I got up in the middle of the night to go, I noticed that he had gotten up also.
Then one night I paid close attention and realized that he was waking up and peeing every hour at night. This was alarming. I realize now that I knew then. My husband’s sister had been a type 1 since she was 4 and so I knew that my kids were predisposed to developing it and it was always on my radar. It was just a blip on the radar, I didn’t really think it would ever happen, but it was always there in the back of my mind. So I think that deep down I actually knew what was happening. But other than the frequent urination he didn’t seem to have any symptoms other than he had gotten really skinny. But he was a very active 10 year-old boy, so that in and of itself, was not alarming. He didn’t look or act sick (he had a little bit of a cold, but nothing out of the ordinary). Having worked in the Emergency Room for so long, I knew what DKA was and that is what I would have expected to see. So, while I was alarmed, I didn’t rush him in anywhere.
In a weird twist of fate that I will forever be grateful for, his little brother, Small, had been fighting a high fever and stomach ache for 2 days so when I called to make him an appointment with our pediatrician, I asked if they could fit them both in. And I actually told the gal on the phone that if they couldn’t get them both in then I would just bring Small because he was sicker. I shudder to think what would have happened if Small hadn’t been sick or they couldn’t see them both at the office that day. I am certain that we would have done what most everyone else does and waited until he got REALLY sick. A mother’s intuition.
So there we were. Medium was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. Actually, it’s kind of funny. (Not funny “ha ha”, but funny “strange”). No one actually diagnosed him with anything, out loud anyway. It wasn’t until the next day in the hospital when I had to come right out and ask someone, “does this mean Medium has diabetes?” I mean, I knew he did. I knew he did the minute the pediatrician said Medium had glucose and ketones in his urine and we needed to do a blood test. And just in case I wasn’t sure then, I certainly was when one of the lab tech’s said to the other lab tech (this sounds like a punchline to a joke, but I assure you, T1D is no joke) “wow, that’s high!” She was referring to Medium’s blood glucose level of 565 mg/dL. Although I am not a nurse, I had worked in an ER for 9 years, so I knew that you don’t get a blood sugar reading that high for any other reason, but, as a mother, there is that part of you that holds on to the ever-so-slight-albeit-still-there hope that maybe, JUST MAYBE, it is something else. Something else that is not so horrible, not so life altering, not so dangerous, not so…..permanent.
But I would be wrong. The answer to my question was, quite simply, “yes, Medium has diabetes.” And so there it was. Ironically, it was the dietician that told me, not the endocrinologist or the diabetes educator or the nurse. Medium was laying in the hospital bed and she was standing on one side of him and I was standing on the other, and her words just hung in the air over him. I swear I could almost see them, the words, “Medium has diabetes” dangling over him. I wanted to reach out and grab them and shove them back in her mouth or throw them in the trash can or beat the crap out of them Office Space style . I just didn’t want them. Period. But they were out there and there was nothing I could do about it.
The next couple of days in the hospital were full of education for my husband and I and playtime for Medium. We met with the diabetes educator and dietician each day for several hours to learn all about type I diabetes, counting carbs and insulin. Because we caught Medium’s diabetes before he got really sick, he just laid around and played Xbox from his hospital bed and played basketball in the playroom at the hospital. I think I went into “Warrior Mom” mode. Here all the information was being thrown at us, and we were in the hospital and my husband was going home at night to take care of our two other boys, and I had this “I am woman, hear me roar, I can handle anything” attitude. Oh my how this would change.