Friday, September 16, 2016

HOW MY SON'S DIABETES TAUGHT ME TO LAUGH AND ENJOY LIFE AGAIN

How many of you have a relative with a chronic illness? Our family was hit with one of these things recently…it came as a complete shock and still kind of feels weird if I think too hard about it even now almost two months later.

In January of 2016 my son came down with a cough…not a big deal, our family has allergies and with seven of us in the household most of the time, we spread germs like crazy. But then we got a tummy bug shortly after. My eight-year-old son seemed to recover from it pretty quickly but he just didn’t seem himself. He wasn’t crazy, active, making machine gun noises at every turn…he was just not the son I loved and was exasperated by (in a loving way ;)) every day anymore. He started to have some weird breathing and a slight fever so I took him to urgent care where they did tests. Strep was positive and influenza was not. He was breathing heavily but the doctor figured it would go away with antibiotics (he thought it was most likely pain induced).

We started our little man on the antibiotics with hopes that in a day or two he would be back to near normal. That didn’t happen. Three days later he was still lethargic and breathing too heavily and now he was throwing up everything we tried to give him. It was time to hit the ER.They got him into a room and the first thing they did (besides blood pressure/respirations etc.) was take blood. It came back quickly with results that shocked even the doctors. His blood sugar was 365 and his a1c blood gasses were 11+ which was the highest the doctor had seen in a child that age. I’ll never forget the words – “We believe your son is diabetic. He’s breathing so heavily to try to clear the bad stuff out of his blood stream.”

That was the beginning of a journey of fear, sadness, learning, and hope. Our son was hospitalized for four days to gradually bring his blood gasses and blood sugars down to normal levels so he wouldn’t suffer
brain damage. It was the hardest thing I’d ever done, seeing my strong little man laying there so sick and helpless. I’ll tell you, late on the second day when he started to fuss at the nurses and refuse to do stuff, I was the happiest Mama on the planet.

Our whole family learned how to care for him, how to give him shots, how to count carbs and how to figure out how much insulin he would need before every meal. This weighed heavily on all of us…it is a huge responsibility to take on and it hurt to know that our son would never quite be the same…for one, his dream of joining the military was now gone. Forever.

Over the next month, we all learned so much and he can even give himself shots and check his blood sugar. His school is fabulous with letting us know how he does throughout the day and with adjusting their way of doing things for him. After about two or three weeks out of the hospital, his numbers dropped and he didn’t need quite so much insulin. He was supposed to get a shot of long-lasting insulin once a day and then we had to give him a certain amount of fast acting for what his blood sugar number was and a certain amount for how many carbs he would be eating at the meal. All of a sudden we were only giving him his long lasting insulin and we have gradually reduced that dosage from ten to seven units. He hasn’t had fast acting in a month. We are by no means under the impression that he will always be like this. We know that someday his pancreas will stop working so well and we will be back to multiple shots a day. But for now, we will count our blessings and rejoice.

After all of this happened, I had a mini breakdown. I cried and felt sick every time I even thought about marketing my books. I could still write but I couldn’t do twitter/fb/tumblr or any other thing that would help me sell books. So, I took a break to regroup with my family.

Through all of this I never once thought I would want to laugh in concern to my son’s diabetes. But here we are two months later and we laugh a lot. We joke about how in other cases a mom wouldn’t be able to stab her son so much and get away with it. When I ask him to give me a finger to do the blood prick on and he gives me his middle finger we joke about how this is the only time he is allowed to flip me off. When his blood sugar is the same as our house number we have a good laugh and say we won’t be forgetting to tell his school nurse that one because it is so easy to remember. (My memory is horrible!)

We did it! We found things to be happy/silly/crazy about in the worst possible of situations. And I think because of this I am back to writing and marketing full time. I am actually enjoying it. My amazing little eight-year-old can check his own blood sugar, give himself his own shot, calculate his insulin (when he might need the extra boost) and calculate his own carbs. He even has certain foods’ carb counts memorized. Every day he amazes me with his strength, knowledge and ability to pick it up after a hard day and do it all over again the next. He is my inspiration. He is what will keep me going. He is the reason I will be able to write what I want, market until my brain explodes (I really don’t enjoy it), and keep doing it all as much as needed. If he can do the amazing, I can do what is needed to keep my readers knee deep in stories and make sure I do everything in my power to get the word out to new readers.

Maybe someday, if you are interested, I will tell you about the signs of diabetes and how it was possible to miss them all. Did you know that it is common to miss the symptoms of Type 1 diabetes in kids…Until next time!