1 year ago today was one of the worst days of my life. My then 8 year old son, Jack was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. My daughter Annabelle was diagnosed 3 years ago, when she was 4. With no family history of diabetes on my husband's or my side it was a huge shock. This week, I went to a wake for a friend who was only 46 years old and during the eulogy I was told how the deceased was given valuable and comforting advice to always be forging ahead. In an attempt to keep moving forward I have decided to share Jack's "diagnosis story", here it goes:
My husband and I had been in NYC for the weekend celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary and our three kids, Jack, Annabelle and Charlie were staying with my dad and step mom in West Hartford. My husband, John, and I returned to the house and the kids had just come home from lunch and soccer games. Jack came in and poured a glass of water and my dad said, "theres my thirsty boy." My stomach dropped, I inquired about what he meant and asked if he had also been going to the bathroom a lot? On cue Jack ran to the bathroom. Its very easy to confirm or deny a diagnosis of type 1 diabetes especially when there is a diabteic in the house. All you have to do is prick his finger and test his blood in one of Annabelle's many glucometers. We had to test Jack about 18 months prior while skiing and it was tramatic to say the least, and just 2 weeks before his diagnosis I needed a nurse to help restrain him for his flu shot; Jack (unlike Annabelle) is terrified of needles. We decided we would check Jack in his sleep that night. I headed to the gym to work with Charlie and on the way I called Laura and told her how I was nervous about Jack but we both agreed it was probably an overreaction.
At that moment, another call came in and it was from John. I just knew it was not good news. I was at a stop light and I picked up and he said, "its going to be OK but you need to come home, we have to go to the hospital, I tested Jack and the meter just said HIGH" (this indicated a blood glucose level over 600) normal (non-fasting) blood glucose for a kid Jack's age is 80-140. I pulled the car over, got out and screamed like a f&*%ing crazy person, I scared poor Charlie to death (who was in the back seat) and Laura (who was still on the phone). I still make all attempts to avoid driving by this street off Trout Brook and often drive an extra 5-10 minutes out of my way on Quaker rather than reliving that moment.
I drove home, picked up Jack, John, pop pop and the Ipad. Jack's first words to me with tears running down his face were, "Maybe it is type 2 diabetes, there is a cure for that one." I think people expected it to be easier the second time you get such crappy news, but its not. You know exactly what you are in for. It is also much harder to manage a chronic illness with an anxiety laden 8 year old boy deathly afraid of needles than it is a 4 year old laid back, easy going girl. I won't go in to detail regarding how he handled the insertion of the IV, the 10-12 blood sugar tests a day, and telling your kid that they need to get a shot every single time they want to eat....every day...for the rest of their lives.
Its been a tough year. We have watched Jack face so many fears, and it hasn't been easy on any of us. We have had to lie to his face when he has asked if he could die from a very low blood sugar. I have had to work on my patience when an insuln pump falls off exactly when I need to be at work and then have to calm down a child fearful of putting on another one. I don't sleep the night before they have blood work, not because I fear the results but rather my anxiety about how they will cope with the "big shot".
There is some good news, for one, I got to meet Brett Michaels at the JDRF gala. Seriously, the management and potenital life changing developments going on in the world of type 1 diabetes are exciting. This week, my kids started on continuous glucose monitors (CGM). Last night, I was awoken by an alarm at 4:00 am that Jack's blood sugar was 45. I don't want to think what would have happened if he was not wearing the CGM. We have met an amazing community of people and most importantly Jack has developed a wonderful set of coping skills. He has learned to deal with many of his anxieties and when we got his flu shot 2 weeks ago, he volunteered to go first. He has become strong and brave and I don't think he ever thought he was either of those things. I hate that a chronic life threatening disease had to be the thing to teach him these qualities, but it is a wonderful silver lining.
For more info on type 1 diabetes you can read my blog post from last year. http://wipfitness.com/blog/13919696
What Jack and Annabelle need is a cure and the best chance for a cure are donations. This month we will be having a JDRF fundraiser on Saturday November 22nd at WIP. The workouts will be free all morning, but you are STRONGLY encouraged to donate GENEROUSLY. There will be silent auction items at the gym all weekend for bidding. If you have something to donate for the auction, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are unable to attend the event but would like to donate please send a check to:
485 New Park ave
West Hartford, CT 06110
please make checks payable to JDRF
Thank You for your generousity,
Mary Kate Doyle