Thursday, July 28, 2011
Three years ago today, Samuel's life changed permanently--and therefore ours did too. It was the day that my boy, my precious and sweet child, was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.
It was a complete shock, and Howard and I were like deer in headlights (Howard even more than I knew at the time). Sam had been increasingly lethargic over the weekend, and complaining of weak legs. He looked very thin. But: it was summer, and we thought he was just growing, logey from the heat...and whiney. Howard (keen eye that he has) noticed that our boy was going through periods of rapid deep breathing. But, we thought it was simply some little thing, and I even felt silly for having decided to take Samuel to the pediatrician that Monday morning. After that, we were supposed to spend a special "Mum and Samuel" day together.
Instead, by noon, we were at the emergency department at Children's Hospital, having him admitted. He was already a very sick little boy, in ketoacidosis. He ended up with IVs in both of his arms, and for a couple of days he was in semi-intensive care. My boy, who wasn't even born in a hospital, was terrified. At first he fought every single injection and blood sugar test. He begged to go home so that he wouldn't have to have shots anymore. It broke our hearts that going home wouldn't change that at all. But, insulin shots were going to keep the boy alive so, damnit, I was going to figure it out with him.
I can't even begin to thank all the friends, family, and colleagues who helped us through that first week or two. So many people listened to and comforted us; several shared stories of loved ones with Type 1 diabetes who lived long, healthy lives. I loved those stories then, and I still do.
It's hard, now, to remember what life was like "pre-diabetes." It's such an important thing that it quickly became routine. Samuel was so brave: within a few months, he was testing his own blood sugar. The school nurse was incredible, encouraging him and caring for him and keeping lines of communication open with us. Our team at Children's Hospital is superb. The kids' after-school program coordinators took initiative to make sure that all the staff there knew how to help Samuel. I'd like to think that we've done okay by the boy, too.
But, in the end: it's Samuel who has made all the difference, who has done the work to remain healthier than most kids without chronic conditions. He's an amazing kid. I know that I couldn't face that inset every couple of days:
It breaks my heart that, short of a cure, he will never have a day free of this--of consciously thinking about carbohydrates and insulin and blood glucose levels--for the rest of his life. But, every day when I open my eyes, I am thankful for insulin. I am thankful for the fact that my kid got a condition that he can live with--without terrible pain, without limitations on what he can do. He can have a long, full, active, rich life.
So, while I still hope for a cure someday, I appreciate today.
Three years and counting. I love you, Sam. You are one heck of a special kid.