While I sat in the car with Michael at our house while Aaron ran inside to get the dog, my meds, and our whole lock box so I could get Michael's birth certificate and social security card on our way to Aaron's mom's house, the pediatrician called with Michael's blood sugar level. It was 823.
We quickly pulled into my mother in law's driveway. Aaron took our dog inside their house so that they could later take him down to my parents' house. My mother in law brought out Michael's ninja turtles suitcase filled with some of his favorite toys. We were told by our pediatrician not to grab any diapers or clothes-- that children's hospital would have diapers. Arrangements were made for Aaron's stepdad and our church associate pastor and dear friend to go get Aaron's car which was still parked at the lab in Prattville. My mother in law held out Noah to us so that we could give him kisses and hugs before we left. It broke my heart to leave him. After all, Michael didn't spend the night away from us until he was over a year old. Noah was having to do it at 7 months. Fortunately, my mother in law had spare formula, baby food, diapers and clothes for him. So I knew he'd be good for a few days.
We hit the road running. I sat in the backseat with Michael. Aaron drove. Andrew, Aaron's brother, called us on our way and we talked to him through the car. I grabbed the crocheted baby blanket that i keep in the car and i shoved it in Michael's suitcase. I also grabbed a stuffed animal dog and put it in the suitcase as well. We found our way to the children's hospital emergency room and they had free valet parking for patients. What a blessing.
I registered Michael while Aaron kept him entertained walking around the sparsely populated emergency room. Michael's diaper needed a change. But we didn't have any diapers.
Soon we were called back to triage. Michael was uncooperative. The sweet nurses tried to offer him stickers but that didn't work. We figured a diaper change might help. We asked for diapers and explained that we were told not to bring any. Michael wore size 5. In the ER, the biggest size they had was 4. Michael fit. I was amazed.
After unsuccessful attempts at getting vital signs and weight, we were moved to an exam room. The exam room experience was a whirlwind. We had two nurses in there going over how much insulin to give Michael through an IV. We had multiple doctors (at least 3 at different times) come in and we had to relay our story to each one. Michael's blood sugar was checked again. It didn't register on their machine either-- it was too high. I told them we got a reading of 823 from the Montgomery lab. The nurses had to insert an IV into Michael's right hand. Two young men appeared at the door. I knew what they were there for. They were there to hold Michael down. Since Aaron and I were present, only one of the young men had to stay because Aaron & I would be able to help hold down our own son. Having had IVs during the deliveries of both my children, I knew what they felt like and I hated them. Everything in me ached for this little boy who had to have one. I held his feet. The young man held his arms. Aaron stood at his head and we tried to distract him. I would have taken his place in a millisecond. And I still would. Once the IV was in, and after they got some blood work, we could hold Michael, and his attitude was better.
We were given a pack of size 5 diapers. His diaper needed changing-- again.
We were told Michael was not in DKA. We were told that they were still deciding if they were going to admit him to the hospital. Later, we were told that they read the blood work wrong. Michael was in DKA and they would have to admit him. (The next day, we actually found out what DKA was, and I understand now why they don't tell you what it is and how serious it is on the first day)
Eventually we got to move up to the special care floor. We had to be there since Michael was in DKA and had to have insulin through an IV. The nurse told us she'd have to draw lots of labs through the night. She said she could either stick him each time, or she could do another IV in his opposite hand and draw the labs that way. Although we hated to do this to him, and my stomach churned, we knew that it was best for him to get another IV so that he could get some chance of rest overnight if he could sleep through the blood work. We held him down again and this nurse did an awesomely fast IV. Thank you, Jesus!
That night, we watched Cars, Planes, and A Bug's Life, off and on while we held Michael on our laps in the recliner. He slept through most of the lab work overnight which was a blessing. Aaron and I switched up who would hold him in the recliner and who would try to catch 40 winks on the tiny couch. Aaron asked for scrubs for me since my shirt had been peed on twice. We knew we'd get clothes brought to us the next day from my mother in law. (It's quite humbling to tell someone where your underwear is kept, and where your shirts and sweatpants are).
I changed into a scrub shirt and we continued our night.
The next morning, Aaron ran down to the gift shop to buy a shirt for Michael, and a better-fitting shirt for myself. He returned with a cute "Children's Hospital" shirt for Michael and a bedazzled Auburn shirt for me. I love my husband through and through. Michael's endocrinologist came to meet us. He is so upbeat and polite and was astounded that I called diabetes "manageable" and he said "you're exactly right. It is." He asked why I said it was manageable. I told him that I had an Aunt who was diagnosed with Type I as a child. He says "Shut up!" which brought smiles from everyone in the room. He is a super great doctor and many many many people enjoy working with him and feel like they are heard and feel like their children are getting phenomenal care. I get to join the ranks of those people.
Michael finally got to eat a meal. We had to have him out of DKA before he could eat. At 8:00am, he was able to eat low-carb pancakes and scrambled eggs.
My in-laws arrived with Noah and with changes of clothes for Aaron, Michael, and me. I got to take a shower and felt so much better! My parents arrived soon after.
Shortly after that, one of the Diabetes Educators came in. The grandfathers took Noah to the waiting room, my mom watched Michael, and Aaron, Claudia and I spent the rest of our day learning about Diabetes Type I and all of the rigors that go along with the disease. We gave fake insulin injections to a patch of fake skin. We tested out the blood glucose lancet-device and checked our own blood glucose levels. We poured over the pamphlets and books and tried to be coherent when none of us had gotten much sleep within the past 24 hours.
Around 4:00pm, we were moved from the Special Care floor to the Endocrine floor. About this time, family members left and it was the three of us again. We had a phenomenal view from our window of Birmingham. Michael liked to climb on the window sill and peer down down down at the street more than 9 stories below us.
The next morning, the endocrinologist came by again. He told us we would get to go home that afternoon as long as the Diabetes Educator thought it was ok. This was a day early in my mind but I longed to get out of there and get back to my son's comfort zone of his own house and own bed and own toys. Shortly after the endocrinologist left, my in laws arrived. They had dropped off Noah at my parents house earlier that morning. My father-in-law kept Michael entertained while the Diabetes Educator came back and spent the morning teaching us more about this disease. The Social Worker then came in to talk about their role in the "new normal" of our lives. Then the nutritionist arrived and we talked about the diet needs of a toddler who loves carbs with every fiber of his being, is diabetic and allergic to strawberries.
The Diabetes Educator brought us our prescriptions for all of the supplies Michael would need. The hospital had a pharmacy, but they didn't supply insulin there. So my father-in-law took the prescriptions for insulin and got them filled. Aaron went down to the pharmacy to fill what he could of the rest of them-- the pharmacy was out of a lot of stuff. The next day we would get the remaining prescriptions filled at our local pharmacy.
We made special provisions for Michael to eat supper in the hospital so that we could get one last tutorial of checking his blood sugar and giving him his insulin before we hit the road for our hour and a half car ride. We had a bag of ice brought to us so that we could keep the unopened insulin cold on our ride home. Once in the car, Michael fell asleep nearly instantaneously. He knew we were on our way home.
This is a good stopping place for now. I'll post pictures of Michael's hospital visit soon.
Thanks for taking the time to read this super long post of my thoughts as a mom. I'm still overwhelmed at times with the relentlessness of this disease. If I could bear this burden myself and remove it from Michael, I would do so in a heartbeat. I'll continue to blog about our journey, if not for Michael's sake when he's older, then possibly for the sake of some other family with a toddler who is diagnosed. There's so little out there for these young ones. If I can share the little info we are gathering here and there, I would hope that it would help some other family out there who might be reading this.