To get Type 1 Diabetes, you must be pre-disposed. Your body must already be programmed to have this auto-immune disorder. It's not contagious; it's self-involved. The body's immune system stands at the ready to attack and destroy the beta-cells (the insulin-producing) cells in the pancreas. Usually this attack is triggered by some event: a sickness, a virus, etc. It sets off this chain of events to attack the beta-cells and, overtime, lead to failure to produce insulin and cause blood sugar levels to rise dangerously high.
To a parent of a Type 1 child, I find myself haunted by this fact-- that some life event triggered my son's beta-cells to be attacked. I find myself rummaging through my brain trying to remember each and every time Michael was sick-- to see if I could put my finger on when his beta-cells stopped working.
Overall, Michael was a healthy child. A fun-loving energetic, happy, inquisitive little boy. He hardly ever had any colds. In fact, I NEVER had to take him to the doctor's office for a sick visit, only for his well-child visits.
The only thing I can think of was in the spring when I got a bad cold. This cold brought a runny nose, a cough, sore throat, migraines etc. I ended up taking a day off of work because of this cold. And since my boys are young and still dependent on their mommy and daddy for care, it wasn't like I could keep away from them. I hated the thought of sharing a sickness with them and I knew it was inevitable that they would both get it. And they did. They got over it rather quickly, but it haunts me to this day to think that I caused this in my son.
If I could have just stayed away, not been in such close contact, would my son have diabetes right now or would we have been able to put it off for a few years?
But that might have made his life harder if that was so. Getting Type 1 Diabetes at nearly 2 years old is a life-changer, no doubt. But maybe it's better that he got this at such a young age. He won't remember life pre-diabetes. This will be all he knows. And although that's a blessing in disguise, it's still hard on the heart to think that a two-year old knows what insulin injections are and has to get them multiple times a day.
Just this past weekend, while playing outside with my boys, I realized that Michael was giving me pretend insulin injections with sticks. He would poke my thigh with a stick and say "1, 2, 3, all better!" Or "1, 2, 3, all clean!" My heart hurt. Insulin injections were so much a part of his life that he incorporated them into his playtime.
It haunts me to think about the exact moment in time when he got diabetes. I even had a hard time sorting through the pictures on my phone to find the last few pictures taken before he was diagnosed. I wanted to see if I could see it. Could I see the signs of diabetes on his face? I found out that the answer was yes. Yes I could. He was so thin, so tired. But at the time, I didn't know what to look for. Now I see it as clear as day.
When Michael was in the car with us on our way to the Children's Hospital ER, we received the call that the lab work showed his blood sugar was 823. As a mom, I'll never forget that number. I'll also never forget the date of diagnosis: August 11, 2014. After learning what DKA is and how utterly serious it is, I was overwhelmed. I still am when I think about how narrowly Michael escaped a coma or death. Children with blood sugars in the 600's and 700's are life-flighted to hospitals. Some children end up in a coma first. Some die. The odds of being diagnosed before the second birthday is one in 3 million. The odds of being diagnosed without first being in a coma or having a seizure is even more rare. It haunts me to wonder how close Michael was to dying.
These are real fears and questions floating around in my mind as the parent of a Type 1 child. I know it's unnecessary to wonder about the "what ifs" of life. But it's not futile. Doing so helps me process our situation and it also helps me look at what the negatives in a "what if" situation could be. The "what if" world isn't perfect. Just because we might wish that something in our lives would have happened differently, it doesn't mean that the alternate scenario would be without problems. This helps me accept our situation the way that it happened and to realize that this was God's perfect plan for us. He chose August 11th for us.
On August 11, 2012, Aaron & I attended a pregnancy & labor class just seventeen days before Michael made his arrival. On August 11, 2013, we went to church and spoke with church friends about what their guesses to our second baby's gender would be since we'd be finding out a couple days later. We were also ready for our first family flying trip to visit Aaron's family. Michael would be having two different "first" birthday parties on our trip. We were excited to embark on that journey. We didn't know that the time bomb was ticking. On August 11, 2014, Michael was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes and our lives changed again forever.
I know that Diabetes is a part of Michael's story and a part of his testimony. When I view it like that, I realize that we have not been abandoned by God in any of this. I'm reminded that He will remain by our sides through all of this because it's His perfect plan for Michael.
So, Diabetes, I accept you. You are now part of what makes up my oldest son. You are here to stay and I must be okay with that. I pledge to try my hardest every single day to keep you in check so that your effect on my son is minimal. Although I accept you in his life, I will not let him or us be ruled by you.
I love you immensely and I think you are simply the bravest boy. I'm proud of you and how you are handling your new routines in life. You are stellar! I am proud to be your mom.
I love you forever,
Until next time,
Much love, Reba