Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Type 1 Diabetes; A Change in Lifestyle; Not the End of Childhood Fun!

The Characters of my Life

Since I'm on break for the holidays, I've decided to write a bit more, and I may try to write about two times per week. This coming semester I will have a less stressful semester than the last, which will give me more time. I'm excited to write more, and even from a young age, I wanted to write for magazines, and write my own novels. When I was in middle school, I applied to write for a magazine, but, unfortunately I was declined :( My dad bought me a used computer, so I could write to hearts content. I remember spending hours typing away, sometimes late into the night. I wrote down biographies about all my characters, and got wrapped up in trying to perfect everything about the story. Now days, I write about the real characters and events of my life!

Our Lives Changed

A little over a year ago, our world changed, and there was nothing we could have done to prevent this change. When our son, Isaac, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes September 20, 2012, we had no idea what type 1 diabetes was. Sure, we’d heard of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), but didn’t know there was much of a difference between type 1 and the other types of diabetes. We were in for a world of change!

That morning in September, I had called the day before about some of the symptoms for type 1 diabetes, which Isaac had been exhibiting. For a few weeks prior, one of Isaac’s daycare teachers had kind of been hinting about the extremity of some of the symptoms. I remember being in Isaac’s classroom, and in the course of about 10 minutes, he had gone to the drinking fountain about 5 or 6 times! In the middle of the night, before he was diagnosed, I remember walking into his bedroom and seeing 12 (yes, I counted) cups of water, with straws, lined up on his dresser! His extreme thirst was his body’s way of telling him that he needed to get rid of the excess sugars, and ketones, that were building up in his blood stream.

When we eat, our bodies, specifically the pancreas, produce insulin, which acts like a key to our cells, allowing our cells to open their doors to utilize the sugar from the food we eat. In type 1 diabetics, the cells of the pancreas that produce insulin have been destroyed. So, without insulin, the body can’t get the energy from the food, the body slowly starves. It does utilize the fat stores, but this process produces ketones, which are toxic. There are theories as to why the insulin-producing cells are destroyed, such as contracting a virus, but, unfortunately, there is no way to prevent it, or predict a diagnosis based on the presence or absence of diabetes in the family.

Last year, sitting in the doctor’s office, we had no idea what to expect. I was a mix of emotions, which didn’t help when the doctor almost couldn’t believe our suspicions, because Isaac didn’t look sick! We’ve always struggled with getting Isaac to gain weight, as he’d always been in the lower percentile of growth. When the doctor had Isaac pee in a cup, Isaac thought it was the coolest thing. The doctor took the urine sample, and was gone for what seemed like hours, although it was only about 20 minutes. Isaac wasn’t worried about the results, but I couldn’t stop thinking about it!

To the Hospital!

When the doctor returned, he informed us of the news, and what the next steps were. Our appointment began at 8:30 am that Thursday morning, and we were in the hospital by 9:00 am. The severity of the results dictated a call to swift action! If you (yes, diabetes can occur in people of all ages) or your child have extreme thirst, extreme needs to urinate, or are always feeling hungry (no matter how much you eat), you might want to schedule a doctor’s appointment to check for type 1 diabetes.

Our stay at the hospital was full of a lot of scary and new experiences. We were very thankful that Isaac was diagnosed when he was, because many people after a diagnosis have to be put on an IV, but Isaac didn’t need one. Ketoacidosis, the extreme production of those ketones (from fats being broken down) poisons the body, and that is why many newly diagnosed type 1 diabetics must be on an I.V.. The doctor was sure that, if we had waited another week, Isaac probably would have been in much worse shape.

My husband was already at work, so I wasn’t able to reach him with the news. Isaac and I spent the next few hours being deeply exposed to what our new life was going to look like. It was basically a crash course in how to keep Isaac alive and healthy. He was poked probably close to 100 times in the 2 days that we were in the hospital. Many of those times were spent trying to get enough blood from his fingers to test his blood glucose. And most of those times were stressful, as they were full of a lot of tears!
Thankfully my parents were able to come be with us while we were in the hospital, and after my husband got off work, he was able to join us, as well.

The staff at the hospital was nothing but accommodating, and helped to alleviate Isaac’s pains through multiple trips to the treasure box. Isaac spent a lot of time running down the hall, and playing with the bed controls. Isaac, thankfully, has no ill memories of being in the hospital during that time! When we went home, Friday evening, he wanted to go back to the hospital. We were still so new at everything-counting carbohydrates to make sure that we gave Isaac the right amount of insulin, drawing and giving the insulin, even checking in blood sugar was still difficult!

It's a Learning Experience
Now, over a year later, people constantly comment on how calm we are about the whole situation with Isaac's type 1 diabetes. Well, we’ve kept him alive, healthy, growing, and as cute as ever, for the past year, haven’t we, so why shouldn’t we be calm? We’ve seen some pretty low lows, and some pretty high highs, but through it all, he’s getting better. No, there’s no cure, but we can take the best care of him, and instill in him the importance of taking good care of himself.

Thank you God, for bringing us this far, and for taking care of us the whole way, no matter how difficult at times this journey has been! And thank you for all the supportive individuals You have placed in our lives!

No comments:

Post a Comment