I have been MIA from posting lately, and it can be summed up in one sentence: A mom’s work is never done. HA! How true is that phrase!
I was just trucking along, thinking “I got this shit”. I was juggling my husbands work schedule (with him only working Friday-Sunday nights, you would think it would be simple. But nay nay – he works a ton of overtime, and never says no when someone asks him to cover their shifts.. it is a blessing and a curse), handling my sons insane volleyball schedule, had things sorted for my 10 year old to start soccer, figured out our schedule for the older boys to start parkour in the new year, helping to plan and organize fundraising for the two older boys trip to Quebec City in April, and was planning my 4 year olds birthday party. Oh ya, and my job and volunteering, as well! The life of a mother is rarely dull.
One weekend, the weekend of my baby’s 4th birthday, actually, we spent at the boys school for our oldests volleball tournament. Me and the three boys were at the school until 9:30 at night, handing out food and treats in the concession, in between the games. My 10 year old had just had his immunizations on Friday, and wasn’t feeling so shit hot. I remember standing in my room on Friday night, after I had tucked everyone in, and called my husband in a puddle of tears “something is wrong with Jesse.. I just know it. I can’t handle him being sick. He can’t be sick” And he assured me nothing was wrong, and he was probably just sick from his shots. I calmed down enough to get some sleep that night.
Saturday came, and he told me he had thrown up. I asked why, and he said (with a sly grin) “maybe cuz I ate 4 bags of chips last night?” and I laughed and told him he was probably right! And then off we went to another day of volleyball, expecting to be done around 1 or 2. It was my baby’s birthday!! And we had a whole day of stuff planned. Sufficed to say, we did not get to make it to most of our plans. We did, however, get a few hours to run off and take him to get balloons and to go to the toy store (where he met Darth Vader!) The toy store had this random Star Wars spaceship building competition that day, and I remember watching my little baby and my middle baby standing there and building spaceships.. and something caught in my throat. I started crying while watching my middle-little – I knew something was wrong. Call it mothers intuition, call it whatever you want. But tears filled my eyes as I watched him build his little spaceship and proudly show me. He seemed so weak, but he had told me he hadn’t slept well, so I assumed that was why (or I was trying to convince myself that was why)
We spent the remainder of the day at the school, where our oldest and his team came in 4th place! We then hauled ass home, quickly gave our little dude his bday present and snarfed a couple of cupcakes (which our middle -little avoided, for probably the first time in his life – another fact that filled my eyes with tears.. but in my mind, wrote it off as his belly ache from throwing up… maybe he was getting the flu.. yeah, that had to be it!) We then loaded up and went to see the new Peanuts movie for our little dudes bday. I calmed a bit watching our middle pound back his popcorn and iced tea.. maybe he is okay. 24 hour bug maybe? Then home to bed.
Sunday was very uneventful. Playing with new toys and running around the house, as with any other Sunday. Middle started getting kind of blah in the afternoon, and spent the evening on the couch watching tv and eating bananas (another sign I should have paid attention to)
Monday morning was middles doctor appointment. I had booked it almost a month earlier (it takes FOREVER to get into the doctor where I live) and he laughed that morning and said “I threw up again last night. Probably the popcorn. Good thing I have a doctor appointment today” We took our oldest to school and headed off to the doctor. During the drive, middle deteriorated. He wailed in agony that his stomach was in knots and his legs were shaking involuntarily. I figured he had some sort of reaction to his shots, or had the flu, and quickly got him to the doctor. By the time we hit the office, he couldn’t stand. So I scooped him up in my arms and carried him, slightly taken aback at how light he felt. Again, tears. I knew in my gut that something was wrong. But I kept trying to tell myself that he was okay (I have a tendency to be overly pessimistic, and was trying to not be) They had him pee in a cup (quite the feat considering he couldn’t stand at this point) and took us to the exam room, where he promptly collapsed onto the exam bed. Trying to fight back tears, I stared at my poor 10 year old baby laying there, all sick looking and in pain. The doctor came in and said the words I had been dreading for days “there was glucose in his urine” and that is all it took… tears started running. My son heard and saw my reaction and started crying. They did a finger prick and it popped up on the screen…. I was praying I saw the number wrong… no way he can be 22.9! I collapsed on top of him, sobbing and apologizing over and over… he kept asking why, and I couldn’t make words come out. The doctor then quickly got to work, calling the emergency room to get them prepared for us to get there. My son, my baby, my sweet little comedian… diabetes. Not the flu. Not a uti. Not a reaction to his immunization. Diabetes.
I cried the whole way to the hospital, my eyes covered by my sunglasses (the crying shield of most moms!) and pulled up to the emergency room, knowing full well what was about to happen. See, right after I got married when I was 22, my first husband got type 1 diabetes. Same kind of thing as my son – peeing and flu-like symptoms. His doctor checked him and sent him immediately to emergency. I already knew the drill. I had already been through it once in my life. Already experienced the super high finger test, already been told to go straight to emergency, already been told to tell the admitting nurse a certain glucose number, already been through the week of testing and IV’s and blood work and dieticians and nurses and doctors. Already been through the world shift and carb counting crash courses. I stood outside the emergency room, tears brimming my eyes, as my 10 year old crunched over on the ground in excruciating pain. I kissed the back of his head, and scooped him up in my arms again, and carried him across the threshold of the emergency room, fully knowing that my life was about to turn inside out. I stood there as they checked him in, being judged and reprimanded by several nurses “how could you let his glucose get so high? you should have brought him in long ago. do you have any idea how sick he is? why did you wait so long?” on and on… I had to repeatedly explain that he was not a diabetic, but I feared he was about to be diagnosed as one. The judgement broke my heart. They all looked at me like I was a horrible mother… I can’t even begin to explain how many pieces my heart had shattered into by that point. He was finally put into a room and painfully hooked up to an IV to get him hydrated. He was so dehydrated at that point, it took so many tries to get his IV in… I had to walk away.. his screams still haunt me. My husband and I stood there, with our 4 year old in tow, in absolute disbelief at what was happening. We had assumed we would go to the doctor, get some antibiotics, take our boy home to rest, and spend the day together.
What I haven’t mentioned, that day was also our 2nd wedding anniversary. Not exactly how I expected to spend the day. Instead of being all lovey and snuggly with my husband, I was phoning people to arrange pick up of our oldest from school, finding someone to watch our 4 year old so my husband could go home to nap (he hadn’t slept from his night shift the night before), calling work to take the week off because I had to spend the week in the hospital with my son, trying to figure out who was going to be at home with the boys while my husband worked his night shift on Wednesday, and trying to keep myself from exploding into a giant mess on the floor. Luckily, my sister and her husband took our little guy and offered to get our oldest from school that night and keep them until after supper. Then my sister came to sit with me while my husband went home to nap. I can’t even begin to articulate how close I felt to having a complete breakdown that day. But I am amazed to report, I did not. And I still have not. I fear that one day it will sneak up on me and I will go lose my shit for a bit, but as of now, my shit is completely accounted for.
My son went upstairs to Peds, which would become our home for the next 8 days. I will summate a bit – my middle is afraid of needles, and had to have his blood checked every 4 hours for 2 days. His arm was hamburger. A few of the lab techs were great, however, there were two that I am certain could give lessons on human torture. There were some amazeballs nurses on that floor, a few of which took extra time to sit and talk to me. I am sure I looked like a complete wreck, so I appreciate the few who sat and talked to me, keeping me from going insane. And there wasn’t a single nurse on the peds floor who didn’t take the time to assure me that this was NOT my fault, or an oversight on my part. That it was just a fluke and it was amazing that I caught it when I did. That it was amazing that I made the appointment when I did, as he had no symptoms at that point. That I did everything right. That it wasn’t my fault. That I wasn’t a bad mom. That he had been mildly sick for a few months, but it was his immunizations that set off the “storm” that was his breaking point, and had he not got shots, he would have continued to be sick without anyone knowing it. That it was going to happen to him eventually, and there was nothing I could have done to prevent it. That in spite of what was happening, I was a good mom and he was lucky to have me. It was said by nurses, diabetic nurses, doctors… so I believe what they all say is true, and I have to learn to forgive myself.
I have nothing but good to say about the Peds nurses, our diabetic nurse, our dietician and one of our doctors. The other doctor was an absolute asshat. At one point, there was a confrontation in which he rushed me (like, across the room stomping and stood in my face in a threatening manor) and started barking shit at me. But instead of being a pushover and caving, I stood up for myself and didn’t back down. I am not sure if I did the right thing, but no one is going to stand there and tell me what is best for my son or our life, unless it is me. I had 4 nurses standing in the room as witnesses, all of which stayed after he left to apologize, then I had the unit manager come and apologize to me (because the nurses had all filed complaints against the doctor for how he treated me and spoke to me). I appreciated that. It is not every day that you stand up for yourself and then actually get backed by 5 people. The next day, the doctor himself came in and apologized for his behavior, which was unexpected. But he did it in a way that made it seem like he was apologizing, but still insisted that he was right. So it did not come across as genuine, but nonetheless, I managed to keep my head on, and kept from freaking out. I was kind of proud of myself. I am not a fan of confrontation, and this is one of the worst I’ve dealt with. But I know my son, I know my life, and I will do whatever it takes to protect that. And I did. Don’t poke the momma bear..
We finally got to go home and start our life. Carb counting and glucose testing and insulin dosing, and spending more time at Shoppers Drug Mart than I have ever in my entire life. Middle dude spent a few days at home, organizing his life and sorting out his new routine. 2 days after going home, I went back to work, and my husband texted me a video at 7:30 in the morning “look!” and it was of our middle giving himself his own needles!! That was a HUGE step in his treatment. Up until 4 days before that, he was still screaming and thrashing when he got his insulin. I can’t even tell you how night & day this was, and how proud I felt (I honestly burst into tears at work when I saw the video) And 2 days after that, he decided it was time to go back to school. We had a big meeting with his teacher and teachers assistant, and taught them everything and how to treat his highs and lows. And off he went, back into the arms of his adoring friends and classmates. He’s like a rockstar now. People mill around him when he does his testing and dosing. He loves the attention.
Since we came home, we have had 6 or 8 appointments. It has literally consumed our lives. But we adjusted so quickly and so seamlessly, it has changed everything, and yet nothing has changed. My husband, who has never had any experience with diabetes before this, has slid into the roll so easily, he didn’t even give it a second thought. He stands in the kitchen at meal times, and crunches numbers in his head, and has had no issues at all. He even came up with a time saving system that has helped tremendously! He took a sharpie and wrote the carb count on the top of all of the snacks. So his applesauces all have either 12g or 13g on the lid. Fruit cups are all 6g, 7g or 9g. His arrowroot cookie package says 5g/cookie. Our cereal containers have printed labels on top for the different cereals we have inside. Cheerios 17g/1cup MG cheerios 21g/1cup etc etc. It has made packing lunches and whatnot so much easier.
Our life has turned upside down and inside out. I haven’t slept through the night since the 8th of November. I still have to get up at 3:00am to check him. His carb/insulin ratio has changed 5 times since he was discharged. His 24hr insulin dosing has changed 3 times. He has had more lows than I care to admit. We have gone through more packets of rockets than I have ever bought in my life. We have done more math in the last month than I have done since school. I have used the term “carb” more in the last month than in my entire life. I have more numbers in my head than ever before. We have had more contact with their school than ever before.
BUT! My son has gained 6 pounds. His face has color in it again. His eyes aren’t sunken in anymore. He sleeps through the night now (even with me checking him at 3am). His legs don’t hurt anymore. He is happy and healthy and living a normal life. His needles and testing sucks, but I have my son back. I will cry forever whenever I think about that week (as I have done throughout this entire post construction) but of everything that could have been wrong with my baby, I am glad that it is so controllable, and that he can continue to live his life and do his thing. He just comes with a few extra holes and a couple extra accessories now.
But he is still my baby. I look at him and worry about everything that can now go wrong with him, but I also see a boy who has taken the bull by the horns and know that he has a good head on his shoulders and can handle anything. He is my little hero, and this whole ordeal has just brought us all closer and proved that we are capable of anything. My husband and my sons are amazing. And I have to accept that I am not so bad, myself.
Lesson: life is crazy and unpredictable! Love it for what it is.