The Day of My Son's Diabetes Diagnosis

Written by Liz Bell

The date: February 26, 2009.  It’s like any other day, the hustle and bustle of getting the kids ready for school, Matt in preschool, Lauren in 1st grade.  Lauren has been dealing with a rash on her face and I can’t seem to figure out what it is.  Matt has been moody, itchy, running to the bathroom, which feels like every two seconds and always in need of a glass of apple juice.  I made the appointment with the pediatrician to see what was going on with both kids.

As I went about my day, knowing after school I had to bring the kids to the doctor, I began thinking about what’s been happening the past few weeks. I mentioned to my husband that Matt doesn’t seem right, he’s always yelling at me, becoming irritated for no reason.  I always thought it was because he was hungry, so when I picked him up after school I had a sandwich for him. 

Before my son was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, every night he would come downstairs and ask for a bowl of cereal with milk. Little did I know it saved his life.  He struggled getting up each morning, yet prior to his diagnosis, he was the first one up.  When he would complain about his legs hurting during his baseball games, I thought it was growing pains.  All of these little clues, not all at once, but spread over a few weeks, were symptoms of type 1 diabetes. 

The truth was I had no idea what this meant for him.  You’re probably wondering, “What’s wrong with you?”  Let me explain. Before Matthew’s diagnosis, the only knowledge I had of dealing with diabetes was when my miniature schnauzer was diagnosed with the disease in the summer of 2008. The dog would get 2 injections a day and he would get his blood sugar checked every 2 months. The vet would make any dose adjustments and we were on our way.  It seemed easy enough, right? Well, I learned it’s not that easy in a human, especially when it’s your son.

The morning of Matt’s diagnosis, the pediatrician tested Matt’s urine twice with a ketone strip because the first one came out positive.  Once the strip is positive, the blood sugar is check by using blood pricked from his finger. His blood glucose level was 384.  I remember calling my husband and telling him what the doctor said.  We were told to head directly to the hospital.

The next few days in the hospital were dedicated to understanding the illness, as Matt’s pediatric endocrinologist began figuring out the correct dose of long- and short-term insulin.  Then, I had to learn how to give Matt his insulin shots. It wasn’t easy, and I almost got sick, but I had to do it. 

That night, as I laid next to him in the pullout chair, I began thinking, “How do I go to birthday parties, the movies, vacation, even out of the house without having a nervous breakdown?”

There are many times in our lives when we feel overwhelmed.  I think the key is to break it down into manageable segments.  Yes, Matt was diagnosed and there is a lot I need to understand, but I knew I needed to put order into our lives, schedule events and stick to the plan.  It was hard at first—let’s face it, change is hard—but it worked out for the best. 

Staying firm has proven to be successful. Today, I have a 9 year old who thinks logically, makes reasonable decisions, and performs well in school. I realize we still have a lot to go through, but I know the current goals I set for him have been met.  I’ll continue to reinforce the priorities and I know he will continue to move forward. Until the next pencil meets the paper, have a great day.