18 years have passed since my son was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and still, I remember it like it was yesterday. March 17, 2000.
The day started out sunny but by the end of it a horrible storm would hit my world and nothing would ever be the same.
We drove through a raging snowfall to take my lifeless 2-year-old son to the hospital. There we were told that he had Type 1 diabetes. They would monitor him for the next 24 hours to see if he would live or not.
Thankfully he survived that day but the fear never left me. Before we left the hospital I was terrified of taking him home. I worried that I would make an error in his insulin and cost him his life.
When we got home, I did make mistakes. Because he was so young, he didn’t know how to tell me if he was high or low. We didn’t have continuous glucose monitors then either.
If he fell asleep, I would panic. The glucometer would be taken out before anything else. I would clean his tiny finger, get a drop of blood almost as big as the pad of that finger, and apply it to a test strip. 30 seconds later I would finally learn if he was low or simply a toddler in desperate need of a nap.
Over the years he would learn to tell me if he was high or low. His attitude would sometimes tell the tale for him. When he short tempered and trying to kill his brother by throwing things at his head, he was definitely high!
Eventually, he learned how to tell if he was low. He would come to me and say he felt “weazy” and needed some juice.
We moved from injections to an insulin pump by the time he was 5. My family couldn’t handle seeing him sitting by himself eating meals at set times when there was a better way. They helped us to pay for that first Cozmo insulin pump.
Our life was changed when his pump arrived. No longer did we have to deal with 6-8 injections per day. I was able to allow him to graze. This was an incredible freedom for a small child and mom.
Puberty came with its own challenges. The teen years were much like those of children without diabetes. There were good times and bad. Somehow we made it out alive and that is more than can be said for some children with diabetes.
My son is now 20 years old. He has lived with diabetes for 90% of his life. That makes me want to cry. 90% of his life has been dealing with injections, infusion set pokes. finger lancing, carb counting, high blood sugars and lows. He has learned how to workout while managing diabetes He goes out with his friends at night and as a few drinks all while dealing with insulin, test strips and diet.
My son works in the construction industry and must keep his pump warm when temperatures dip to below -30C. He manages to test and combat lows all while wielding a hammer and trying to get his work done.
He lives thousands of miles away. His roommate has known him his entire life. They watch out for each other. He knows about my son’s “broken pancreas”. I wish that neither of them ever had to learn what diabetes was or how to handle it but life had other plans.
18 years. It amazes me and saddens me. I am so blessed to have a strong, young man who is still doing so well after all of these years. It fills me with gratitude to think of all of the love and support that has guided me on this journey. I still wish that he didn’t have to be on it. I can’t believe that 18 years have passed already.
18 is just a small blip in his life. I look forward to watching the next 18 years and another 18 after that. Who knows what technology will have in store for him then. Perhaps he will live to say “I used to have type 1 diabetes but now I don’t”. I certainly hope so.
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