My youngest son had always been a thin child. It was March of 2000 and he was two. It was flu season.
I was sure that he was teething and didn’t worry much when he seemed a little under the weather. He was listless but he could manage to walk to the fridge, open it and pour himself a glass of juice! How sick could he be I wondered?
His diapers were drenched constantly. I had blankets laying everywhere as we couldn’t keep him dry. He was drinking a lot so I didn’t worry about dehydration. He would only stay in my arms and he liked to sleep a lot. He was my baby so I let him. It would pass.
One day he woke up and he was clawing at his tongue. It was full of white spots. That was it. We packed him up and headed to the Emergency Room.
He vomited along the way. We were finally seen by the doctor and he was diagnosed with an ear infection. They gave him medication for the Thrush on his tongue.
We were asked if he was drinking fluids. I said that is all he is doing! They said that was good. We went home.
A few days later he was worse. We called our family doctor and got in right away. He was labouring to breathe as we sat in the office. His feet were solid ice despite the woolen socks on his feet. I had no idea what was wrong.
Our family doctor took one look at him and gave us a diagnosis of type 1 diabetes. He has diabetes and was in Ketoacidosis. His blood had too much carbon dioxide in it.
On the off chance, it was simply a chest infection, emergency x-rays were ordered along with the blood work. We went to the hospital and waited no time.
My little boy’s body was lifeless and I had to hold him up for all tests. The hospital staff looked worried. I still didn’t understand what was truly going on. We returned to the doctor’s office and waited only a few minutes.
As I sat in the office, I saw a sign that gave the warning signs of diabetes. My son had too many to list! There was no doubt about the diagnosis.
We were told to drive to the hospital in the next town as fast as we could. They were waiting for us. There was no time to waste.
We drove through a blinding snowstorm. I held my little boy in my arms willing him to live. I was terrified.
I didn’t know what the words the doctor had said meant but I knew my baby’s life was at stake. It was not just an ear infection or teething. It was something much worse and it was literally sucking the life out of my little boy.
When we got to the hospital, the woman seemed to take years to register us. I wanted her to hurry but it didn’t seem to help. Finally, she finished and took us to the pediatric floor herself rather than confusing me with directions.
The staff took over. They weighed my son on a baby scale. He weighed 11kg at 2 1/2 years old. They poked him and prodded and he didn’t respond. The doctor took one look at him and sent him to ICU.
He was hooked up to more tubes than I could imagine. The doctor came back to talk to us.
Once again it was confirmed. Our son was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. His blood glucose level was 7 times the normal range. The next 12 hours were critical. If he lived then we would learn to deal with this disease called Type 1 Diabetes. In the meantime, all we could do was pray.
I was stunned. We followed his advice and prayed like never before. I never left my child’s side. Family was called and they began their own prayers and prayer chains for us. All I could do was focus on the fact that my little boy had to live.
Twenty-four hours later he was ripping out IVs and catheters. When he went back to the pediatric floor, I began to realize how weak he was.
I noticed that he had hardly spoken in weeks. I saw the flesh sag off of his little bottom. When he fell down, he was too weak to get up and I had to stand him back up.
I was terrified of how I would care for him when he came home. They gave me things to read and I learned that if he went “low” while he was asleep he could have a seizure and die.
I learned about the damage that the Ketoacidosis could have caused. I learned what could develop in my son at a very early age. I also learned what my life would be about–fighting this disease, improving awareness, and doing everything I could for my son and everyone else’s children who live with diabetes no matter what their age.