18 years of life with type 1 diabetes

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.

Planning on moving to insulin pump therapy? Download our ebook for great tips and things to think about when meeting a pump rep.

Dear Diabetes, You are 16 now…

1966-chevrolet-corvette-stingray-427-green-silver-3

Dear Diabetes;

You are 16 now.

You are old enough to drive.

You are old enough to date.

You are almost old enough to be finished high school and looking towards a new career.

You are old enough to be looking forward to life on your own.

Unfortunately you don’t have any of those plans.

You are a bum.  You refuse to move on to greener pastures.

You have learned nothing after 16 years.  We have found new treatments to fight you. We have continued to live life to the fullest even when you tried to drag us down.

We have made incredible friends even with you clinging on in the background.

We have continued to live a full life even when you decided to make life horrible by sending blood sugars dangerously high and made my son ill or dropped them low so he had to sit on the sidelines while his friends played.

Diabetes, I have had enough of you.  You no longer wake me up at night. You no longer consume all of my thoughts. You still wake my son however.  Your demands still inconvenience him.  You remain as inconsiderate as ever after all of these years.

I would love nothing more than to kick you out of his life.  I would buy you your own car and send you on your way.  Unfortunately that can’t happen.  You are still with my son after all of these years but guess what? Even when you tried to kill him 16 years ago, he survived! No matter what you have thrown at us, we have survived! It hasn’t been easy.  It has cost us a lot but we are still going.  He has grown to be a strong young man.  I have developed a voice that reaches people in places that I never imagined.

Its been sixteen years since that horrific day when you barged into our lives but we are still strong.  We are still fighting you.  He is still healthy and we are winning. You are still an unwelcome intrusion that we simply tolerate and move forward despite.

 

Luck of the Irish

I am not Irish.  I have never really thought much about St. Patrick’s Day.  As a grade school child, it was a day to make shamrocks and wear green to school.  Over the course of the years, it was just another day.  That was until the year 2000.

That was the year that we all spent wondering if the banks would shut down.  Would the Y2K issue crash everything that we had come to rely on? How would our lives change? Well, Y2K never really seemed to impact much but the year 2000 did forever change my life. It was the year that my two year old son was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes and was given just 24 hours to live.

For 15 years, March 17 has been a day of sadness and celebration. I grieve for the life my son never got to have–a life without carb counting, injections or blood glucose tests.  Its been a day when I relive every minute of naivety, fear, panic, and gratitude.

Fifteen years later, I live in a city that celebrates St. Patrick’s day with a holiday.  I have had the opportunity to go to Ireland and fall in love with the country’s rich history.  I enjoy listening to many lively Irish tunes.  Its listening to those songs and thinking of this day that led my mind ot wonder if perhaps it was that Irish luck that protected us all of those years ago.

Perhaps it was the whisper of a leprechaun that put my son to the front of the cue in the doctor’s office on that St. Paddy’s day so many years ago.

The doctor who would go on to look after my son from ICU to an independent teen could have been an oversized leprechaun…with a different color beard of course.  He was definitely a stroke of luck.  He was one of the few doctors in that area who were forward thinking with their prescription of insulin regiments. He also believed in allowing us to learn and grow with my son’s diabetes care.

It was definitely the luck of the Irish that led me to make one of my first ever online searches for “parents of children with diabetes”.  It brought me to an online email support group that would become my lifeline.  With the stroke of a few keys, I “met” people from all over the world who would become my family.  I met people who knew exactly what I was dealing with and could help me to find my way.

I found mentors and friends who would be with me through the highs and the lows.  We would stay connected, meet on occasion and always been there for one another.

Through them, I would find the strength to go forward and help other people.  I would find a way to make a mark and hopefully improve the lives of other families living with diabetes.

March 17, 2000 changed our world.  It showed us the insidious nature of type 1 diabetes.  The luck of the Irish has been with us in  many ways however.  We have received  numerous gifts along this bumpy path.

Fifteen years later, my son is on the verge of graduating high school. Type 1 diabetes is just something that he has lived with for as long as he can remember. I would still give anything for him not to have to deal with this but its a part of him that he has come to accept.  March 17 is a day to celebrate the luck of the Irish, the blessing of those tricky little leprechauns, and the day that my son received his first injection of life saving insulin.

from blackberry (10)