My Youngest Has Juvenile Diabetes

This past Thursday, August 16, 2012, my youngest son, Joshua, who is now 4 years old, was diagnosed with Type 1 or Juvenile diabetes.  We spent from Thursday afternoon to this afternoon in the Riley Hospital for Children, while the medical team worked out his treatment and educated his mother and me in his care at home.  Juvenile diabetes is an autoimmune deficiency in which Joshua's immune system has attacked and destroyed the Islets of Langerhans inside his pancreas.  As a result, he no longer will produce insulin, the hormone his body needs to open the cells to the sugar his body has produced from the food he's eaten.  Apparently, an existing genetic predisposition was activated by an environmental trigger and set all of this into motion.  Based on his A1C of 10.9%, the doctors stated that they believe that he's been living with it for about a month.

I first noticed something about three weeks ago.  Joshua looked to have lost a lot of weight very quickly, he was sleeping during the day, he was drinking water almost constantly, he was urinating like every 15 or 20 minutes, it seemed, and he began wetting the bed 4 or 5 times a night, although he is potty trained.  I discussed my observations with his mother, who had other explanations for everything until this week, when he, apparently, wet 5 different beds in the same night.  She had some urine glucose and ketone test strips she had obtained from her mother some time ago and tested Joshua's urine on Thursday morning.  She said that the color on the test strips couldn't get any darker any faster than they did.  She made an appointment with Joshua's pediatrician for 2:30 that afternoon.  After testing Joshua's blood and urine at the office, they immediately rushed off Joshua and his mother to Riley Children's Hospital downtown.  The medical staff at the hospital confirmed the diagnosis and admitted Joshua as a new onset Type 1 diabetic.

His mother and I went through three different training sessions to teach us about how to feed him, test him, dose and administer his insulin and to handle crises.  At this last session, the educator stated, "We like to keep things upbeat, while you're here, so we left the section on complications for you to read at home."  Now I'm sitting in my apartment by myself with the information on the table across the room and I don't want to read it.  I couldn't read it anyway, since this liquid keeps appearing in my eyes and blurs everything.  I'm not even sure why I'm upset or if I even have the right to be upset.

I watched a short video at the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation website entitled, "I Can."  It was difficult watching that, too.

Joshua, of course, was very scared and overwhelmed in the hospital.  I did my best to cuddle and comfort him and distract him.  At one point in the ER, though, when he and I were alone together, it hit me that no one had really told him what was going on.  I had picked up the other four boys and had explained to them what was going on, but no one had said anything to Joshua yet.  I got him quieted down and I looked him square in the eyes and told him what was going on.  I told him that his body was sick and why, that he was going to have to prick his finger four or more times a day every day for the rest of his life and that he was going to have to get four or more injections every day for the rest of his life.  He started crying again and I held him close and soothed him a bit.  Then I pulled him back and looked him in the eyes again and said, "Have I ever lied to you?"  He shook his head.  "I've always told you the truth and this is the truth.  I love you, son, and I always will.  Now, you're going to be fine.  You are going to have a great life and you are going to do great things.  It's just going to be a bit more difficult and annoying that the lives other people may lead.  OK?"  He nodded.  "Well, we're going to get through this together, you understand?  We will.  I will always be with you and you have so many other people who love you so, so much, buddy.  Your mother.  Your brothers.  Your grandparents and aunts and uncles.  You are not alone in this and you never will be.  OK?"  He nodded and we sat and just sat until the nurse came back in a little later.  I think that speech may have been for me.

Joshua is home now with his brothers and doing well.  There are still some aspects of his situation that I don't understand, like why his blood sugars are still so high.  I will follow up with someone on Monday after I spend a day getting a grasp on this.  Well, at least a finger on it.  Not sure that I will ever grasp this.


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