- Family and Parenting
A Chronic Illness: The Baby God Gave Me
We Have a New Baby
My family is a busy, happy, small but crazy family. We have two boys, ages 13 and 8 who are involved in Scouts and other activities that keep them and especially their dad very busy. He is a Scout leader for both of them, and that eats up much of his spare time.
Consequently, whilst they are off doing all of their activities, I am usually home, cleaning, meal prepping, catching up on paperwork for work, etc. That looks really good on paper, like I have a ton of "me" time. Unfortunately, I'm a mom first, and you can only have so much "me" time before you look for someone to take care of.. someone who "needs" you. At 13 and 8, my boys were pretty independent and sometimes it seemed like they didn't need me for anything..
Over the past two years, we've had the 3rd baby talk on several occasions. I've had baby fever a handful of times and spent a good week trying to convince the husband. "But we have it so easy right now." he would say. One particular day, I spent part of my workday playing with one of my parent's baby girl. I had baby fever and was determined to convince him. On that same day, his work had a baby shower for a colleague of his. All he could think as she received her gifts is, "I am so glad that we don't have a baby and all of the baby equipment!"
Deep down, I knew that if I was 100% committed and serious, then I could have convinced him. I kept going back and forth though, from wanting a needy bundle to enjoying taking my boys on lunch dates and to the movies on a whim without having to pack a diaper bag, or being able to leave them home alone to run errands or go shopping at the mall. Ultimately, as 2016 wore on, I knew that this was a dream I'd have to bury for good. We would both turn 40 in 2017 and that was the mental cut off for both of us.
While I was content with this decision, I still would occasionally ask God for an accident. How crazy it would be to surprisingly find out that we were expecting! Although it wouldn't be convenient, I thought it would be a blessing to our family. I just felt a huge urge to be needed.
God heard me, loud and clear. I was needed.
On December 3, 2016 I had a well visit for my teen. He complained on the way in that he hates vaccines and needles, and because I have to give myself a shot every 2 weeks, I told him that that is normal and even if he had to give himself shots, he'd probably always hate needles.
It was a productive visit. They took a small blood sample, he gave a urine sample and they gave him his vaccines. Then we waited.. and waited. I texted my hubby letting him know that we were going to stop and get lunch on the way home. After what seemed like forever, I finally went to the front desk and asked if they could call us with the results, if that was why we were waiting. The nurse came up and told me that the doctor wanted to talk to me. I went back to the room, slightly worried and slightly annoyed. After all, we rushed out the door without breakfast and we both were starving and eager to get on with our Saturday.
After what seemed like forever, the doctor finally came in. She asked if he had any breakfast, which he hadn't, so his blood sample was a fasting sample. Problematically, his blood showed a high level of glucose, which may have been acceptable if he had eaten beforehand. His urine also showed glucose and keytones, which meant that his body was not getting enough glucose and was breaking down his body tissues for energy. I was told that this could be an emergency situation and that I needed to take him to a children's hospital immediately.
Oddly, I still wasn't too worried. A few months prior, I had an incident myself where blood work showed I could have a blood clot and needed to go straight to the ER for an MRI to rule out a clot. So, I thought we'd go, they would run some tests, figure out that he is fine and let us go home. We arranged for my sister-in-law to take my youngest (we knew we'd probably be there for a minimum of a few hours), packed some electronics to keep us busy and drove to Beaumont.
We got checked in pretty quickly. They started him on an IV and got some more blood. After relaying our information and medical history to several staff members, we finally talked to a doctor. "I'm going to reach out to our endocrinology team, but I think they'll clear him to go home. We've had some other kids come in with these test results, but no symptoms. We need to do one more blood test, one that will check to see how long his blood glucose has been elevated. But I don't think he's going to need to be admitted." We silently celebrated. I had so much that I wanted to get done over the weekend, I was eager to get home!
A good hour later, the doctor returned. They were not able to get the test results back right away and with his elevated glucose, they wanted to admit him. In less than an hour we were lead to a room in which we'd call home for the next few days. That is when we were hit with the reality that our son has type 1 Diabetes. From the minute we were admitted, they were preparing us for lifelong changes. I still had it in the back of my mind that he didn't have anything serious, his blood would come back fine and we'd be discharged.
I'm not sure when it hit each of us that this was for real. I guess for me, it was about the 2nd day. We were calculating insulin doses for every meal, yet his blood sugar was still pretty high (200-300, sometimes higher). I knew in my heart that his blood sugar shouldn't be that high. When his blood test came back, it showed that his monthly average blood sugar for the past 3 months had been around 250, normal is like 80-100.
The care we received at Beaumont was awesome and contributed to my optimism with the situation. While my husband stayed the first night with us, he went home to take care of William the second night. I was happy to be by my teen's side during the whole ordeal, and had no desire to go home until he was discharged. I was so grateful that with what was happening, he kept a sense of humor and didn't feel sorry for himself. It was really fun on the 2nd day because after 4 bags of IV fluids, his urine finally wasn't showing keytones. He was able to get his IV out and we were able to take walks on different floors of the hospital. One day there was a huge sale with vendors selling everything from winter gear to jewelry and clothing. On that same day a couple musicians from the Detroit Symphony Orchestra played music for a small crowd on the children's floor. I wasn't sure if I was at the hospital-- or on vacation. I was enjoying the long days I had with Anthony, even though we were going through a life changing journey.
We were admitted on Saturday morning. We were educated by different staff members on every day of our visit. We knew much more about Type 1 Diabetes than we did when we arrived. We were able to calculate each meal's insulin dose based on his blood sugar and number of carbs he was eating. We knew how to use the Glucagon in the event of an emergency. We had all practice and became experts at injecting insulin and testing the blood sugar. By Monday we were ready to go home with all of our new knowledge and equipment.
Although extremely sad for my boy, who now had to deal with daily injections and a chronic medical condition, I was still grateful. We were so blessed that this was caught before he showed physical symptoms. Just a couple weeks prior, he had a school trip to Washington DC and could have gotten sick there. Additionally, I know that people are faced with far worse illnesses, such as incurable cancer. I kept thinking over and over that thank God this is something that can be managed. I worried (and still do) about Anthony's mental health and it taking a toll on him, and him managing this disease as a young adult.
And a lesson learned, God listens. He listened to me complaining about my boys not needing me and my need to be needed. My teenager now needs me like never before. Complete with 2:00 am blood checks and feedings if necessary.