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Toddler Stories; Diagnosing Christian With Type 1 Insulin Dependent Diabetes Mellitus, Our Juvenile Diabetes Story

Updated on April 10, 2012

Diagnosing Christian with type 1 insulin dependent diabetes mellitus was one of my most frustrating and horrific challenges in my life. This is a juvenile diabetes story with a difference and a happy ending, although the journey has been rocky.

We were told if Christian makes it to the age of 5, then he could have a greater chance of surviving and making adulthood.

He is 15 now and, through the difficulties, we have reached the light at the end of the tunnel.

This story is just the beginning with a lesson to learn - a mother's intuition should never be denied!

I hope you will now gain a greater understanding the difficulties parents go through just to save a life.

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Christian was formally diagnosed in 1997, three days after the funeral of Princess Diana. He was 18 months old and lucky to be alive. We are grateful that we have him here today.

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Christian Living A Normal Life - Festival Fun
Christian Living A Normal Life - Festival Fun

Chrissie Wasn't Eating, Just Drinking

There in my arms was a dying baby. He was nicknamed by my father as 'Tuppence', meaning a tuppence worth of nothing, an affectionate term but, none-the-less, appropriate. He was losing weight and pathetic looking.

From his lips cried, "Juice...oooooh juice!" Everywhere we went, for our lives to be worth living, we had to take litres of sugared juice with us or he would create merry hell! So, why sugared drinks? Well, Chrissie - as we used to call him - wasn't eating, just drinking. I had to give him something to keep him going, albeit empty calories.

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I Was Overwhelmed With Worry

This poor, squarny toddler, suffered with terrible nappy rash. I was changing his nappy every hour and managed to keep the soreness at bay with E45 cream - his nappy was sodden every time.

As time went on he was becoming more lifeless and listless as he would suck on his fingers and keep his yellow blanket close to his upper lip, rubbing the cotton gently as comfort. He would just remove this for more 'Juice'.

I was overwhelmed with worry - even his father was at a loss as to what was wrong with him and he is a nurse - so I took him to see the Doctor.

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I Explained To The Doctor His Symptoms

I explained to the Doctor his symptoms and he checked Christian over. He explained that it was normal for toddlers to be picky with their food, that the weather was warm which would account for the thirst and that the nappy rash was to do with not changing him enough. I should bath him more.

Not being happy, over the next few days, I returned only to be told the same and that perhaps I was being neurotic. I couldn't understand it, I could see him dying before my eyes and all I was told was that I was neurotic!

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Shining From The Book - Check Diabetes

My worry turned to frustration, then to anger and then action! Internet wasn't widely available in 1996, so all I had were books to refer to. I was determined to get to the bottom of this, so I searched in the library.

I had some common sense ideas that his problem must have something to do with the metabolism. I knew my family had a history of thyroid problems, so I checked this out first. He didn't seem to have the symptoms of this but at the bottom of the page, I saw related topics. There, as if a glow shining from the book was 'Check Diabetes' and a page number.

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Symptoms of Juvenile Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus

I felt my adrenalin rush when I started reading the list of symptoms for Diabetes Mellitus or Juvenile Type 1 Diabetes:

  • Thirst
  • Tiredness
  • Weight loss
  • Over Urination
  • Listnessness

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How To Diagnose Diabetes

As I read on, I could see how to diagnose diabetes:

  • A simple finger prick blood test. Normal blood glucose should be between 4 - 7, if it is higher then this is an indication of diabetes. These monitors were easily available at pharmacies and clinics.
  • A urine test which checks for ketones (ketoacidosis) - a form of blood poisoning which stems from excess sugar that floats in the blood stream and end up in the kidneys and out in the urine. If there is no insulin, then the sugar can't be stored in the cells. This created ideal conditions for fungus in his nappies!
  • Without treatment, hyperglycaemia can lead to death.

A huge rush came over me. I rang my husband, who was a bit blasé about the information (he is a really laid back kind of man), and told my parents who didn't condemn the notion.

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The Doctor's Appointment

I arranged a double appointment - my older son needed to be seen (he had glue ear and was deaf) - with the Doctor. The look in the Doctor's eye told a tale of weariness.

"What seems to be the problem?" He asked. "Daniel doesn't seem to be hearing." I replied. With this he checked, umm and arrhed, then muttered something about glue ear and he would refer him.

"But my main concern is really for Chrissie." I rushed, whilst looking at the response as if to say, 'Oh, here we go, again' which prompted me to say, "I know you think I am neurotic and, if I am wrong, I will go and seek further investigation, but I think he has Juvenile diabetes." There was a sigh and a tut. Before he could respond I continued further before he fobbed me off, "I know that all it takes is a simple finger prick test and he does seem to have all the symptoms..."

"I don't think it is really necessary, it is very rare for a child of his age to have diabetes..." he interrupted, "Look Doctor, just passify me, it isn't much to ask - just a simple finger prick test - please, Doctor." I pleaded, where he reluctantly, agreed and sent me to the corridor to await the nurse.

I can still remember the conversation to this day - I think it has been embedded on my soul, the words on that day. It was something that would change the course of our lives.

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Hospital With A Blood Glucose Of 25

There was a mad panic. Christian had his finger pricked and after the blood glucose monitor counted down, the nurse sat us down and rushed off to the Doctor.

"Mrs Smith", the Doctor sat me down, "your son has a blood glucose of 25 and needs to go to hospital immediately. I will inform them of your arrival, will you be able to get there?" "Yes." I said, bedazzled. Of course Daniel's glue ear problems seemed to have been forgotten - now it was a case of life and death for Chris.

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The Start Of A Relationship With The Diabetes Specialist Nurse

That was the start of it. It was a whirlwind of hazy confusion - so much so, that I don't even remember the trip to the hospital. Christian was x-rayed and I was greeted by a nurse who confirmed that he was to be insulin dependent whilst being ushered to the children's ward.

I was to have a close relationship with the diabetes specialist nurse. She, for a while, was my guiding light whom I am grateful to. The trips in and out of hospital became routine due to a young child who suffered hypoglycaemia (low blood glucose levels associated with too much insulin and not enough sugar). He became one of those termed as 'known diabetics' by the ambulance service in our area.

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Taken shortly after leaving hospital
Taken shortly after leaving hospital

Abuse: Restraining & Stabbing With A Syringe

When Christian was plugged up with drips, he soon learned the term 'find a vein'. The association came because they couldn't find a vein. He was restrained and stabbed for up to an hour in performing this task, screaming "no, find a vein!" and it was me who had to restrain him. This would be a regular occurrence in future, whilst abusing him with a syringe full of insulin and pricking his fingers to get blood. Yes, thinking back, these times felt like they were not worth living.

The consultant came to me and said, "Arh, you are the lady who diagnosed your son - Well done! You have saved his life!" As you can see, we have a lot to be grateful for, but little did I know of the journey ahead.

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I Won A Prize - The Life Of My Child

I was shown how to administer insulin and given a whole heap of equipment so as I could look after this fragile human being. I don't know why, but they made me feel that I had won something - like a prize. This was really odd, but then, I suppose I had won something. I had won the life of my child, the greatest gift of all.

Christian is now 15 years old and looks after his diabetes independently. We were told that if he made it passed 5, he had a good chance of making adulthood. He is one of the nicest young men that you could meet, a bit shy but laid back and considerate. As the youngest in Britain to get diabetes mellitus, at the time, he has taught us so much more than we could have about ourselves. Through his suffering, he has been an inspiration to those who have known him and has helped to shape me as the person that I am today. For anyone who has a young child who has type 1 insulin dependent diabetes mellitus, don't despair. Look at the light at the end of the tunnel - yes, look carefully, and you will see the joy and the pain will be worth while.

© This work is covered under Creative Commons License

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    • profile image


      5 years ago

      I just come along and saw your blog, was interested to note your comment that your son was the youngest to be diagnosed in britain at the time.....Well my son, Ryan now 18 was diagnosed as type 1 in April 1996 at whipps cross hospital in London at 13 months old, he too was the youngest at the time

    • shazwellyn profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Great Britain

      And you too susanm. The diabetes never goes away, just the way of dealing with it as the child matures. This has its own challenges!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      As a parent of a child with type 1 diabetes, my heart goes out to you. I understand :) Voting up.

    • shazwellyn profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Great Britain

      Thank you Izzy and Quuenieproac. This was just the beginning of our story and the road has been long. It is only now, that we are returning back to the people that we were. It feels like someone has opened the cage and set us free.

      We are grateful for the life of Christian. Now our Asperger's son has gone onto specialist further education, Christian has been given a chance to grow with some idea of 'normality' at long last.

    • quuenieproac profile image


      8 years ago from Malaysia

      Wonderful story, terrific ending, congratulations to a brave mom! Wow I can understand the long, agonizing battle you and family went through. Thanks for sharing.

    • IzzyM profile image


      8 years ago from UK

      Powerful story well told Shaz! So glad you finally got listened to and that your son is well today because of it :)

    • shazwellyn profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Great Britain

      Happyboomernurse - :)

    • Happyboomernurse profile image

      Gail Sobotkin 

      8 years ago from South Carolina

      You're right, Shazwellyn, you have already won the prize, it's what makes your Juvenile Diabetes Story so powerful.

    • shazwellyn profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Great Britain

      Thank you for the hubber love Patty :)

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish MS 

      8 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      Good story and good experience to share with all of us. Sometimes you have to dig in and insist on medical help. Rated Up and several others.

    • shazwellyn profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Great Britain

      Arh, but Happyboomernurse - I have won already! Christian is a special lad who helps make a difference by example. He suffers everyday, but just 'deals' with it. I am proud to have him and grateful for every day that he is with us.

      I can feel your thoughts and thank you for your unconditional and inspirational heart :)

    • Happyboomernurse profile image

      Gail Sobotkin 

      8 years ago from South Carolina

      When I saw the HubMob topic for this week was diabetes, I instantly thought, "Shazwellyn is going to win this."

      No, I'm not psychic but I have learned through the years to pay attention to my intuitive nature.

      It still remains to be seen if you'll be the winner but judging from this submission I'd say it's a pretty safe bet that this hub WILL win. I hope it gets promoted far and wide. Parents need to know that sometimes their own intuitive sense that there's something wrong with their child is more accurate than an overworked doctor's inablity to see what Mom is seeing.

      I'm submitting a hub for the HubMob competition but I hope Christian's story takes the honors. I rated this hub up and beautiful!

    • shazwellyn profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Great Britain

      woodamarc - well, I have a lot to be grateful for. Thank you.

    • woodamarc profile image

      Marc Woodard 

      8 years ago from Portland, Oregon

      It's good to see a happy ending to this story... And the wealth of information and inspiration your able to support and share with others. Great hub!

    • shazwellyn profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Great Britain

      Well, now you are aware!

    • aware profile image


      8 years ago from West Palm Beach Florida.

      First time i ever saw a 1 minute old hub. so i gave it a look.



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