Type 1 Juvenile Diabetes: Our Family's Stewardship.
Monday, November 3, 2008 was the day our youngest son was diagnosed with type 1 juvenile diabetes. It will be a day our family will never forget.
After the initial shock subsided, reality set in. Deep was the emotion!
My wife and I struggled to contain the torrent of sentiments that flooded our hearts: Fear, anxiety, more fear, helplessness, and an overflowing sense of alarm came to the surface of our lives.
These are feelings I do not wish on anybody. They are unsettling and frightening…intimidating…humbling.
What were we going to do? What did this all mean? Why did this happen to our always-cheerful, spirited six-year-old?
Such real-life questions fluttered in our heads. We had no answers only tears… many tears. If not for our faith in a greater purpose for life, we could have frozen.
The words of James (the brother of Christ) warmed our souls:
“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.” James 1: 2-3 (NASB)
Although our little guy is only six, his entire life is in front of him; diabetes and all.
God has entrusted him to us for a purpose. It’s our job to steward him home!
Type 1 (Juvenile) diabetes: A Brief Overview.
Type 1 diabetes is an auto-immune disease in which the body attacks its own insulin-producing Islet (pronounced eyelet) cells (AKA beta cells). Once these cells are destroyed, the body loses its ability to control its own blood glucose levels. And since the body’s primary control center, the brain operates on glucose, a stable, and controlled blood glucose level (BGL) is critical for survival.
In short, Type 1 diabetes is a big deal. The potential complications resulting from mismanagement and/or mistreatment of Type 1 diabetes are frightening to say the least. A short list includes the following:
- Loss of sight
- Cardiac arrest and other heart-related illnesses
- Nerve damage and loss of extremities
- Kidney failure
- Diabetic coma and potential death
When you first see these complications in black and white, and place a face on them (especially your child’s face), all the previously-mentioned emotions repercolate. You must grab them quick or they can overwhelm you.
Those are the moments where grace prevails.
“Yet He gives grace to the afflicted.” Proverbs 3:34b (NASB)
You seek the stories of triumph and peace and the fear subsides. The reality, however, still exists. This disease is unpredictable (no matter how well you plan for it) and its effects can be devastating.
Yes. God has entrusted diabetes to us for a purpose. We must be true stewards!
The Miracle of the Diagnosis:
When I tell people how our son being diagnosed with diabetes was a miracle, I receive more than a few awkward glances. But it’s true. His diagnosis was a miracle. Allow me to explain.
In the days prior to his actual diagnosis, I knew in my gut something was wrong. Deep in my heart I knew it was diabetes. But also stealth fully lurking were the stinging rebuttals of denial. Unless you’ve experienced this, it’s hard to describe.
The tell-tale symptoms of the disease (excessive thirst, lethargy, frequent urination, confusion, and an overall sense of not feeling “right”) were staring me in the face. I KNEW it. – It was that part of your brain that tries desperately to will things away that prevailed. – Finally, I told my wife I think our precious little boy was really sick.
Monday morning he woke up, told me he didn’t feel well, and wanted to stay home from school. This alone should have been a red flag because here’s a kid who would go to school throwing up buckets if we let him. He loves school. – (Press denial button here).
So what do I do? I give him two children’s Tylenol and buckle him in our car. – He “seemed” fine.
A few minutes later I called my wife and told her I think our little boy has diabetes. Within 10 minutes of that conversation (and after my wife explained his symptoms to our pediatrician), they wanted us to bring him in.
Most of those minutes are still frozen, surreal; the nurse whispering the words “critically high” with reference to his blood sugar level. So high, in fact, it wouldn’t register on the meter. (We would later discover how similar blood sugar levels in adults bring on comas and possibly death). – So yes. We were witness to a miracle. For as sick as our little boy was, he was stable and functioning well enough to tell us how he felt. – In fact, he was still laughing and shining his infectious smile.
For my wife and I, that was a TOUGH time. Still is. -- Looking back, though, we both agree we needed to experience it. We see the reason.
Regardless of how sick our son was at the time it was not his time to go home. We all have work to do!
Soon thereafter, our gracious pediatrician and friend (with hints of moisture in his eyes) informed us we got there in time. – Life is fragile! Everywhere! All the time!
How true is that!
A Work In Progress...
The rest of our story will have to be told later as we’re still learning and living with our new responsibilities and stewardship.
Words cannot describe how grateful we are to the staff at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, MO for all the genuine care and heartfelt emotion they gave our family. We are forever grateful!
Although juvenile diabetes is a life-changing illness, it can be controlled, managed and survived.
The God we serve is a big God! His purposes are beyond our comprehension. His ways are not our ways. – He has handed this responsibility to us for a purpose. What that purpose is? We do not know…
We do not know what the future holds… we do, however, know WHO holds the future!
This is where we’re at right now.
Our strength and His power will overcome all.