Tuesday, April 05, 2005

A Little History

So, I realize I started this blog sort of in the middle of things. Talking about basal rates, bolusing and blood sugars without really telling how we got here. I guess "here" is just over seven months post diagnosis. Astonishingly, Joseph is still considered "newly diagnosed." It feels more like we've been doing this forever. Although, every once in a while I'll come across a photo of him before he became diabetic. And it's almost like a blow.

Last August, I was preparing to go back east to visit my family. All six of my siblings and their families live in Massachusetts. On Monday the 16th-- just five days before I was scheduled to fly out with Joseph and Evan-- my younger sister Teresa called to tell me that our older sister Mary had breast cancer. It was good that I was coming out on Saturday.

On Tuesday, still reeling from the news about my sister, I received a call from a close friend here in Wisconsin. It seems that her 4-year old son had suffered an unexplained seizure that lasted nine hours and was only brought to a halt by putting her child into a medically-induced coma. Jan (that's the mom) was at the UW Hospital with her son. At this point I remember saying that if anything else happens my head is simply going to explode.

All this time I worried about the fact that Joseph had recently begun wetting the bed.

Bedwetting or "enuresis" runs in my family. My younger brother experienced this very same problem as a child. For the first two weeks I felt sure that's what it was. After all, Joseph was eight-- a common age for this issue. He seemed fine. Maybe a little thirstier than usual, but it was summer. He certainly wasn't guzzling water, just coming inside for frequent drinks. And he did need to pee an awful lot, but then again, he was drinking all that water...

But then I thought he looked a little thinner. Joseph's a lean kid anyway, but one morning during that awful week, his collar bone looked more prominent than it should. Ryan said "he's probably going through a growth spurt. " That was always his pattern-- a little paunch, thin out, then shoot up. But I brought the stick up out of the basement-- the one we use to mark off Joseph's height. He hadn't grown since the last mark. Two months earlier.

I looked on the internet. Scoured sites that discussed bedwetting. I'm a real research junky. If there is a question about anything, especially a health issue, I will search for the answers I need on the web. And I will be thorough. And yet, whenever I saw the word diabetes highlighted on any of those enuresis sites-- and there were many-- I ignored it. I never clicked on that link. I wouldn't even look at the symptoms. I wouldn't, that is, until I spoke again with my sister Teresa that Wednesday. I told her about Joseph and my concerns. Immediately she said I should have him checked for diabetes. Her sister-in-law's son was diabetic. She was very familiar with the signs. Then she got another call and put me on hold. I hung up the phone, went online to a bookmarked site on bedwetting. I clicked on the link.

Joseph's pediatric office agreed that, given his symptoms, he should be seen before our trip. I was to bring him in the next day-- Thursday, August 19th. That night Ryan assured me that our son did not have diabetes. But then I reminded him of what he told me the previous week-- that my sister did not have breast cancer.

The next morning I told Joseph we were going to see his doctor that afternoon, but first we would go shoe shopping. He needed new athletic shoes before the start of school in two weeks. Joseph, Evan and I had a great time. The kids tried on shoes and ran around the store. It just seemed so normal. Really, nothing could be wrong with my son.

Ryan came home for lunch so that he could take care of Evan while I took Joseph in for his appointment. The resident who first examined Joseph didn't seem too impressed with his symptoms. He had only lost two pounds since his last visit. Nothing to be concerned about. "It's possible he has a UTI" (that's what I told Joseph, that's what I'd hoped it was). Next, Dr. Edmonson came in, handed Joseph a small plastic cup, and asked him to go to the restroom and bring back a sample. Joseph was very quick. And so was the doctor. Not five minutes passed before the doctor was back in the room-- telling us there was sugar in Joseph's urine.

"He has diabetes. We'll do a blood test as well, but even if it comes back normal, the sugar in his urine almost always means diabetes."

A nurse came in next and poked his finger with a lancet. She squeezed the tip of his finger until a small bubble of blood appeared. Then she placed his finger so that it almost touched the end of a strip that had been inserted into a glucose meter.

5 - 4 - 3 - 2 - 1.

Joseph's blood sugar was 482. I broke down. So did Joseph. He cried, saying that he didn't want to have diabetes. "Mom, I'm scared."

We held each other, having absolutely no idea what this all meant.

1 comment:

Penny said...

You always seem to make me cry. I know this is an old post, but I decided to go back and start reading your posts from the beginning. The part about you looking at pictures really got me. Right now I'll see pictures of Riley pre-diabetes and it kind of stops me in my tracks. I just think I never knew what was coming and neither did he.