"Am I going to die?" asked a fearful 11 year-old on the way to the ER at Children's Hospital.
We made a walk-in clinic appointment Monday August 8th, 2011 after hearing Granny's concern that Zach was up six times throughout the night to use the bathroom over the weekend and that Gramps spent $18 on drinks at Vikings Training Camp to quench Zach's insatiable thirst (it's hard to get my dad to pay for water). A WebMD search before making the appointment led to the prediction that this was a bladder infection and we'd leave with a quick antibiotic prescription. After all, Zach said he felt fine and had plans to return to the play date that we picked him up from. When the tearful doctor came in the room and told us Zach had diabetes and needed to go immediately to the hospital, we didn't quite comprehend what she was saying. We had to head directly to the ER without passing go.
The scariest part about that drive to the hospital was that we had to answer our young, full-of -life son's question with "I don't know".
After three days in the hospital and multiple education sessions since then, we are adjusting to our 'new normal' and have learned much more about what the diagnosis of type 1 (insulin-dependent) diabetes means. It is an auto-immune disease with no known cause that affects only 5-10% of those with diabetes. Zach's pancreas has stopped producing insulin, a hormone that enables people to use sugar from food to make energy. In order for him to survive, he must take multiple injections of insulin every day for the rest of his life. With any carbohydrate containing food, he has to count, measure and eat a controlled amount to match his injection. He pricks his finger a minimum of four times per day (and sometimes in the middle of the night) to monitor his blood sugar, and then either injects insulin or eats carbohydrates to keep his number within a healthy range. He has to keep a blood sugar testing meter, test strips, emergency carbohydrates, and temperature-sensitive insulin with him at all times when at home or in the community and visit the nurse at least twice daily at school.
Throughout this whole experience, our family has learned about how much we mean to each other. When our nurses informed us that Zach could have visitors, the first person he wanted was his brother, Alex. When returning home later that night, Alex confided in me, "that poor kid. What else is God going to give him to deal with?" Quite the departure from the typical fighting and bickering we were used to. When Zach returned home from the hospital, we prayed around the dinner table. Zach's prayer: "Thank you God for helping us catch this before it became too serious and that it's no big deal, it just a new normal." His positive outlook has been a daily inspiration for us.
Insulin provides life support so our active son can continue with sports, friends and hobbies. He has amazed us throughout this process with his spirit and positive attitude toward learning about and living with this disease. The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) is working hard to find a cure so we can confidently tell our son that diabetes is no longer a daily threat to his life; or to the lives of the other 3 million Americans living with type 1 diabetes.
Jessie and I have each committed to raising $2000 and completing the 100 mile ride in LaCrosse on August 18th. We'll compete in training and fundraising, but will cross the finish line as a team! Please donate as generously as possible to help me reach my goal while helping JDRF realize the ultimate goal of making Zachary needle-free by finding a cure for diabetes! You can make a tax deductible donation via credit card on my page, or mail a check made out to JDRF to Scott or Jessica Engman 1997 Campbell Circle White Bear Lake, MN 55110.
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Mr. Scott A Engman
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