March 22, 2010: A Day I Will Never Forget
Merrick was 16 months old at that time. He had been doing a few unusual things, such as drinking lots and wetting lots, but these were things we thought we could easily explain or attribute to other explainable causes. These things seemed to persist, and we decided better to be safe than sorry. We made Merrick an appointment for a routine pediatric check-up.
The morning of the appointment came and Merrick was seemingly lethargic. I knew that something was not right. After an exam and some blood work we received the following news: go home, pack your bags, and go quickly to Dell Children's Hospital. The endocrinologist on call is expecting you. You will have a long road ahead of you.
Merrick's blood glucose level was over 400 (normal is around 90), and we were told that he had Type 1 Diabetes. It was then that my world shattered.
Merrick spent the following 5 days in the hospital, three of which were in the pediatric intensive care unit. Medical staff worked to stabilize his body after being in diabetic ketoacidosis, a serious complication associated with diabetes. We lived at the hospital with him, seldom leaving his side. And, we worked extensively with a Certified Diabetes Educator to learn everything we possibly could about caring for a person with T1D. I remember thinking to myself at the time, Merrick will never be "well". This wasn't something we were at the hospital to get treated and go home all better. This was something he, and we, would carry with us the rest of his life: a chronic autoimmune disease.
Here we are three years later. Diabetes management has become our way of life. What, exactly, does this mean? This means that we must continuously monitor Merrick's blood glucose levels. We prick his fingers to do this, 5 times per day on a good day, but usually more. Merrick gets a minimum of 4 insulin injections per day, but sometimes up to 6. I won't do the math for you, but the number of times he has to get poked daily is impressive. I stand in awe of the strength of my child.
We have become carbohydrate counting gurus, of sorts! We have kept logs of every meal Merrick has eaten since diagnosis for the purpose of counting carbohydrates and determining insulin doses. We weigh and measure most everything he eats for the same reason.
We manage this disease around the clock, as it is a disease that never sleeps. We wake at 2 A.M. every morning to check his blood glucose. On a good night we have to do nothing. On a not so good night we have to wake Merrick and give him a snack (to combat a 'low') or a shot (to combat a 'high').
These diabetes management responsibilities will gradually transition to Merrick and become his own as he gets older. However, we will be always be a family team working to manage T1D.
Speaking of team, this year we are forming a team to walk in the JDRF Walk to Cure Diabetes. We want friends and family to show Merrick how much they support him, and we would love to raise some money for an organization that is important to our family.
JDRF is the leading global organization funding T1D research, providing more than $110 million for research in 2012. Currently JDRF is funding more than 50 clinical trials. They maintain one of the best records among nonprofits of using supporters' contributions effectively, with more than 80% of their expenditures directly supporting research and research-related education. WE WANT TO HELP THEM!
Please JOIN US on walk day, October 27! Everyone has a reason to walk, and Merrick is mine!
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Alyssa, Kai, Lily
Judy & Gwynn