Just 1 1/2 years ago my sister received devastating news. . . . her son had Type 1 Diabetes. I am walking in the JDRF walk this year to help raise money to find a cure so my nephew will have a better life and hopefully live without Type 1 Diabetes again. The following is his story:
In September of 2012, Brevin was 2 ½. He was having a hard time being two, we thought. He was busy, strong willed and determined and openly expressed himself if he was displeased. Most of all he was busy, into everything and always moving.
That year he had had several illnesses where he would get a fever and then cold symptoms, strange because not all of my other kids got sick like that. The beginning of September he started to have even worse behavior than usual, especially when we were outside or there was any kind of physical activity. He would ask for a bottle of water and if I did not have it he would have a meltdown that would result in a temper tantrum and result in tears.
He was not potty trained at the time and also was wetting the bed through his diaper 2-3 times a night. I went through a case of diapers in a week and was washing sheets every day. I was concerned. I had worked in the medical field most of my married life and was aware of some of the symptoms of diabetes, but that was not what this was, was it? He was a little kid and diabetes was an older person’s disease or a disease of the obese. I mentioned the symptoms to my husband and he said it was probably just the fact that there were lots of fires going on around us and it was still hot this time of year and he was probably just thirsty. I did not know exactly how much water he was drinking because he could help himself with the dispenser in the fridge.
I reassured myself, but this continued for a few more weeks. I again mentioned it to my husband and he said that if I was worried I should take him in to have him checked. Brevin still needed his last immunizations, so I called and made a well- baby appointment for him to get these. While I was there I mentioned his symptoms to the PA who was attending to us. He said that they could to a simple finger prick or we could take a urine sample cup home and try to get a urine sample. Since we had just gotten his immunization, I thought I would save him any more trauma and get the urine sample and bring it back. At the time Brevin was still in diapers, so it took a few days of taking baths to get a urine sample. When we took it back to the clinic he was spilling 500 mg of glucose in his urine and a finger prick reading was too high to register on the meter.
They immediately sent us to Idaho Falls to see an endocrinologist specialist and prepped the hospital as a lot of times children who are diagnosed with diabetes are in ketoacidosis, a condition where the sugars have been so high that it causes flu-like symptoms and vomiting and diarrhea and they need to spend a few days in the hospital to get things equalized.
Luckily when we got down to the endocrinologists office, we did not need to go to the hospital. He was stable and was able to function without the immediate care. Then began our education. Brevin had type I diabetes. Apparently he had gotten an illness and when his body went to fight off that illness the beta cells in the pancreas also had similar markers as the virus did, so the body killed off the virus cells as well as the beta cells in his pancreas. We would have to provide Brevin with insulin and diet observation for the rest of his life or until a cure is found. They taught us how to give injections, count carbs and figure out the ratios of carbs and insulin. We also learned that everything affects the insulin level in the body. Exercise, illness, stress all have a profound effect on insulin. We also learned that sugar isn’t just candy. It is all carbs, bread, pasta, fruit; anything with carbohydrates can be changed to sugar by the body.
The first month was hard. We both cried a lot. I did not want to have to give him shots, and of course he did not want to receive shots. We were open with him and told him that if he did not get a shot he could die. Too much sugar in your body without insulin is fatal. We also told him how lucky we were to live in a time when we had insulin and doctors and could easily manage something like this. I mourned for a couple of days the ease and enjoyment he could have had with childhood, eating candy at will, not worrying about birthday parties, or school treats. But then I realized that we all need to pay attention more to how much sugar we put in our bodies and this may be a blessing to our whole family, putting a microscope on our eating habits and helping us all eat less sugar.
As we started treating Brevin and managing his diet, he started to have less mood swings and melt downs. He stopped wetting though his diaper at night and we were eventually able to potty train him. We have been very open with Brevin about diabetes and he is amazing to watch. He willingly lets the doctors draw vein blood for his A1C every 3 months and does not complain about shots. He has even at times been willing to help give himself a shot. We try to make life as normal as possible. We let him have candy, but also regulate it. He usually has it with meals so it is easier to manage the injections. The key is to make life normal and not deprive him of things like treats and candy so that he does not go crazy when he is older and is on his own. We need to teach him moderation and management and that seems to be working pretty well.
Brevin being diagnosed with diabetes has been a great learning experience for our own family. It has drawn us closer and we all take part in the responsibility of taking care of him. All of my kids know how to check blood sugar and they all report what he eats so that we can count the carbs. Brevin has grown several inches since he was diagnosed and is a strong and healthy young boy. His business has changed to curiosity and desire for learning. We will be getting him a pump by the end of the summer and teaching Brevin his numbers so that he can start to take an active part in his diabetes management.
If you have the ability to donate your time or money to this great cause it would be so appreciated!