Welcome to our JDRF Walk to Cure Diabetes Team Page! We are taking the steps to help achieve JDRF?s mission: to find a cure for diabetes and its complications through the support of research.
December 22nd 2009, our perfect five year old son was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. When this news was first delivered to me, I was alone with Will at an unfamiliar doctor's office in Orange County, California. We were in California visiting family; we made a special trip for Christmas that year, because my mother in law, Cathy, had just had a double mastectomy due to her recent breast cancer diagnosis. This was a very emotional time because we were all so worried about Cathy. Little did we know what we had in store for us with Will.
Cathy underwent surgery two weeks before Christmas. We were all devastated, and just wanted to see her, and make everything OK. So, immediately, with little to no discussion, we booked a trip to California so she could spend Christmas with Brady (our then 8 year old son) and Will (our then 5 year old son, and little did we know, his world was about to turn upside down.) To Cathy, her grandchildren are the world. And that year, we wanted to give her the world. She is courageous, thoughtful, and one of the strongest women we know. We wanted to show our appreciation, and admiration.
Before we left the Minnesota tundra, we noticed that Will seemed tired, lethargic, and his skin was very dry. We thought he had a bad cold, or some other mysterious childhood bug and just kept making sure he was eating and drinking. He was eating and drinking all right. He was eating twice the amount of food that he normally eats, and drinking all the time. We thought, "wow, he must be going through a growth spurt!" He was also sleeping a lot, and sleeping hard. He was sleeping so hard that he was soaking the bed night after night with urine. Again, we thought he had a little bug, and we thought he was going through a growth spurt. We hopped on the airplane and flew from Minneapolis to Los Angeles on a direct flight, hoping the warm weather would knock out whatever bug Will had in his system-no problem, right? But we were so wrong.
Cathy took one look at Will and thought something wasn't right. I think it took someone else seeing him, that hadn't seen him in a few months to notice that he had dark circles under his eyes, that he was truly peeing way more than a normal child, and that he just didn't seem like himself. Hearing her feedback, and recalling some of Marc's observations in that last few months, "Nickie, there is something wrong with this kid," ringing in my ears like an annoying cell phone going off in a crowded theatre. I called home to our pediatric clinic, and the voice on the phone, a trusted voice told me, "I don't want to alarm you, but you have to get him to a pediatrician today." My stomach dropped down to my feet. I was his mother, and I didn't even notice how sick he was. What kind of mother was I? That day, I knew we were going to hear some bad news. I walked in to the unfamiliar doctor's office, my hand was shaking as I signed Will in for his appointment. As we waited for the appointment, I googled the word, "Diabetes" from my phone, still in denial, and Will had every symptom. I was praying they would just send me away saying I was over reacting. I have overreacted in the past with sniffles and coughs. Please let this be one of those times. Please send us away, and roll your eyes at me for overreacting; he can't have diabetes.
We gave a sample of urine and within 5 minutes, our world was forever changed. The doctor, who had never seen me before, became my shoulder to cry on. She gave me a whole box of tissues for my purse (thank goodness my purse is practically the size of a suitcase) and sent us across the street to the children's hospital admissions. I tried calling Marc; over and over. I couldn't get him on the phone. He was working that day in Los Angeles and had his phone turned off. I was alone in California, with my son, and just received the scariest piece of news I have ever received. Millions and millions of thoughts raced through my head like the Indy 500. The thoughts were going so fast that I couldn't even grasp one to just feel it through. Will he have to have shots? What will he do if he ever wants to drink alcohol (hey, don't judge me, we are in the wine business afterall;)? ) How will we ever handle this? Will he outgrow this? Will we be able to handle this? What did we do wrong?
Finally, I got in touch with Marc. It really didn't seem real until I told him. It all seemed like a big mistake or misunderstanding. When Marc finally got to the hospital, and I could see his face, and see that he understood the pain I felt for our son-then it was real. We both wished we could take this from him. I even asked God to give diabetes to me. I have lived a life. 33 years of a life, and I know I could handle it. Please don't make my boy have to handle it. That prayer didn't work.
We spent two days in the hospital getting educated on diabetes. We found out it was nothing we did to cause it; nothing we didn't do, and nothing we could have done to prevent it from happening. Will's immune system, in a nutshell, saw the beta cells in his pancreas as "enemies" and began attacking. Now Will no longer produces his own insulin to break down his food, and must rely on multiple daily insulin injections to survive. Talk about the rug being pulled out from under you.
We learned how to poke fingers, check blood sugar, and administer injections. We also learned to count carbs, and study food labels. It was a two day intense Diabetes boot camp. People kept saying things to me like, "kids are resilient," and I felt like punching them in the face. Yeah, kids are resilient, but why should any kid have to go through this-it is not fair. I wished, with every ounce of energy I had, that I could just take this all away.
We found out Will is resilient. No longer do I feel like punching the daylights out of people for saying, "kids are resilient." Will has more courage than I could ever imagine. The support from family and friends has warmed our hearts, and brought us all closer. We hug a little longer now, we smile through our hearts, and walk with our heads high. We have a fighter, a warrior in our family who has made us all better, stronger, and kinder people.
Type 1, or juvenile diabetes, is a devastating disease that affects millions of people, a large and growing percentage of them children.
There is some good news, though. JDRF is our best hope for finding a cure. It funds more type 1 diabetes research than any other charity worldwide and it's making progress along many promising paths toward better treatments and a cure.
Now, more than ever, you can make a crucial difference. Won't you please give to JDRF as generously as possible? Together, we can make the cure a reality!
Please consider joining our team, or donating to a wonderful cause.
|Will Power! - Carrigan - Join Team||Raised|
|Denotes a Team Captain|
Anita & Steve Irland
Ben, Kristin and girls
Brian and leah Silk
Buzz and Mary Weatherly
Carol & Rich Feneis
Daniella, John, & Nico
Mr. and Mrs. Jim and Carol Theisen
Mr. John James Theisen
Mrs. Audra D McAlpine
Mrs. Sara Keough
Papa and Suzie
Paul Theisen matching donation
The Pitonyak Family