A little over two years ago, in the fall of 2009, my internal mommy voice started nagging me. It kept insisting "there is something wrong with Ben." Ben is the youngest of my three boys. At the time he had just started 1st grade and was 6 years old. His two older brothers, Garren and Cole, were in 5th and 4th grade. Since school had started I began to notice that Ben started to look tired. He had last his baby fat and started to thin out. He had also seemed to have lost his low-key disposition. After school I would find him fighting with his brothers. Not a normal wrestling, he would become crazed and angry. Granted, his brothers can be very annoying, but they didn't seem to deserve to be attacked. What I didn't realize at the time was that we were watching Ben slowly starve. And that voice inside kept nagging me. But I kept ignoring it because I was still working under the assumption that unless my son was throwing up or had a high fever there was no reason to bring him to the doctor.
The Sunday, October 25th, Cole came to me and said "Mom, there is something wrong with Ben." Ding, Ding, Ding. "Really?! What is it?" Cole told me that he had been watching Ben and he was drinking and peeing too much. I had not noticed that at all. My boys had reached the age that I no longer monitored what they were drinking and I never followed them into the bathroom. Quickly, I was on webMD typing in these symptoms. The site presented me with three possibilities: dehydration, sickle cell anemia, and type 1 diabetes. After doing a quick read through these I figured it had to be Type 1 Diabetes. Funny thing is that even though I had found my son's diagnosis I didn't continue to read and understand what having Type 1 really means.
Like any other worried mother, I went straight to my husband, Jeff, and announced "Ben has Type 1 Diabetes!" And like any other husband of a crazed wife, Jeff told me to get off the computer and Ben would be fine. So that's exactly what I did. It's amazing what power fear and denial have over us. All the evidence was right there in front of me, but I shut my laptop and went to bed.
But denial can only work so long. Monday morning when I woke Ben up to get ready for school I found he had wet his bed. Now, this was no ordinary bed wetting, the spot was larger then Ben himself. I quickly got Ben up and bathed him. Then I let our normal morning rhythm take over. We got breakfast ready, packed his lunch and sent him to school. Again denial working it's magic.
As I was driving to work, my internal mom voice had finally stopped nagging me and instead started screaming, "Call the doctor! Call the doctor!" So I did. I then turned around, picked Ben up at school and went to the doctor, finally.
After describing his symptoms to the nurse practitioner, I still assumed she would just end up telling me "Your son is fine. He has just hit a growth spurt." But thankfully, she was more thorough then that and they took a urine sample. Ben and I sat and waited, expecting to be sent home soon. Instead the nurse practitioner returned and gave me the face. I'll never forget that look. My stomach sank and I knew bad news has coming. She said, "Your son has Type 1 Diabetes." My response, "OK." She then commented on how well I was taking the news. I had explained that I had been on webMD the night before and had already diagnosed him. I, of course, felt vindicated that I had been right the night before. Maybe I had a future as a doctor or a medical professional. Little did I know that that was exactly what was in my future. I was about to become Ben's doctor, nurse, dietitian and pharmacist!
But I was no where near ready, I was still expecting her to tell me that we had to change his diet and that he couldn't eat sweets anymore, and to come back to the office in a couple weeks for a check up. Instead she said "You need to take him to the emergency room." Oh? "And you will be there for awhile so you need to make arrangements for your other boys." Oh? "And you need to do this right now." Oh?! "They need to start giving your son insulin as soon as possible and you will need to learn how to take care of him." What?! Now my head was spinning and just a few minutes before I was feeling so smart.
I asked which hospital we should go to. She gave me a list including Mass General and Children's Hospital. She said all of them would be good. At this point my confidence it totally gone. I had no idea what to do next. So I asked which was the best hospital. Again she explained that they were all good hospitals. Ok, that's just not helping me. "But if this were your son, where would you go?" Eventually, she said she would go to Children's. "OK then, that's where we will go."
October 26, 2009 had now become our DX date. In the T1 circles you are often asked "What is your DX date?" The first time I heard this question it struck me as funny and a little silly. However, now that two years have gone by and we have made it through two D-anniversaries, I understand. It's the date that life as you once understood it ends. The door to that life gets slammed shut right behind you. Then the door to your "new normal" opens. And you along with your T1 child and the rest of your family gets shoved right through it. Our nurse practitioner had just closed one door and opened another. But she didn't shove us through it, Children's Hospital did.