In the fall of 2013 our active, social, vibrant, cheerful, and athletic 4 year old son caught a bad virus. It seemed like even after the virus was gone he was not fully recovered. He started drinking a lot. He would drink the entire content's of a large water bottle, use the bathroom, ask for a refill, drink it, and make a return trip to the bathroom. At this time his preschool had noticed many trips to the bathroom but did not mention it to us at the time.
I started researching causes of sudden onset extreme thirst in toddlers and the result that always came up was Type 1 Diabetes. One of my college roommates had Type 1, so I was familiar with it. I was hoping this is not what he had. No one in either my extended family or my husband’s extended family had any type of diabetes. There is also no family history of autoimmune disorders.
However, the longer these symptoms persisted the more I started to worry. After our son wet his bed, two nights in a row, I decided it was time to see the doctor, since he had never wet his bed. The scheduler did not have any open appointments, but after hearing the symptoms had us speak with a nurse who squeezed him in late in the afternoon. Our son was diagnosed with Type 1 in the office of our family doctor after a day of playing outside making snowmen. His A1C was 10.2 and his blood glucose level was 663. We were to go home, pack a bag for a few days and report to the children’s floor of the local hospital. Luckily he was not in full-blown DKA and we only had to stay one night. He was discharged on 12-31-2013 and we went home to start a new year that was new in a really big way.
Our son has now lived with Type 1 for almost 2 years. He checks his glucose level via finger poke7-8 times a day. He now uses an insulin pump that delivers insulin without daily injections, but he is attached to his insulin pump 24 hours a day via a tube and needle that gets changed every 2-3 days. He has not let it slow him down. It has not been easy for him or for our family, but we have tried to keep our lives as normal as possible. He played soccer the summer after diagnosis and in the fall after diagnosis he started playing Mite I hockey. Last year he also participated in a cross-country ski program and this spring he played his first year of t-ball. He played soccer again this summer and he is now in his second year of hockey. He just loves sports.
One of the big challenges we encountered was sending him off to kindergarten and trusting he would be safe. After a bad experience in considering enrollment at a nearby public charter school without a nurse, we luckily found that our neighborhood public school has a wonderful school nurse who understands the needs of a child with Type 1. I wish all schools had nurses with an understanding of Type 1 Diabetes. We are so grateful that our school does.
I am also grateful that our clinic took our concerns seriously and did not put off our appointment until after the holiday. Some children with Type 1 are misdiagnosed and end up in the emergency room unconscious and near death before it is recognized that they have Type 1 Diabetes.
We are also extremely grateful that our son is a trooper and keeps an amazingly good attitude about the way his life has so dramatically changed. He is still the charming, thoughtful boy we knew before and he still has one of the world’s most winning smiles. We continue to support the development of new treatments and are thankful for new technology, but ultimately we are waiting for a cure.