Alex: Happy 16th Birthday

teenage boy with diabetes

Alex was diagnosed on January 6, just 6 months before his 16th birthday. Alex describes his T1 as a bump in the road and says the best advice he was ever given was from our 70 year old neighbor who said, "The way to live a long and healthy life is to get a chronic illness and manage it well." Mr. V has been type 1 for 53 years. Alex has played ice hockey since he was 4. He is number 16 just like his idol, former Philadelphia Flyer Bobby Clarke. Bobby was diagnosed with T1d as a child.

hockey player with type 1

A constant trip to the ER

Or at least that's what the past 16 years have felt like. He is my most active child. This has resulted in 14 stitches (on six different occasions), 1 broken hand, 3 broken collarbones, a torn ACL, a broken leg, five concussions, a broken nose and that's only a few of the adventures that have brought us to Abingtons ER. There were good years of course. Thousands of hockey games, more than a few championships, billions of laughs, trillions of smiles, all from him my second born. The months leading up to this day have been hard ones. I would say as a mother (and I have a few years logged into this) they have been my hardest. I have never seen a kid so sick. He had dark circles under his eyes. He lost 13 pounds in 6 days. It was a struggle just for him to get up to go to the bathroom. I remember thinking out loud "What is this? I know what the flu looks like. This isn't the flu." I also remember my relief when the ER doctor said it was just diabetes. Just diabetes. Im not minimizing it, but in the 45 minutes it took me to get to St.Christophers hospital in Philadelphia, I had him sick with every life ending illness possible. So this is the year "Just diabetes" entered our world. It was a disease that I admittedly knew nothing about. I thought you got it from either being over weight or from eating too much sugar. Bet some of you thought that too. I didn't realize that your pancreas stops producing insulin. There is no reason and there is no cure.

type 1 diabetes

Diabetes has changed us. It has changed him. It has changed how we eat, how we think and what we do. Since January he has had 1,342 injections, about 2,194 finger pricks, endless amounts of doctors visits, high blood sugar readings, and way too many that were so low I worried he would have a seizure (or worse. I try not to think about the worst). He doesn't even know about the nights I sit at the bottom of his bed making sure he is still breathing. It reminds me of when he was an infant (Don't laugh, all new mommies do that), but I thought those days were long behind me. I hate "Just diabetes". I hate opening the cabinet and seeing his needles and his insulin. I hate that clicking noise the meter makes every time he pricks his finger. I hate being a part of this club that we never asked to be in. But you know what I love? The way he has handled it. His favorite saying is "It's whatever, Mom". He doesn't talk about it; he doesn't seem to stress about it. He counts his carbs, pricks his finger, injects his insulin and moves on. I have seen a side to him I didn't know he had. He is honestly stronger and braver than anyone I have ever met. So on this 16th anniversary of the first time he and I were together in Abingtons ER (when he decided there was no need for an epidural or hell, even a doctor) and pushed his way into this world, I would like to wish him a VERY HAPPY 16th birthday.

boys with type 1 diabetes

Alex has never waited for anyone, always taking every challenge on himself . He is number 2 in birth order, but he is second to none. I never thought 16 would be so sweet. 

high school student with diabetes