We were on our way to church, on a warm, sunny Sunday morning. Piet asked for his sippy cup for the fourth time that day. I had an extra cup for him, because he was going through so thirsty.
When we finally pulled into church, we discovered he threw up all over himself. It made sense, since he had been drinking so much, but he also peed completely through his diaper. Then I lifted him out of his seat, and he unloaded again. This time all over me.
Now, let me backtrack. Piet was only 20 months old, and just became a proud big brother to Kammie, who was only a month old. Ceci, his older sister, was two. Jacob and I were in straight up survival mode, and couldn’t believe our luck, that we just contracted the dreaded stomach bug.
So, we racked our brains. What could have made him sick? Well, he did eat five packs of oatmeal for breakfast, which sounds crazy, but he has always been a HUGE eater. Eating three packs was pretty standard for our Big Bubba.
Now back to church. We packed our clan up, and headed home since we were all wearing a lovely shade of Piet puke. On the drive, I consulted my favorite doctor, WebMd. Diabetes. I knew it. I cried the whole way home.
I told Jacob what I thought, but he didn’t want to believe it, and I couldn’t blame him. “No way. He doesn’t have diabetes.”
But, I persisted. That afternoon, I reached out to an old friend, who’s daughter was diagnosed at 17 months. He urged me to contact our doctor or go to urgent care. He also included his wife, Mandy, on the messages, and I am forever grateful for them.
Mandy was the first person I turned to after diagnosis. She is the person I share my diabetes wins with. She is the person I go to when I’m afraid. I’m not sure if she knows how much I look up to her, but I do. She makes me want to be the best advocate for T1D that I can be.
The next day, our doctor wasn’t in the office, but they told me to “keep an eye on it.” Which we did, we watched him pee through diapers, drink cup after cup of water, lose weight.
At Kammie’s two month appointment, I brought up Piet. I was worried. He didn’t seem himself. He was crying a lot, not really talking, eating so much, and still drinking constantly. I even said the “D” word. “Keep an eye on it. Probably just a growth spurt.”
No one wants to believe their kid has a chronic illness. I knew. Looking back, I am so angry with myself for not demanding testing. I hate myself. But, I wanted to believe everyone who said “He doesn’t have diabetes” or “You’re being crazy.”
Things got worse yet. He was wasting away. Skin and bones. He didn’t smile, or talk. He only wanted to be held. Jacob took him to the doctor this time. He had lost 5lbs now. He was almost 21 months, so that’s a lot.
The doctor scheduled us for an appointment to see the endocrinologist for eight days from then. Eight days. If we would have waited those eight days, he would be dead now. I wouldn’t have a son. She insisted that testing his blood sugar would be traumatizing.
Three days later, he woke up(thankfully), and I knew immediately we needed to rush him to the ER. As we drove there, we stayed quiet. The only thing I said was, “Are you hoping it’s diabetes and not cancer?” Jacob’s quick response, “Yes.”
The very first thing they did was test his blood sugar. It was simple. An easy finger stick that I’ve done 1 million times now. “He has diabetes.” We were immediately rushed back to a room. The ER doctor came up to us, and said a lot of things that I didn’t understand then, but now I know all the words, and use them daily.
We were still so overwhelmed and scared, and we needed to know we were hearing everything correctly. Through tears, Jacob stated, “Childhood cancer runs in my family.” The doctor quickly responded, “He has type 1 diabetes. He does not have cancer.” That was the last time I cried over diabetes.
Piet was in DKA(diabetic ketoacidosis), and his organs were shutting down. His blood sugar was 555, but I have no doubt it went much higher than that before diagnosis. He weighed 24lbs, and had lost 8lbs.
That next week we stayed at the hospital, and learned about our new life, and type 1 diabetes. Counting carbs, testing blood sugar, giving insulin shots, and more insulin shots, and even more insulin shots.
I feel incredibly fortunate that our endocrinologist is the best endocrinologist in the whole entire world, and that she personally trained the nurses in the pediatric unit. I was getting the same information from everyone.
That next week, Piet ate TONS of food, and immediately put all his weight back on. He peed the normal amount, slept through the night(despite constant finger pricks), and started talking about. WE HAD OUR BUDDY BACK! It was incredible.
He takes type 1 like a champ. Never cries over shots or finger sticks. Doesn’t mind his Omnipod or Dexcom, and wears them proudly, like badges of honor. He is the toughest, bravest, sweetest little boy I know. He is my hero.
Of course this is not where our diabetes story ends, and it’s actually just the beginning. In fact, it is a never ending story, and I will keep writing it as we journey along.