It occurred to me earlier that today is the 4th anniversary of my step son’s diabetes diagnosis. He was pretty sick the day before and had gone to the doctor with his dad. They were told it was just a virus. He stayed home from school on the 13th and I was working from home so I was with him.
He was so sick, but I kept focusing on what his doctor told him. I shouldn’t have. I should have realized the doctor was an incompetent quack and taken him to the hospital right away. I should not have hesitated at all. Fortunately for all of us, Jen came home from work at lunch time, took one look at him, and took him to the hospital. An ER nurse at Holy Family in Methuen knew right away what was wrong. We were relieved. Okay, so he’s diabetic but they’ll straighten him out and he’ll be fine. That nurse looked at us like we were the most naive idiots on Earth, and we pretty much were.
He got an ambulance ride into Boston. Jen went with him and I drove down alone. They checked him into the ER and we waited by his side for some sign of improvement. It didn’t come. At least not right away. The lowest low point came when we realized how scared his ER doctor was. She told us he was at risk of heart damage and it dawned on us just how serious the situation was. We literally almost lost him.
Eventually they moved him from the ER to an ICU ward and that was our home for a few days. Slowly but surely he started coming back to us. Once his numbers were back under control the focus turned to education. They taught us everything he was going to need to do to manage his diabetes. We learned how to take blood sugar readings and how to load up the syringe and how to give him his insulin shots. We were given a detailed protocol for how to determine how much insulin he needs and how to handle situations where his numbers would go out of whack again. We learned how to spot low blood sugar periods and high blood sugar periods. It was high blood sugar that put him into the hospital but we learned that his case was extreme and normal high moments are actually less scary than normal low moments.
A couple of years later he told us that he has little to no memory of the events of those few days. Good. It was the most terrifying experience of my life and I wouldn’t wish those memories on anyone. Jen and I will remember everything for him. He has enough to worry about on his own, he doesn’t need that as well.
The silver lining to this story is the way he rose to the challenge. Managing diabetes is a bitch and a half and little 12 year old Harry handled it like a boss from day one. I will never be able to adequately explain how proud I am of him. Really. I would have broken like a twig under the strain of his day to day health care routine and he just shines. Sure there are times when we get nervous about his glucose levels. He’s too high, or he’s too low, or this or that. He gets annoyed with us. Understandably. We worry enough to be annoying. Maybe someday he’ll be someone’s dad and he’ll have some idea of why we stress the way we do. Until then, go ahead and be annoyed. You’ve earned it.