My friend Becky Campbell wrote this two years ago at my request. I was writing for a parenting blog and wanted to include some useful content about diabetes. 6 days after Becky’s post was published, TheKid was diagnosed. Becky has been a wonderful source of support to me and Hubs ever since.
November is Diabetes Awareness Month. Cue the blue circles and the grey ribbons on Facebook. As the parent of a child with Type 1 (formerly Juvenile) Diabetes, I find this at once heartening and depressing. It’s heartening that for a month or so, people might pay attention to the signs and symptoms presented by so many, yet depressing because I wish I’d known what to look for – what I was SEEING – before my son was diagnosed seven and a half years ago, at age 13.
For several months before diagnosis, “T” had been exhausted. (Well, teenagers sleep their lives away, right?) He was drinking gallons of water, daily. (Water’s good for an athletic person, right?) I heard him up in the bathroom over night, which was a new development. One thing I didn’t see was how thin he’d become. I thought he was starting to lose what was left of his baby fat. (Afterward, one of the dads from his soccer team told me that when he first saw “T” after the break between seasons, he was shocked to see how thin he was.) Turns out, he’d lost 10% of his body weight.
About the time I started to put everything together, I got a call from his school’s clinic aide, urging me to have him checked out. We got an appointment the next day with the pediatrician who’d known him all his life, who checked him out and scheduled him for fasting blood work the next morning. We’d discussed the possibility of diabetes, but she said he didn’t really fit the “profile.” As an afterthought, she decided to check his blood glucose level with a simple finger stick. The reading came back “HI” which indicates a blood glucose level of over 600 mg/dL. Normal is 80-120. The doctor looked at us and told us to go home, pack a bag, and go to the emergency room. NOW.
At the ER, it was confirmed that “T” had Type 1 Diabetes. Type 1 is an autoimmune disease, and no matter what ANYONE tells you, it can’t be prevented OR cured, at least at this time. It’s not a result of eating too much sugar. It can’t be fixed through diet and/or exercise.
These are the symptoms I wish I’d know to watch for (as simplified and condensed by Diabetes UK):
Along with knowing these symptoms, I urge parents to trust their instincts. Type 1 Diabetes can happen to ANYONE, ANYTIME. Type 1 strikes in infancy, childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. The more we know about Type 1, the more it will become recognized and understood. Trust your gut.