The day that changed my life

The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind, the kind that blind side you at 4pm on some idle Tuesday. Baz Luhrman – Wear Sunscreen

This is the quote that came to mind when the nurse conclusively diagnosed my son as having type 1 diabetes.

Although it had crossed our mind several times over the years, including the last few days that prompted our action, I had never really believed it would become a tangible reality. Thoroughly taking the ‘it happens to someone else’ approach.

Mrs Berg has a sixth sense about these things though, although that’s not giving her the credit she deserves. Instead it is more accurate to say that Mrs Berg is very good at diagnosis. And therefore after a week on holiday with constant visits to the toilet, and his head in the sink glugging down water, we booked a doctors appointment.

In the doctors office Mrs Berg insisted that he was tested for diabetes.

I received a phone call from Mrs Berg in tears to explain that our son was being rushed to hospital, his blood glucose level had been in the 30’s and he needed urgent attention. At this point I had no idea how serious this was, or what a blood glucose level was. I rushed to the hospital anyway. To be with my son. My normal 7 year old. What I didn’t realise was that it would seem that the little boy I had got dressed this morning would disappear, and that we would all at some point mourn his loss.

This is not strictly true, but it is a feeling that translated our thoughts over the next couple of months.

For now I sat by my son holding his anxious hand, trying to reassure him that the needle won’t hurt very much. He has a fear of needles, something that I now find ironic. After his tests and a long wait, we are finally told what we didn’t want to hear. He was confirmed with Type 1 Diabetes, he would have to stay in hospital until his blood sugars were stable.

It was like a serene bubble. I was not upset, I don’t think I understood fully what it meant. Even Mrs Berg was speechless. When one of the kids is in hospital, I go home with the other 4 and Mrs Berg stays with the one staying in. For me this was a chance to go home and think. But my wife had to stay, these first couple of days were the worst, because we were apart and bombarded.

When I finally got to her only the next day, it was the first time I had seen her so ashen faced, and distraught. It was one of the few times I had seen her voluntarily leave the hospital to go home and rest. It was my turn to stay in with my son. After only a few hours it was easy to see why.

Even with the time I had had to get my head round it, I was still left feeling overwhelmed within the first couple of hours. Diabetes, I soon found, was a very time consuming, involved disease, that required constant management. Like a good father I was determined to do whatever I could to learn everything I could about his condition. It turns out that this is a lot.

First the procedure of the blood sugar tests. Which at this stage involved pinning my son down each time. Followed by lots of sobbing. These occurred round the clock. 2am, 5am, 8am, the poor lad never got a rest. Then, also intermittent injections of insulin, with bigger needles. Members of the diabetic team came round with long talks/lessons about diabetes. We even attended a seminar about diabetes.

This was all in the one night I was there. No wonder Mrs Berg needed time at home. By the time my shift was done I had enough paperwork to rival any text book.

We were just in shock, and the more we heard about diabetes the more upset we got.
But, Mrs Berg was back, she had time to have a cry and get settled enough to come back fighting. I had had a rest and had begun my education, I was a lot better informed. Most importantly my son had started to accept that he had to have needles poked in him, and that this was not going to stop.

I would like to thank at this stage the Diabetes Team in the hospital. They have been (and continue to be) such a valuable support group during what was our families darkest hour. They went through everything we needed to know, provided reassurance, counselling, and guidance. Putting true emphasis on the person who mattered, my son, and making him feel comfortable and at ease with the thing that changed his life so rapidly.
They set out a plan, provided free equipment and lessons in how to manage his condition.

Today we still have weekly appointments and still have so much to learn.

In our time in hospital we learned a lot about diabetes but we didn’t realise at the time how much more was still to come. However it changed us into something new, an ambassador for our child, against diabetes. Devoted to managing our sons life long condition.

So that was the day my life changed, our families life changed, but it was just the beginning.

Ultimately I am today left feeling grateful that my son has something that I can help and contribute to help manage for him. The disease did come out of the blue, and I could have been left without a son to look after. This way I can work towards helping my son, and feel that my actions go towards making his life better.

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