My nephew was diagnosed with diabetes one month before he turned three. I remember Missi and I talking about Ethan's excessive thirst and constant filling of diapers. It was impossible to potty train him because it seemed he would have to be in the bathroom all day. Also, Ethan was very hungry. I don't remember ever seeing a kid that hungry all the time. I asked her if she thought he was diabetic. She nodded.
It took two weeks for Ethan to be diagnosed with diabetes. At one appointment, Missi has giving Ethan a peanut butter sandwich. The nurse practitioner checked his blood, and he was 80 (which is somewhat normal for a normal person). She lectured my sister in overfeeding her son and wrote some nasty things in my sister's chart.
Missi was angry, but she really trusted her own gut. She started monitoring Ethan's blood sugar on our grandma's glucose monitoring - sure to change needles for sanitation. One morning she checked him at Grandma's apartment, and the monitor read "HI." Mom called a family friend who was a lab tech - she told Missi to rush to the E.R. - his sugars were at least 600.
At the E.R., they gave Missi a syringe filled with insulin and sent her on her way.
Now, this was confusing.... Missi knew that she would bring Ethan to the doctor in the morning, but she had never administered a shot. Something seemed wrong.
As Missi was driving home, another doctor from the ER called her. Turns out he was paying attention. He called the hospital in Grand Forks and had Ethan admitted. Missi went home packed Ethan up and spent the next three days being trained on how to be a diabetic's mom.
Since the summer of 2002, there has been many breakthroughs in diabetes. Ethan got his first pump in 2006. With the pump, Ethan has gained a lot of independence and control over his diabetes. The pump acts just like an artificial pancreas. Insulin is pumped continuously into his system at regular intervals - pretty awesome, eh?
But of course, not as awesome as a real pancreas.
One evening last fall, Missi had been up late with Mykayla. Mykayla had been throwing up a lot and laying around. She had an uneasy feeling. She called the doctor in the middle of the night wondering if she should just check Mykayla's blood sugar on Ethan's machine. The doctor agreed. Mykayla's sugar count was at 431.
If you've never dealt with diabetes, you might think that she could have a high blood sugar because she was sick - but if you are a diabetic mother, you know that no one has a blood sugar of 431 without being a Type 1 Diabetic.
Mykayla was three when she was diagnosed. She was pretty P.O.ed that Missi was giving her shots and checking her blood. She yelled at Missi and told her; "I don't have diabetes; you do!"
Eventually, she got used to the shots and is expecting her first pump next month! Hooray!
What's it like to be a mother of a diabetic? Well, you know when you're kids are sick? And you're up with them two or three times a night because they're puking and you never get enough sleep? Well - imagine that every night. Missi and Mark have to monitor their kids levels every three hours making sure they don't have a dangerous low...
What's it like to be the sister of a diabetic? Well, Mariah, Missi and Mark's middle child does not have diabetes. She keeps an eye out for her older brother and little sister. The other day, she told Missi that she's mad at Ethan because he gave Mykayla diabetes. Even though she didn't get that part right, Mariah knows a bunch of medical terms and procedures that most adults don't even have a clue about.
The only break Missi and Mark get is when Ethan goes to Camp Sioux for five days. Camp Souix's counselors are nurses and pediatricians. When Mykayla is old enough to go, I imagine that will be the first complete night sleep that Missi and Mark will have had since Ethan was diagnosed in 2002.
Last week, I added a link on the left side of my feed for the event "Step-Up for Diabetes." This event raises money for the American Diabetes Association who helps kids like Ethan and Mykayla deal with their diabetes. The event also helps raise money for Camp Sioux to defray the costs of the two, five day camps.
So- we've got our day planned out in October - where we'll meet at the Alerus Center in honor of Ethan and Mykayla- and Step-Up for Diabetes.