” We are going to run a blood test and I want to prepare you. It is probably Type 1 Diabetes.”
These were the words Dad and I heard last Wednesday morning come out of the emergency doctor on call’s mouth at our local children’s hospital, a doctor who we knew from our autism family life. He used to teach years ago for an adapted program at a pool Michael went too. Thank God. I remember thinking. We will be ok. He knows how to handle kids with autism and will figure out what is wrong, I remember thinking. It’s good they are checking about diabetes to “rule this out.” How could Michael’s complaint of a sore throat, low energy an excruciating stomach pain with no bowel movement for many days means diabetes? We would obviously still learn about all the classic signs we had missed over the summer that pointed to that fateful Wednesday evening when Michael woke up in so much pain and nothing could help. But I also tried to prepare myself for it as best as I could. I knew one thing about diabetes. It was lifelong, but he would be able to live with treatment.
The next hour was a whirlwind of confirmation that Michael indeed had Type 1 Diabetes and that his body was in a classic shock state where it reaches when diabetes is poorly treated (or is unknown to the parents as in our case) called “Diabetic Ketoacidosis.” It is apparently the classic way kids are brought into emergency wards by parents who do not know that they have diabetes, but are presenting with labored breathing, fatigue, vomiting, and extreme abdominal pain. Michael had all of the above that had been progressing over the course of August. We put everything down to tiredness, a virus and nerves for school coming. When he started breathing heavily telling us it helped the pain in his stomach, we assumed it was severe constipation. He had not had a movement in almost 5 days, so we tried remedies for that as well as giving him Children’s Tylenol. When it all failed, Dad called an emergency health line where a nurse told us to go immediately to a nearby hospital. And there we were. Only after we realized that had we waited a little longer to act, Michael could have lost consciousness and possibly gone into a coma.
The next four days passed in a whirl of Michael’s body healing from the acid buildup in his blood, regaining his strength, and Dad and I coming to terms with the diabetes as well as learning about our new team to add to Michael’s existing autism team. Our new team that would help us adjust to caring for and teaching a child with diabetes how to live a healthy life. Everyone was amazing, and we have had our ups and downs as a family, but we are getting there. Michael was discharged over the weekend, and Dad and I cannot believe how like his old self he is. The Michael we saw over the summer was quieter, slept a lot more, and was not as talkative. I blamed it on “pre teen hormones” and growing up. His color in his face is back, and he is testing us by being his spirited self. This is all welcome as we see that he is strong and healthy. If anything this experience has taught me and Dad, how important being vigilant to your child’s health is. Trust your parenting gut. I wish we had known sooner, but are glad now that Michael is learning how to manage this disease and live healthier. I am grateful to have everyone home and healthy. As a family, we are looking at the positive of this experience and will be eating healthier too overall.
Exceptional Parents, what challenges and possible other diagnoses are you facing with your child? Who else has been added to your child’s “team” and are you wondering how you will manage it? It’s hard. There will be days you rail against the fates, and days that you are stronger. Remember, lean on close family and friends who offer support. Seek out parent support groups online and in person. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and take care of yourself. You are an Exceptional Parent, and only by taking care of you, can you help your Exceptional Child thrive and stay strong in the face of new challenges. Until next time.
I am a writer, speaker and parent coach whose son with autism has shown me a whole new way to see the world and embrace the joy of the moment! I believe in empowering parents to trust their own instincts when it comes to their children, and in helping them parent with love, respect and confidence towards their child.
For more information on my coaching services, see my website: www.creatingexceptionalparentingg.com, and for a free 30 minute exploration/consultation session contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also to receive a copy of my FREE E-BOOK “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY” click on www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com/EBOOKS.