Remembering Back, Looking Forward-How Our Exceptional Kids Teach Us About Resilience

Two years ago. Two years ago today I was in the emergency room of our local children’s hospital listening to one of the doctors telling me that he was pretty sure Michael had Type 1 Diabetes. They were running blood tests while Michael was hooked up to IV’s which were hydrating him. I stared disbelievingly at the doctor and heard my voice saying out loud;

“That’s good you want to rule that out. I don’t think it’s that. It’s probably something with his appendix.”

Denial is strong when we are frightened and don’t know the symptoms of a illness or disease. Dad and I did not know that with diabetes kids lose weight, drink a lot more, are tired. Michael was all of the above that summer, and I blamed it on a very tough year with intense behaviors at home. I did not know the signs.  Of course not even five minutes later the tests came back positive for Type 1 Diabetes. Dad and I were in shock. How was this possible? No one in our families had it. Would our little boy be ok? How would we handle this and his other challenges? How would Michael handle all of this?

As always, Michael surprised us. I remember thinking this poor kid who hated needles and loved to eat would now have to have four needle injections a day and he would have to learn to carb count all the carbohydrates in all the foods he ate in a day. He not only mastered taking his blood sugar and now giving himself needles, but he has learned how to manage his food intake. I don’t know why I was surprised. He was a fighter from the womb, and once out of the womb he continued amazing me. Still, I thought this would be enough for me to handle, a neuro typical woman who hated the idea of needles too. Michael took to everything with an ease even I didn’t have right away. He was and is my hero.

Two years ago today as Dad and I watched our little boy hooked up to so many wires to rebuild his body which had been shutting down, we both prayed and thanked God we got him to the hospital on time. I read everything I could find on Type 1 Diabetes, the same thing I did with autism and ADHD. We saw so many doctors, nurses, and a social worker who informed us about diabetes. We got articles, training and little breaks where we were told to go get a coffee as Michael healed. I remember thinking, how will we get through this as a family? How will we help Michael move forward? My joy was the day he asked to eat. I knew he was getting better.

We were trained on how to do the injections, and then sent home. That first year was all about trial and error as we all learned to put diabetes around our life, not the other way around, as our endochrinologist told us. I remember Michael taking so naturally to testing his blood sugar. I remember Michael remembering to take his supplies everywhere we went. We took sugar and did injections in parks, malls, restaurants, and at people’s houses. He would look at us and say, “This is not hard. It’s ok.” I was and am constantly amazed by his good-natured calm approach to his diabetes. Yes, there were the times my heart broke, like when he said he wishes he could eat unlimited quantities of things like his friends who don’t have diabetes. He wishes he didn’t have to worry about sugars and carbs. But, he always ended the conversations with, “this is not so bad.”

I don’t know where he got that resilience. Sure, Dad and I have taught him not to give up and to keep trying, but I firmly believe he was a fighter from utero onward. He has always been easy going, friendly and willing to try again. Each day I learn more about strength, resilience and positivity from Michael than I do from anyone else. He is my star and even when he drives me crazy which he frequently does now as a tween, 😉  I love the life lessons he teaches me and makes me realize I still need to learn. A chronic condition is not the end of life. It is a new way to live life, and it is the way we view it that determines how successful we will be in managing our quality of life.

Exceptional Parents, when have your Exceptional Children showed you their resilience and reminded you to never stop believing in yourself? Most of them show us this every day in how they tackles obstacles, stress, and the world around them. When you catch yourself losing patience with your child, remember. They are here to teach you as much as you are here to teach them. Until next time.

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