It’s the time of year when people get sick — flu, colds, viruses. About two weeks ago, my son placed his head in his hands and cried. I was about to drop him off at school. He was so exhausted he couldn’t go. I drove home and tucked him in. I made an appointment with the doctor — something I only do if I think things are serious. Two visits later, we were all working under the assumption he had mono. After all, he had the signs — lethargy, weight loss, and sporadic vomiting. At first, I thought we’d just treat the symptoms, as the doctor said. But my husband and I became worried as he grew thinner and thinner. I called my mom. She drove up to help. I called the doctor and ordered the spot test for mono. Monday of this week, it came back. The results: negative.
I felt faint when the nurse said “negative.” A negative mono test meant something not good — at some level I knew this. I left the office, skipping lunch, and returned home. My son’s breathing was labored. He could barely move off the couch. My mom had been suggesting the ER, and now I knew we had to go. We loaded up. His dad met us there, and eventually our daughter also arrived. Luke was so dehydrated it took six sticks before an IV made its way into his neck. Several hours later we found ourselves in Egelston. This was after the shocking news from the Union Co ER nurses and on-call doctor that our boy likely had type 1 diabetes. In fact, Luke was in what you call DKA — a serious diabetic condition in which the pH of your blood becomes too acidic. Many not-good-at-all things can happen in this state, and that night my husband and I watched as the team of nurses and doctors the pediatric ICU at Egelston kept our boy safe.
The doctors, nurses, and educators at Egleston are wonderful. One thing they kept assuring us of was this: there’s no way we could have prevented Luke’s diabetes. And the signs were so slow and subtle; I missed them all. I didn’t know a child could drink as much as he was and continue to release it and be dehydrated. I didn’t think about the frequent headaches being related to diabetes, or the extra dry skin, or the vomiting. The extreme sudden weight loss was the most alarming. That and the labored breathing were two of the main reasons we went to the ER. How thankful I am. Diabetes is not in our family; nor did I know anything about it. Well, I’m a walking resource now, even though I have to double-check every question and answer I have in my diabetes bible from Egleston.
We are all at home now. Luke is almost back to being totally normal. Within the range of Monday to Thursday he went from bedridden and bones to moving around and eating like a normal child. My spirits fluctuate — from joy to tears. What made me feel okay were the constant messages I received from many of you — emails, texts, Facebook messages. And then all the cards from people already in the mailbox! To know that my boy was in the thoughts and prayers of so very many people surely made me cope much better, and I have no doubt lifted him from danger. Thank you. Life has a new edge now — the depth of fragility has deepened, and the need to be present has grown exponentially — not just physically present, but present in the moment we all have right now — to honor it and be in it. I know that there’s much to learn and much to deal with in the future, but I’m relieved to know of the caring people around who will help us through it. Special thanks goes to the Union Co ER nurses, on-call doctor, ambulance driver and EMT; Egelston staff (nurses and doctors); Union Co Elementary admin and teachers; and all of you who visited or sent your positive words and prayers. Hugs and blessings to you all.