A family of 5, Super Mom, USMC Dad, & three boys ages 5, 7, & 9. This is glimpse into the daily life of raising 3 American boys while living in Bangkok, Thailand.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

The Day our Somewhat Simple Life got Complicated.

       A few months ago, I remember thinking to myself how lucky my husband and I have been to have such happy and healthy kids.  At 4, 6, and 8, we had managed to escape any major illnesses, no broken bones, no physical or mental issues with our kids.   Other than a few ear infections, common cold, strep throat, and general viruses that all kids get, our kids were healthy.    On Thursday, May 30, 2013 that all changed. My six year old son, Brosnan, was diagnosed as a Type 1 diabetic.

        Let's rewind a few months so that you can understand where I think this all started.  Brosnan has always been a 'sensitive' child.  He has a very sweet demeanor, his feelings get hurt easily, he is always moving a bit slower then our other two, but he is as loving as loving can be.   He is my brown eyed baby boy.  It hurts my heart writing this... knowing where it ends up. Anyways, I guess you can say he has always been a bit less energetic then my other two kids. He knows that his puppy dog eyes will get him what he wants and he uses them on a regular basis.   Brosnan, Little Justice, and I, went on a trip to Washington state to visit with my family at the beginning of March.  We drove from Yuma, Arizona to San Diego, California where  we got on the plane.  Nothing out of the ordinary, we had a great trip visiting family for the final time before our departure to Thailand.   On the drive back from San Diego to Yuma we stopped probably 3 times for bathroom breaks for Brosnan, during a 3 hour car ride  Didn't think any thing of it.  Attributed it to his drinking lots of water which is always encouraged in our household. Maybe this unrelated to his diabetes, maybe it was the beginning. 

Brosnan and his Grandpa at SeaWorld 5/4/2013
 Fast forward another month to the beginning of May.  We met my father and his girlfriend, Cindi, in San Diego for a long weekend.  We spent a day at SeaWorld, and two days in LegoLand.  We all had a great time, but it seemed like we were stopping for Brosnan to go to the bathroom constantly.  Again, I just figured it was him drinking water and us just noticing his frequent urination more since we were forced to take him to the restroom (vs. him just going whenever at home).  That was May 3-6th. 

A week later May 15th, I volunteered to chaperon his kindergarten class as they walked to the fire station and then to Round-Table Pizza for lunch.  Brosnan was crying and whining the entire time.  All he seemed to focus on was food.  He refused to take pictures with the class when they were in front of the fire truck and he refused to basically do anything that the rest of the kids were enjoying.  I just figured this was Brosnan being sensitive like usual.  One of the fire fighters ended up taking him back inside the station to go get some tissues and get him calmed down.  I was kind of ignoring the poor kid. I was frustrated with his behavior. WHY couldn't he just enjoy the things that the rest of the kids were doing?  I know he likes pizza and was excited to have some but he was so hyper-focused on when he was going to get food it was driving me crazy, and not to mention a bit embarrassing.  When he realized that we had to walk from the fire station to the pizza place it got even worse.  You would seriously think that I never feed the child, he was acting as though he was starving.  We finally arrive at the pizza place, he scarfs down his two pieces of cheese pizza and is complaining he is still hungry.   I kept telling him that I was not going to buy any more because I knew he would not eat it all.  His eyes are bigger than his stomach most of the time.  After a few more minutes of his whining, and his cute brown puppy dog eyes, I bought him a personal cheese pizza.  He scarfed it up like no tomorrow.  I began to feel bad, my goodness the kid really was hungry!   Then the walk back to school, he was the last kid, as usual, walking slowwwww, nothing new there though....  
Brosnan crying over being hungry while on field trip 5/15/2013

       It is hard to pinpoint any 'symptoms' of the following week.  I do recall him drinking more, although it is important to point out that we lived in Yuma, Arizona in the middle of the desert and by May it is at least in the 90's consistently, if not in the 100's.  My kids drink water all the time.  They have access to water 24/7.  They go to sleep with a cup of water.  Brosnan was drinking his and we kept telling him we weren't going to give him any more because we didn't want him to pee the bed.  I remember him getting upset if we told him no, then he would just try and sneak out of his bed to fill his cup on his own.   Brosnan, being our 'slow' child would normally go without water rather than have to get up and do it himself.   So with drinking more water came more bathroom visits.   Over the next couple of weeks we were noticing that he was going to the bathroom at least once or twice before my husband and I went to sleep, usually around 11pm.  Of course he is going to the bathroom, he's drinking lots of water.  I also remember him being more 'excited' about eating.  He would get snacks on his own more frequently and would eat a lot more at breakfast time.

       Sometime between the 15th and 24th (ish) of May his urination became more frequent and more concerning.   I knew that frequent urination was a symptom of diabetes, I honestly can not say how I knew that, but I almost think it was from a Lifetime Movie or something!  So I started doing research on the internet.   I was searching and searching for SOMETHING that it could be other than diabetes, but all signs pointed to only one thing.  I remember mentioning to Justice that it is a symptom of diabetes and that could be a possibility, he made a joke about it.  I told him probably not a good idea to joke about it, in case it is actually true.  I am pretty sure he told me to call the Dr. and get him checked out if I thought it was a possibility.  That had to be at least a week before he was diagnosed.  I did not call at that time to make an appointment because I kept telling myself I was wrong and I was over-reacting.  He is peeing more because it is hot outside and he is drinking more water. Period.  There is no way my son could have diabetes.

      I think the final sign that told me I had to do something was one day when he took his shirt off.  It seemed like overnight he had gone from skinny, to skin and bones.  I continued my research trying to find something that would tell me my intuition was wrong.   I came across an article that said you can buy 'Ketone' test strips over the counter at local pharmacies. Ketones are produced when your body has to much sugar in its system and it tries to flush it out in the urine.   While Justice was at cubscouts I went to CVS and bought some.  I figured this was a good way to prove myself wrong.  

    This is where I try not to feel guilt in retrospect.  That night, on Tuesday, 3 days before I took him to the doctors, I tested his urine and it indicated 'large' amounts of ketones.  I read the package and it said, "if you are diabetic and results are 'moderate' call your medical team for guidance, if results are large, seek medical help immediately."   I didn't do anything.... It told me to seek medical help immediately, and I did nothing.   He wasn't diabetic, he had been okay the last few days, he just pee's a lot.  I will call the doctors in the morning.  I put him to sleep and I remember waking up the next morning, saying to myself that I hope he is awake...  I sent Brosnan to school and called the Doctors as soon as they opened. I spoke with the nurse and told him his symptoms and what my concerns were.   I did not tell her that I tested him for ketones.  I don't even remember if I told Justice.   They had no appointments for that day so they made an appointment for first thing the next morning.
     That day was a hard day for me.  I knew he had diabetes, I knew he had it for at least a week but I knew that once I took him to the doctors that it would be official and my baby boy's life would be forever changed. I prayed and I am not a 'religious' person per say, but I asked God to please not let me be right.  Please don't allow my precious, kind loving, and gentle 6 year old boy to have an incurable disease that will alter his life.   After I made the appointment I sent a text message to my husband asking if he could go to the appointment with me, I knew that if my fears were confirmed we would be going straight to the hospital.  I knew I couldn't go to that appointment alone. I remember calling my mom and crying on the phone because I was scared of the truth and being right.

      I tucked him into bed on May 29th, keeping my fingers crossed that he would wake up the next morning.  Telling myself that he is still acting okay, he can make it one more day.  He did thankfully.  After dropping off Justice and Arcadian at school we went to the appointment.  When we met with the provider, Maureen, the nurse practitioner, I told her his symptoms and my thoughts.   She got the nurse and a blood glucose monitor, poked his finger, got the blood onto the test strip, waited a few seconds and nothing... I remember the look on the nurse that was holding the monitor as she looked at Maureen.  It was the complete opposite of everything is okay.  They scrambled around for a few minutes.  As Maureen said that she wanted him to pee in a cup, I asked what the monitor said, and she said it was to high for the monitor to read.   We took B to pee in the cup and headed back to the room.   I remember my heart pounding, knowing that the answer I did not want was just minutes away.   Justice sat quietly.  At this point I do not think that he really understood what it would mean for Brosnan to have diabetes.  Many minutes later Maureen came back in and said that I was right.

    I don't remember much specifically after that.  I remember crying and I remember being given the choice to take him to the hospital in Yuma or we could have drove 3 hours to the Phoenix children's hospital.  We choose Yuma since it would be easier to take care of our other two kids.    I semi-composed myself so that we could leave, got in the car and the waterworks started again.   By this point Brosnan was crying to because he didn't want to have to stay at the hospital and he had no idea what was wrong.

This is after we got to hospital.
Practicing his shots on 'Rufus' the diabetic teddy bear.

And that was that. Thursday, May 30th, 2013.  The day our lives were changed.  There is so much more to tell, about the hospital stay, first days home, dealing with an overseas move, adjustments, etc.  but I can't emotionally write about it any more tonight.   I will say though that there are many worse diseases that he could have.  Yes, there is no cure... but there is hope for a cure.  It is controllable. He can go on to do almost anything, just with a few adjustments and preparations.   My life has become much more complicated, but I manage day-by-day.

At his Kindergarten graduation his teacher gave me a folder with his school stuff in it.  There were two photos of him, one from the beginning of the year, I'm thinking maybe November, and the other photo was from April or May when he received student of the month.   It makes me sick to my stomach to see him.  How could we not have noticed???  How was that possible?

Thankfully, that is in the past. He is happier and healthier now then he has been in months and he is doing all the things that other 6 year-olds do.  Including losing teeth!  This is just a curve in the road, a left turn we didn't intend to take, but we took it, and we managed to find our way back.  Brosnan is an amazing child.  His strength, patience, and courage through all of this continues to amaze me.

    For anyone curious, a full list of symptoms of diabetes can be found at this link, http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/diabetes/DS01121/DSECTION=symptoms

I thank all of you who have read this and promise I'll get back to our life in Thailand posts soon!   Although I will continue to elaborate on the Brosnan story as well.   


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