Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Type 1 Diabetes Awareness: Leading up to Diagnosis

Hey friends! It's been a hot minute since I have written a blog post. Months to be exact. Going through a difficult pregnancy and adjusting to life as a family of five really took a toll on me, and things like blogging had to take a back seat in my life. Now that I have established a good balance between work, kids, health and the like, I think now is the perfect time to start back up. I talked about it a lot on social media, but for those of you who are playing catch up, the month of November is Diabetes Awareness Month. If you know me personally, or follow my posts then you are aware that this month is especially important for me because my oldest son, Sawyer, has T1D. For the first couple weeks of November, I intend on sharing as much of our life as a Type 1 Family as possible. Hoping to raise awareness for this autoimmune disease, as it is still very misunderstood (no thanks to mainstream media in promoting the disease as simply one that results from eating too much sugar and lack of exercise *cue major eye roll*). With all of that being said, my first post will be about the days and weeks leading up to Sawyer's diagnosis, including the red flags that I am thankful I did not ignore or brush off as "just a phase".

A few weeks prior to Sawyer's diagnosis, he was hit with a very bad virus. Caused him to have to have a very strong steroid. He was feeling better within a few days of seeking medical attention and we thought we had moved past the sickness. Within days of being over the virus, he started wetting the bed. At age 4 and having been potty trained for over a year, this was my first red flag. The bedwetting was not just a little trickle. It was soaking his bed every single night. We cut off his drinking (despite his excess thirst) and made him go to the bathroom multiple times before calling it a night. Nothing worked. Another thing that struck me as odd was how much food Sawyer was consuming in a day. I tracked his food intake one day and he ate almost 3,000 calories. That was more than what I was consuming at 27-30 weeks pregnant. Despite Sawyer's insatiable appetite, he had lost weight. The day he was diagnosed he weighed 37 pounds. My other son, Colt is 2 and weighs 35 pounds just to put that into perspective for ya. The final thing that made me realize that something was wrong was Sawyer complaining of headaches. Sawyer doesn't complain. When he is feeling bad, you know he is feeling bad. When he says he is sick, he is sick. After Sawyer experienced these symptoms for almost 2 weeks, I ignored every single person who told me the bed wetting was "just a phase" or that he is "just going through a growth spurt" or whatever the excuse was that I was given so I wouldn't take him in. I knew something was wrong. *Side note: MOMS! If you ever think something is truly wrong with your child, you are almost always correct. There is nothing like a Mother's instincts when it comes to the health and well being of her child. Don't ever listen to anyone who says otherwise.*

The morning of Sawyer's diagnosis, he was staying with his Mimi while I went in to work. I remember this morning like it was yesterday. Kim texted me saying Sawyer was still complaining of a headache after a few days of doing so. I sat there in my office and put all of the pieces together. "It's Diabetes," is what I kept thinking in my head. I went to my boss and another co-worker and just kind of talked about it with them. I remember saying to them how I think he has Type 1 Diabetes, but I pray to God that it isn't. I texted Dr. Shumaker and said, "I need to bring Sawyer in for a urinalysis. He's showing signs of Type 1 Diabetes." She responded, "bring him in." I had Kim meet me at the doctor's office with Sawyer and for some reason I asked her to come in with me (I think that was God telling me to ask her.) I'm so glad I did. When we were sitting in the waiting room, I noticed a fruity smell to Sawyer's breath. I knew he had Diabetes. They brought him in, weighed him and when they said 37, I thought to myself "wow, he has lost 3 pounds in about a month." He weighed 40 even when he went to the doctor for his virus a few weeks back. They immediately did a urinalysis and his sugar was in the thousands. Dr. Shumaker came in to the room and said, "He's diabetic." You know that feeling when you're in school and you get called to the Principal's office and you automatically get that horrible feeling like your stomach just fell through your butt? That's the feeling I got. Then, they checked his blood sugar on a glucometer, and his blood sugar was so high it wouldn't even give a number. It just read, "HIGH". I knew right then and there that my job as a mother was about to get a heck of a lot harder, and Sawyer's life was going to be changed forever.

Within the next couple days, I learned how to check my son's blood sugar, administer insulin via a syringe. I had already known about nutrition, reading food labels, carb counting, etc. and I thank God for that. But Type 1 Diabetes is more than just good nutrition. It is a balancing act. And sometimes even when you think you have the perfect amount of insulin with the amount of carbs, you still find yourself frustrated when a low or a high happens. Diabetes is the most frustrating disease. It has a mind of its own some days. In the hospital we were given a crash course on the different types of insulins that Sawyer will be needing (Lantus and Novolog). We learned about sick days and how to take care of him and prevent blood ketones and him going into DKA. Going back to this day makes me emotional in so many ways. THANK YOU JESUS for his diagnosis! I do not know what I would have done with myself had I not listened to my gut and just let his diabetes take over and take my baby away from me. I wouldn't have been able to live with myself.

Today, Sawyer is seven years old (diagnosed at 4). He is coming up on his 3 year Diaversary, and we couldn't be more proud of him. He checks his own blood sugar most of the time. He takes his shots like it's nothing. Same goes with the insertion of his sensor for his CGM (continuous glucose monitor). This boy doesn't let Diabetes stop him from anything. He is an amazing student, athlete, friend, son, and brother. Anyone who knows him can attest to this. I never want Sawyer to feel like Diabetes has control over him and his life, but rather he have control over it.

If you or someone you know is experiencing the symptoms that I described in this post (bed wetting, increased thirst, increased appetite, unexplained weight loss, headaches, fruity breath), DO NOT WAIT. Take them to see the doctor right now. It is so important that you do because it could save their life. Listening to my gut literally saved Sawyer's life, and for that I am forever thankful.

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