Friday, September 28, 2012

Unexpected Connections

March 20, 2008 changed our lives forever.

My husband and I had been noticing some random (or so we thought) changes in our son over the previous 3-4 months. His appetite was not the same. He was looking thinner. He had started wetting the bed after being potty trained for 2 years. He was asking to drink water every night before bed. These changes, however, we felt could be explained by a number of other occurrences in our lives. His younger sister had just been born at the end of 2007. We put our house up for sale in February 2008 and were planning to move to St. Louis a few months later so my husband could attend seminary. And if he would just stop drinking water before going to bed, he would stop having accidents during the night. Logical.....all logical.

But the week before March 20th, things started spiraling downward. He had become increasingly thirsty throughout the day. He was having to go the to bathroom very often. He complained at school of headaches. We made an appointment to see the doctor later in the week but it soon became clear that we needed to see the doctor right away. The doctor did not seem surprised when we explained all of Caleb's symptoms. She did a simple blood test and when the result came back, there was no hesitation in her voice as she said, "Caleb has type 1 diabetes." There were no "ifs" or "maybes" or "we need to do more tests." Instead she told us we would be going directly to the Children's Hospital in Houston and would be spending several days there getting Caleb stable and learning about the disease.

I still remember leaving the doctor's office, going home, standing in the kitchen with my husband, crying. Crying because of the diagnosis our son was just given. Crying because of the unknown. Crying because the future we planned for our child had changed.

As a parent, you never plan that your child is going to develop a serious illness. You plan all the good things....birthdays, school activities, sports, graduation, college, marriage, grandchildren....but never those unexpected road bumps along the way.

While at the hospital, we learned what a diagnosis of type 1 diabetes meant for Caleb and for our family. We learned how he would be "connected" to his need for insulin for the rest of his life. We learned that we would soon become experts at checking his blood sugar many times a day, counting the carbohydrates in all his meals, and administering insulin shots. We also learned that despite the diagnosis, if managed well, Caleb can live a long, healthy and normal life.

Fast forward four and a half years. Caleb, now 8, is managing his diabetes very well. He's now connected to an insulin pump, which has helped the management of his disease tremendously. I can't say every thing's been easy, but we've made it. We've struggled through the sick day management, the daily counting of carbs, and the extra vigilance we need to keep when he's active.

Although we truly wish diabetes was not a connection in our life, we're hopeful that by the time Caleb goes to college, management of his disease will be even easier than it is today, and perhaps, they'll even have found a cure. But until then we know he has many exciting things in store for him.

Have you had any unexpected connections in your life? Perhaps the initial connection you experienced was negative but has turned out to be something positive in your life? Share your stories with us today!

Next week we will be introducing a new theme for the month of October. Make sure to add your photos to the flickr pool to be considered for our last "connection" InFocus selection for this month!


heyjudephotography said...

I'm so glad he's doing well. Our kids are so resilient! The things that seem to be the hardest are the best lessons for us, don't you think? I'm sure, that through all of these struggles in the past few years, learning about, and managing this disease, your family has become even closer. The years will bring many good changes to the management of diabetes, I'm sure. Good luck to you and your son. Nice post Stephanie. This month's theme has shown us connections in so many different ways!

Kim Stevens said...

Oh this connection resonates with me for sure. To make a long story short, my son got very sick at 5 months old on a trip home from Chicago (driving) and ended up in a hospital in Joplin MO for several days with RSV and pneumonia. They told us that it would most likely change/damage the cell structure in his lungs and that he would most likely develop asthma. He did and ever since then he has battled with it, and I lost count on the number of ER visits, one of those by ambulance and one with a hospital stay that was a life/death situation. But I'm happy to say that as he has gotten older we have not had any ER visits and it has been mostly controlled and he plays just about every sport. I'm so glad that your son is doing well, and can only hope that with all of our modern advances in medicine that a cure is on the horizon!! I have really enjoyed this theme of connections this month Stephanie - perfect choice! xo

Dotti said...

I can only imagine the avalanche of emotions that you and your husband had on that day and the confusion and angst young Caleb must have had because he certainly didn't understand what those words meant. He has learned, as you have, what it means but more importantly, you've all learned to "deal" with it, to connect with one another in the day-to-day maintenance required to keep this insidious disease under control. Yes, diabetes treatment has come a long, long way and the journey for better treatment continues ... as does your family's journey with this condition.

Thanks for sharing, Stephanie. Keep calm and carry on! :-D


Dotti said...

BTW, I have a crush on Caleb!


terriporter said...

Oh, wow, I'm sitting here with tears in my eyes because I can only imagine all you had to go through since Caleb's diagnosis. You are so right -- we have so many hopes and dreams for our children and when that fork in the road takes us in another direction, it can be very hard until we find our way. With my children now grown, I can think of any number of times that my plans went awry and how I coped with that but what first comes to mind is when our oldest son was diagnosed with growth hormone deficiency at the age of five. Not life-threatening, no, but there is a lot of height in our family and without treatment we were told he would be lucky to reach five feet. He had shots daily until the age of 16, so I know how hard it is to submit your child to the pain of an injection on a daily basis. We want so much for them, we never want them to hurt or struggle, but that's life and sometimes we aren't given a choice but have to accept what is.

You have my utmost admiration for how you and your family have taken on this challenge with strength and courage and in spite of it all, Caleb is a lucky little boy. This month's theme of "connections" has been wonderful, bringing out so many stories from each of us and our readers. Thanks for sharing this one with all of us.

Claudia@DipityRoad said...

Oh darlin, what a horrible disease this is. My middle sis developed Juvenal diabetes when she was 50 years old (I know, really strange huh?) and she never wanted to accept that it was going to run her life. She always "knew" there would be a cure... but sadly it was what killed her at such an early age (56) I will send out prayers and good thoughts as your family works together on this. I do believe there is a cure around the corner.


carol said...

As you know from my post about my daughter's graduation while ago, I took one of those unexpected paths too, and my heart goes out to you. Other things happened along the way with both of my children. As Terri said above, you just never want to see your children hurt, mentally, emotionally or physically. And when they are given a harder path to take than you had, you just wish you could do it for them. But the bottom line is that you can't. We dont have that choice, and I can tell by the strength with which you tell this story, that you are all forging on. And that's the best lesson for Caleb - just keep plugging. Thanks for sharing this and my prayers are with you all for continued health and progress.

Anonymous said...

Oh my! Such a challenging disease for such a young boy. Although I love photography, my real passion is nursing. I work in the school district and I find that the students with diabetes are very educated and responsible for managing their disease. The older adults that Ive met along the way were also diagnosed at an early age and still manage very well. Diabetes is challenging but DOES NOT mean less a quality of life. Kiss that sweet boy of yours every night and thank the lord it was not something worse. He will live a long healthy life as long as he stays diligent about his disease. Prayers to you and your family and remember, the lord has everything in control. Thanks for sharing your story. It has touched my life as Im sure it has for many others!

hootnonny said...

I am glad that Caleb and yall are living well w/this terrible disease. After the first three lines I knew where this story was going. My daughter, a physician, received the same diagnosis about four years ago at age 43. We were both devastated, but she got right back on her horse - she horseback rides, runs, Turbo Fires, snorkels, swims, and anything she wants to (and she too has an insulin pump), and except for a weekend in ICU earlier this year after becoming dehydrated from a stomach bug, she lives in harmony w/her disease. Just think of Mary Tyler Moore, who's in her seventies and has lived w/Type I her entire life. My prayers for you all!

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