This I Believe

Nancy - Cincinnati, Ohio
Entered on February 7, 2007
Age Group: 30 - 50
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I believe that my son will wake up tomorrow morning.

There it is. All my parental hopes and fears. I hope that my two sons will grow up to be good men who live out of their wonderful giftedness and quirkiness. I also hope they will grow up healthy. That’s the center of my fear.

“What do you think it is?” my husband asked me on the playground that winter afternoon six years ago.

Something was wrong with our younger son. It was two weeks after his sixth birthday, and he was behaving like a three year old. There were temper tantrums, thumb sucking, bed wetting, blanket holding again when all that had passed. I’d queried his kindergarten teacher, probing for clues. But the clues were there in the constant drinking and bathroom visits, the telltale smell of fruit.

“I think he has diabetes,” I said. Simple as that. A phone call to the pediatrician. A trip to Children’s Hospital. And 45 minutes later, my husband called to say Graham’s blood sugar was 616, six times normal. He had diabetes. Simple, and scary, as that.

That day was surreal. Mark had just returned from Boston. While on the phone receiving the news, I stood in the kitchen with three lobsters backing their way around the floor, awaiting their destiny in a pot of boiling water. Our lives were about to boil too.

I couldn’t eat lobster that evening at dinner alone with our older son Luke, then age 7. I felt sick, but had to focus as I explained to my serious son that his cheery brother had a condition that would never go away. I didn’t sleep well that night, and have seldom slept well since. Diabetes never stops.

Parents of kids with diabetes rarely tell anyone what life among the endless test strips, needles and insulin is really like and how we really feel. We don’t want to scare our kids. We don’t want to upset adults with diabetes because this condition is not our own, so who are we to complain? We don’t want to tell other people too much because they’ll either feel sorry for us or maybe they won’t or maybe they’ll call us their heroes for all we do to keep our kids well. When the fact is, our kids with diabetes are our heroes. Their siblings are heroes too.

We just passed Diagnosis Day again. We’ve now spent more of Graham’s life with diabetes than without. His care has gone from archaic mixing of multiple insulins and carb exchange counting to a high-tech pump that matches insulin to food. We’ve gone from the tantrums to a kid who can test, manage his pump, carbs, get his homework done and still flashes that brilliant smile. It is pure grace. It’s also still scary being up at 3 a.m. testing blood sugar, worrying about possible coma. Diabetes never stops.

But I do believe my son will wake up tomorrow.