I’d like to introduce you to Amy of Embrace Diabetes.
Tell me something about your child.
He is a high energy, tenderhearted, 5 year old boy who passionately loves his brothers, the Indianapolis Colts, movies, swimming and riding bikes. He has taken up a new interest in basketball and seems to have a bit of natural ability in it. He is very interested in cooking and baking and loves to help…particularly proud that he can make meatloaf (with a bit of assistance). He is loved by all who meet him because of his infectious smile and single left dimple.
How old was your child when diagnosed?
Ryan was diagnosed at five years old exactly a week before Christmas in 2009.
How was your child diagnosed?
Type 1 Diabetes was a complete surprise…does not run in the family on either side. In hindsight, he displayed a lot of the symptoms, but I could always logically explain them away. I had made a big push about all the boys drinking water…water, water, water in the late summer. Ryan became my best water drinker; then naturally he had to go to the bathroom more. His appetite was increasing…growth spurt! He was getting up at night to use the bathroom and was “sleep walking” (so we thought), so naturally he was tired and sometimes lethargic during the day because he wasn’t sleeping well. I never put all these symptoms together because I never really considered them symptoms.
When we began getting really concerned was his personality was changing drastically. Sudden outbursts of anger followed by a withdrawing completely. He never wanted to be out of mine or Jason’s presence. We began digging into emotional disorders and that’s actually what prompted me to go to the pediatrician; I wanted to cancel out anything physical before we went down the emotional illness road. It didn’t take too long for the pediatrician to diagnose him and send us ASAP to the hospital.
How has your child’s life changed since diagnosis?
Well, his life has changed for the better when you consider how he was three to four months prior to diagnosis because he feels so much better. His personality is back. But his life is quite different than before. Shots, pokes, checks, carb counting, etc. Overwhelming to me, but not so much to him.
He sees the nurse at school daily, sometimes multiple times a day. He wears a medical bracelet now. He is crazy conscious of the time; he makes it a point to eat meals and snacks at the correct time in a very routine manner. But he has shown bravery and courage that is amazing. Very seldom complains about any of it. He possesses self-control like we could have never taught him. How many five year olds do you know will bring a cupcake home from school in his back pack and say he couldn’t have it because he’d already had his afternoon snack? He is still the same child, just with more responsibility and awareness of his body.
How has your family’s life changed since diagnosis?
Life has changed for sure. Our family has changed. Yes, there are the “worse” aspects with shots and pokes and diet and carbs. It’s often wearisome and overwhelming. But it has really strengthened our family in so many ways. We have seen a bonding between the brothers and I didn’t think that bond could ever run deeper than it already was. My 10 year old wanted to learn all the shots and routines; we were hesitant at first, but Ryan was all for it. So we taught Ethan and he can do virtually all we can do. Aaron, our 4 year old, won’t eat hardly anything without knowing the carbs first, even if Ryan isn’t with us. We have have learned to rejoice in the small victories of of life and dwell on simple pleasures. Sure we have bad moments and bad days, and there is NOTHING I wouldn’t give for a cure. But we have made a choice to do our best to see the best in life and embrace the disease and include it in our lives, not let it control our lives.
How has connecting online helped you cope with diabetes? What online resources do you use?
It has been everything! There is such a wonderful diabetes community out there. And so many are so willing to embrace another into their support circle. I’m new to searching online and putting myself out there, only about a month or so into seeking, but I have already connected with about half a dozen who really encourage me and ones I feel completely confident I could go to with questions, concerns or just to vent. Nothing is more encouraging than a momma who KNOWS because she is there or has been there.
With that said, I have tried to steer clear of the negative ones that only write about doom and gloom. There is enough “hard” with the daily diabetes life that I long for positive perspective and useful tips and simple encouragement. That is why I started my blog to just document the dailies and record small victories; maybe one day I can encourage another mom in a way that I have been encouraged.
How do you manage diabetes?
We are just shy of four months into our life with diabetes. We are still “honeymooning”, so our only choice for now is injections. We do use the Humalog and Lantus pens (so much easier than syringes). Ryan has four shots a day (unless we have to use the sliding scale at night). We check sugars 4-6 times a day. He eats 6-7 times a day with meals and snacks. Carb counting isn’t very fun and especially right now since it varies from meal to meal. Lunch is actually his biggest meal of the day. Snacks are all 15 carbs though, so our big snack bin in the pantry with all the prepackaged 15 carb snacks or counted out 15 carb snack baggies makes life a lot easier. Right now, he’s relatively easy to manage and we count our blessings for that every day.
What would you tell parents of a newly diagnosed child?
I would tell them they can do it. I didn’t think there was any way I could do it, Ryan could do it or our family survive it. But I was wrong.
Take one day at a time. Celebrate small victories or new ideas. Life will be normal, just a “new normal.” And I meet people all the time who are not letting the disease stop them, so why should it stop anyone? And I would let them know that I’m just an e-mail, Facebook update or Tweet away if they ever need to share.
What do you know now that you wish you had known at diagnosis?
About the online community and how positive it can be.
And not to panic at inexplicable highs and lows (as long as they don’t stay there and form patterns).
A d-mom named Rachel told me that with diabetes, 2+2 doesn’t always equal 4 anymore…and she’s right. And I found so much comfort in that!
Meet other D-Moms and D-Dads each Monday.