Jumping in with both feet

Jumping in with both feet

Well, we’ve made it to blog #2 – and it’s like Pandora’s Box has been opened. When we first talked about writing this we weren’t sure we had much to say but we can confidently tell you that we now have a long list of things to write about and it’s a matter of trying to hold us back! We’re jumping in with both feet, which is a bit like what life is like after you are told your child has Type 1 Diabetes. One day it’s not there and the next  – BAM – it’s your whole life.  You’re in with both feet, and sinking deep.

“Hamish has Type 1 Diabetes”

We can so vividly recall the moment that we were told Hamish had Type 1 Diabetes. It was Monday October 31, 2011. Yes Halloween. The irony of Trick or Treat is definitely not lost on us. Hamish had been a bit off colour. We had noticed the Thursday before he had needed to wee a lot. A trip to the Doctor on the Friday resulted in the diagnosis of a suspected urinary tract infection and a referral to have a scan.

By the Sunday night the persistent requests for water combined with the nonstop weeing was raising red flags. Still, Hamish wasn’t what you would call ill, he just wasn’t himself, except his breath smelt funny. So come Monday and we were back at the Doctors. The rest goes something along the lines of this…

Doctor: “You need to get Hamish to Sydney Children’s Hospital, something isn’t right with his blood glucose levels, I’ll let them know you are coming”. Us, calmly on the 1 hour drive to the hospital “Everything will be fine, look at him, he’s not sick”. Hamish laughing in the back seat, holding hands with our 1 yr old daughter Lyla “Can we go through the tunnel with the lights? This is fun!”.

Walk into Emergency, give our name at the desk and they say “Come straight through”. Mmmm this isn’t a good sign. The three people in front of us were told to take a seat and wait to be called.  We meet a young doctor who takes a quick sample of Hamish’s blood, turns to us a says “I’m really sorry but Hamish has Type 1 Diabetes. He won’t be going home for some time.” Silence, then tears. And tears which for one half of us (read: Jen) didn’t stop for at least a week. Then the denial – don’t you need to do more tests? Surely you can’t tell from just that one little blood test? Don’t you need to go away and ponder some more? Hamish had a lot to eat today maybe that’s skewing the results? I’m afraid not, he says. A blood glucose reading over 11 means instant diagnosis of Type 1 Diabetes. You will be in hospital at least a week. Wait here and someone will come and talk to you shortly and explain what’s next.

Wow. In with both feet
No gradual adjustment. No warning. One minute you know nothing about life with Diabetes, next minute it is your life. We won’t bother you with the details of the following week – if you have Diabetes or a child with Diabetes you’ve been there, done that. Meeting with Doctors, Educators, Counsellors, trying to get your head around how you can mimic this fickle and quite frankly complex body organ called the Pancreas. It feels all consuming, frustrating and near on bloody impossible! Realising that you are now responsible for physically keeping your first born’s body going, functioning, working as it should, it’s almost too much to carry. You cry for the things they must face and the challenges that they will go through physically and mentally for the rest of their lives. And you cry because you just don’t know how you are going to get through.  But, almost 5 years on, we are here, we are functioning, and we are a regular family (well, that could be debatable).

It’s just an “is”
At four years old, it was probably – ironically – an easier adjustment for Hamish. Once we got out of hospital and back into the routine of home life he soon forgot about life without Type 1 Diabetes. Now, at 9 years old he would struggle recall a time before BGL tests and night time snacks, hypos and ketones. Sad in one way, great in another. To Hamish, Diabetes is just an “is”.  It’s part of him, no different to the fact that breathing air is an “is”, walking upright is an “is” or talking incessantly is an “is”.  Same can be said for his sister Lyla (now 5 yrs old) who has seen Hamish go through this her whole life and the latest addition to our family  Fletcher who is too young at 2 years old to understand what happens although often gives Hamish pretend needles.

For us, it’s definitely less of an ‘is’ – we worry, fret, cry (still although not as often of course) and curse what this does to our little boy. We lament lost sleep and the fact nothing is ‘simple’. But what can you do? You choose to get on with it, make it less of a big deal, try to make everything feel as natural and as ‘un-different’ (we’re trying to avoid using the word normal!! A topic for another blog…) as possible. It’s just an “is” we tell ourselves. And this “is” has forced to us jump in with both feet.

So if your life is turned upside down in the space of a second and you have no choice but to jump remember you aren’t alone  – yell on the way down and we can tell you that there will be people there to help (again, a topic for another blog). If you’re watching someone close to you jump, you do have a choice, so grab their hands and leap with them. Both feet.

Metaphorical feel aside
We do feel it is our responsibility to do a diabetes public service shout out and remind all the diabetics out there about not just their metaphorical feet but their real feet! You know the drill, watch those tootsies, look after them. We learnt the hard way with a cut that turned very nasty. Now Hamish has been exposed to the beauty of a pedicure and great foot massage (how else do you get through all that boy-dirt and see what’s going on?) he is spoilt for life. Our apologies to his future partner!

Yours with both feet

Jen and Brad, parents to a Hamish and his pedicured feet