Justin has always been a skinny little guy. Not boney skinny… the kind of skinny some dream of… six pack and all. For him, looking “thin” was nothing unusual. A good growth spurt had him tugging at his shorts every minute to keep them up. Then he would put on a few pounds and everything was good. It had been that way all his life… so looking back, I can’t remember noticing the weight he lost. But if I look at photos from that summer… it’s there and it breaks my heart.
Fast-forward to starting 2nd grade. A few things had happened… the teacher they paired Justin with was not a good match AT ALL. We knew that pretty quickly. Then, his AGP teacher (that he LOVED and had been wonderful with him in the prior year) was moved to another school a couple weeks after school started, leaving their class with subs until they could find a permanent replacement. Justin was devastated… really devastated… cried about it. Suddenly, he was getting in trouble EVERYDAY. He started wetting the bed; even though he had been done with that for some time. I was going crazy trying to understand why he was SO out of control.
Skip ahead to October… I started getting reports from other places… “can you please send a water bottle to AGP; he is having a meltdown because we don’t have a water fountain”. At some point I remember being asked if “everything was okay at home”.
His home room teacher (still not a good match) tells me “he wasn’t allowed to have a water bottle because he was messing with it to much during instructional time”. She was not easy to work with. I told her why I was sending it… she didn’t see a water issue in her class and it was distracting him.
At home, he started to become a bit unbearable. He was irritable and sometimes just plain nasty. This was not my loving child.
Then, the week before, as I was picking him up from CCD the teacher stopped me… “can you please send him with a water bottle?” WEIRD, I thought as I told her this wasn’t the first request, but that it wasn’t happening everywhere. Honestly, I chalked it off to more acting out. Justin got in trouble for his actions that night.
I feel guilty about that now. I feel guilty about many things.
October 21st 2008. I can remember every detail about that day. Something happened in school again and I was fed up. I made an appointment with the pediatrician for that afternoon. I was in search of a referral to see a Psychologist because I had enough. I was tired of this teacher’s attitude. I was tired of Justin acting out, wetting the bed and getting in trouble EVERYDAY. I couldn’t take it anymore.
I explained to our pediatrician what had been happening. I asked for a referral. Dr. D agreed to give me one, but she wanted to test his urine first just to rule everything out. She pretended like it was probably nothing… but she knew. I sat there- still convinced that I knew what the problem was. Had I known what was coming… I may have run.
In comes Dr. D with Dr. C (???). I think my stomach sank a bit when they both walked in. It was then that I realized this was not going to be good. Then the words left her mouth... at that point there was no turning back, no chance to run. I was in complete shock!! It was like I was in the room, but I wasn't there and I wasn't hearing this; yet the words were ripping through me like broken glass. I remember staring straight at her… my eyes did not want to move. I knew if I looked at him, it would be the end for me. I didn't dare to blink because then the tears welling up in my eyes would fall. I'm not even sure if I continued to breath. I was so numb.
Dr. D had a nurse take both kids(Leighanna was there also) out of the room because she knew I was trying so hard not to loose it with them there. She gave me as much info and support as I could possible handle at that point. She spent more than my share of time with me that afternoon, and I greatly appreciated that. Both of my kids have seen these pediatricians since they were born and poor Justin has seen them(and many other doctors) more than Leighanna, Anthony and myself combined. It’s just not right.
I have been told we caught it early- we didn't get admitted to the hospital. Instead, we were given a choice: hospital tonight or an appointment with the Endocrinologist at 7am the next morning. The appointment had already been made for us. Obviously the choice was clear!
We arrived at the hospital where the Dr.’s office is located bright and early the next morning to begin a four hour cram session with the CDE on how to keep my seven year old son from dying. FOUR HOURS!! That’s all I was given to learn how to mix insulin, count carbs, what a serving size looked like, how to give my son injections, signs of hypo’s, signs of hyper’s, Glucagon… oh dear lord, the Glucagon. We learned how to test blood sugars, what a ketone was and how to test for them. What to do for ketones, high glucose and low glucose and even what to do if my seven year old suddenly has a seizure or becomes unconscious.
That is more information than most people could handle in four hours. To make matters worse… right in the middle of it all, I had to inject my crying, begging, pleading, SEVEN year old son with insulin for the first time. I was still in shock, my head was spinning, my heart breaking. I was beside myself and none of this made sense. It didn't matter if I didn't know what I was going to do; after that four hours...
I was on my own.
We left the hospital knowing we needed to feed Justin. He wanted to go to Red Lobster. At that point he had his insulin about an hour earlier and Red Lobster was about 45 minutes away. We didn't know any better... we headed wherever he wanted to go. We had no food with us, nothing to treat a low... we didn't know any better. We did make it there, but as we were walking Justin started complaining about being dizzy. I told him to hold on just a minute... I didn't know any better. When we sat down I asked the server for some crackers. I tested Justin and he was super low. I don't remember what that number was anymore, but it scared me... I think it was in the 30's. I remember hanging by head down. All I could do was cry.