"The Dragon" entered our lives on July 22, 1998. It was exactly 1 week and 1 day before Jared's eighth birthday.
We had a great party planned. All the "pirates" were coming over for pizza, cake, and ice cream. We planned a treasure hunt and after the pirates found their treasures, they could return to the open seas (with a dip in the pool).
But, amidst all these plans we suddenly discovered that our young Prince had diabetes.
What a surprise! Nobody in his family has IDDM. We thought he was thirsty all the time because it had been hot. The frequent urination had to be because of an infection. Wrong.
His fasting blood glucose was in range. After he ate it would go over 300. The doctor told us to go home and wait.
Wait for what?
Research proved that we were lucky. Most children are so ill at diagnosis that they are hospitalized for several days. A friend/nurse practitioner said it was Mom's attention to detail that avoided those complications and it would be that attention that would help keep Jared in good health.
Two days later the doctor called. After checking, she believed that it would be best to begin Jared on insulin.
So, we took a break from planning a birthday party and learned to give shots, check blood glucose, and the Exchange Program. Suddenly we were watching the clock, measuring food, and reading all we could about diabetes.
How can you ever express the feelings involved with giving shots to your child to someone who doesn't have a child with diabetes? Jared used to curl up on the corner of the couch as far away from us as possible and scream out the window, "Somebody help me!" We were supposed to protect him-not inflict this pain. Heartbreaking.
Sometime after the party we were finally settling in enough to begin learning about diabetes. The doctor's office gave us a book to read-"Understanding Insulin-Dependent Diabetes" starring the Pink Panther. Now we were learning about the possibility of hypoglycemia.
Meanwhile, Jared's blood glucose was still out of control. He went to two shots a day.
The doctor promised him he'd never be on more than two shots a day.
His blood glucose was still out of control.
The doctor sent us to a pediatric endocrinologist-over 300 miles away.
Lots of changes were made.
Now we were carb counting (whew! So much easier!). Protein and vegetables were "free foods" (no more hunger pangs after eating the alloted food on the Exchange Program). And the types of insulin changed.
Over the course of the next two years, Jared's A1C's continued to go up. He went up to 5 shots a day and still no good control.
Last August Jared went on the insulin pump.
No more schedules. No more food limits. More finger pricks. Getting a site every 3 days instead of 5 shots a day.
Now we discovered that protein does affect his blood glucose-but it's easier to treat.
His A1C's have come down-but still are not as low as the doctor hopes for.
But, he's had 3 episodes of seizures since being on the pump. Very scary.
It's been 3 years now of "paying attention to details."
Jared just wants to be like his friends. He doesn't like taking time out to test or treat lows. He often doesn't feel well because of highs and lows.
Mom and Dad are tired. Trying to balance insulin, food, and exercise. Night time blood glucose tests. Doctor appointments. Maybe all the effort would be alright if there was something positive to show for it. But it doesn't seem to matter how much time or effort you contribute, you are still battling The Dragon. There's still the fear of future complications and the daily battle with hypo- and hyperglycemia.
But, as much as we've learned about diabetes, nutrition, and biology the biggest lesson of all is that our Prince is the bravest person in The Enchanted Kingdom.