Diagnosis, Stupidity, and Bravery

Around Thanksgiving we noticed our 12 year old son acting lethargic. Unfortunately, this wasn’t all that different from years past. Our usual pattern is…school starts, viruses get passed around, kids get sick, parents get sick, stuff happens. This was different as we would come to find out. At Thanksgiving our son popped a fever for a couple of days, ate some turkey, and then never got better. He came home from school, took a nap, did his homework, and went to bed. This was our off season after playing a summer of baseball and a fall of soccer and fall baseball. These were always the short few weeks we looked forward to, when a little relaxation occurred prior to the next season starting, so we didn’t think too much of it.

As is usual, I was a pig-headed dad and told my wife he is just acting and being a general poop-head around the house. What my son didn’t tell me, or my wife, was that he was drinking more water than usual and peeing multiple times a night. No, he never thought that would be important information to tell us. And we didn’t ask…

This went on for the rest of November and almost all of December. Finally, the weekend before Christmas, my wife told me, “I don’t care what you say, something is wrong, I am taking him to the doctor.” He just couldn’t quite shake the illness he had. It wasn’t as if he had a fever, he just kept being tired, taking a nap after school, and doing the bare minimum to get by. Looking back on it, the night before the diagnosis, he asked me if he could bring a bottle of water to bed. “Sure” I said thinking staying hydrated is a good thing.

My wife took him to the doctor and asked for a mononucleosis test, thinking he must have something like mono to be so run down. Of course the mono test came back negative. And so, we will be forever grateful to the nurse practitioner who said, “Something is clearly wrong, let’s start over,” and began the interview from the beginning.

When she finally asked the key question, which was “How much water are you drinking at night?” You can only imagine my wife’s surprise when my son answered that he was drinking 3-4 liters per night and going to the bathroom 5-6 times and huffing as much water as he could out of the bathroom faucet. That caused the NP to grab a blood glucose test, do a finger stick, and find that his bg was over 500. Straight to the children’s hospital we went. One night in the ICU, two on a regular floor, 15 hours with a diabetes educator, and home we went. As scared as the day we took him home from the hospital 12 years before.

Through all of this, the one memory that still brings tears to my eyes, is the first day following the ICU, the nurse came in and asked “Who is going to give you your shot this morning?” My son looked at me and asked “Is this forever?” When I told him yeah, it probably was, he took a deep breath, asked for the shot and said “I might as well get used to this.” Our brave young man, gave himself that shot, took control of his care, and hasn’t let diabetes slow him down at all.


I find it quite hard to read the stories of these kids, our kids, being diagnosed.


This was great to read. A young man and a big man at the same time.
:thumbsup: :100:


I find it interesting that you and I did not show up at our smartest in the process. I wonder if we’ll find out that this may be a dad’s characteristic? I know that @rgcainmd was faced with the same phenomenon in her family. I wonder, @Bradford, @ClaudnDaye, @TiaG, have you noticed some male inadequacy in the early diabetes process? Serious question, btw :slight_smile:

My wife and I noticed together, that our son was drinking a lot of water (what seemed like a gallon a day), his diapers would be filled, drenching wet and leaking, within an hour of changing him, and seemed to always be tired. We had already guessed he had diabetes prior to the Pediatrician diagnosing him. We were upset that the Pediatrician didn’t figure it out sooner. I agree with previous comments that “BG checks” should be standard practice for checkups…they’re easy, fast and a great way to figure out whether someone has some sugar related disease…before DKA and before serious side-effects can set in.


Well, I did get upset with my husband before the doctor’s appointment, because he was not accessible by phone in Switzerland and I felt he needed to be on call in case things went sideways. But I think his inability to notice was a result of a) his not being there and seeing him wakeup overnight super thirsty and b) his dad did not have type 2, so he wasn’t as familiar with the symptoms. He had noticed him drinking more in the week or two beforehand but didn’t think of it as an urgent symptom.

But I also think it comes from having an ER doc as a dad. His dad’s answer to most problems is “eh, it’s nothing” and so he’s sort of imbibed that philosophy, minus the medical training to help distinguish the serious from the ordinary symptoms.

In general though he is pretty attentive to our kids’ health problems and is about as quick as I am to say we need to bring them in for a checkup.


Reading your son’s story brought back memories of me at 5 years old. When I started going to the bathroom several times during the night, I tried to be as quiet as I could. I would pee, then drink more water and sneak back to bed. The fear of my parents hearing me was that I assumed they would think I was playing around and avoiding bedtime. I was pretty good at hiding it from them most of the time.

My mom took me to the Dr because she suspected a UTI. She had also noticed I was losing weight, yet hungry all the time and very tired. The Dr smelled my breath, and sent me directly to the hospital. I was there 10 days, but never in ICU. I was very dehydrated, and remember having IV for fluids for many days. My parents had never heard of diabetes, and we had a visiting nurse come to our house to help my mom each morning for about a week. I started doing my own injections when I was 7.

After that, simple instructions. One injection each morning (lente) same amount each day until checkup with doctor. Checked my weight, checked the chart, and told my mom the dose. Each morning had to pee twice. “Void” the first time, then wait, pee again and get out the chemistry set (test tubes) and watch it turn orange.


We are kind of from the same generation of diagnosis. I was also 5, and was a few years after you. I also had the chemistry set.


Wow, reading this puts into perspective how far and fast we have come in the treatment of diabetes. While the learning curve would have been a bit easier, I am also struck at how many tools we have today that helps us to manage diabetes and achieve our vision of “unlimited”.


One of what must have been so many multi-step inconveniences along your way. So glad to have your perspective on this board! It really does help me return to gratitude for the time and place I was diagnosed. And it especially helps when I consider (worry) about a potential diagnosis of our children.