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.