Perspective: Lessons from My Son’s Type 1 Diabetes Diagnosis

Perspective: Lessons from My Son’s Type 1 Diabetes Diagnosis

The Type 1 Diabetes Diagnosis

At the end of August of 2009, almost exactly 8 years ago, my son was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. Life was unexpectedly put into perspective.

Diabetes is not something that runs in our family so to say it was a shock is an understatement. Immediately he was admitted into the hospital because his blood sugar had been high for who knows how long and needed to be corrected immediately before it caused serious damage to his little 20-month old body.

Like any mom in the same situation, I experienced the emotional roller coaster of feelings – upset, angry, wondering if I did something to cause this to happen because it was so unexpected.

Lack of Support for Diabetics

At that time, there were very few physicians here who understood Type 1 Diabetes so we could not find the education and support we needed back then. I am so happy to report that this has changed drastically since then, but at the time, it was a very lonely diagnosis.

Since my husband and I both worked in healthcare, we immediately started searching for care and treatment options. Texas Children’s Hospital was the end result.

My son and I stayed in Houston for almost a month. We had naively planned to stay for only 10 days.  The doctor was right to suggest this so I could become comfortable with diabetes management.

How a Type 1 Diabetes Diagnosis Can Offer Perspective

As angry and upset as I was at this disease throughout this experience, there are absolutely no words to describe what you go through when you get in the elevator with your child and you are surrounded by children and their parents who are facing much more challenging conditions.

On one particular day, before I entered the elevator to go to my son’s appointment, I saw two parents pushing a child in a wheelchair who had obviously lost their hair from chemotherapy.

Just as the elevator doors were closing, someone pushed the button and another patient entered. This time a boy on a stretcher entered with his mother and his personal nurse. He was connected to a very large medical device. 

That was the longest elevator ride in my life.  All I could think was, How did I ever get so lucky? How was my son blessed with a disease that was manageable? 

Diabetics Can Live A Full, Normal Life

I was numb for days because I was so upset that my child had Type 1 Diabetes. As difficult as this disease can be, the harsh reality of this was realizing that we had won the lottery.

This did not make me jump for joy by any means, but my heart ached for those parents and others. I was still coming to terms with my own situation, but I was in awe at how they were handling everything under such difficult circumstances. I continued to observe this throughout our visit as well as the randomness of the diseases.

I returned to Dubai with a lot to learn, but at least armed with the knowledge I needed to become my son’s pancreas and manage his diabetes for him until he is old enough to do so himself.

I have learned many things from this experience, and continue to learn something new every day. On some days I feel like a pseudo endocrinologist, nurse, dietician and more. It can make my head spin. But still, nothing is as profound as the 15 seconds I spent in that elevator that day.

It reminded me to not sweat the small stuff.  While diabetes is big, every day is still a gift.  Sometimes, in the grand scheme of things, it is not always as bad as we think.

Has a diabetes diagnosis given you some perspective on life? Feel free to share your experience in the comments below.

3 Responses to Perspective: Lessons from My Son’s Type 1 Diabetes Diagnosis

  • Thanks for sharing your story Pam. I worked with a young man who has Type 1 Diabetes and let me tell you, it didn’t slow him down for a minute! He travels the world making music, has a beautiful wife and probably the best attitude of anyone I know. It doesn’t hold him back in the slightest. But that doesn’t mean he isn’t diligent in his self care, it’s just a part of his life. With your influence I’m sure your son will thrive and live his life to the fullest.

  • Thanks for sharing your stories Pam. I had a friend who has Type 2 Diabetes, and he is 73 years old. He has gone through lots of treatment but that did not change who he is and how he lives his life. He still loves watching the western movies, playing games, traveling, and enjoying the life every minute. Being his friend made me think that I am lucky to have a healthy body. I really love the perspective you have after seeing what happened at the elevator. I wish you and your son live a happy life, and I believe he will be very strong to manage his own symptoms once he turns into an adult.

    • Pam Durant

      Thank you Erin. Managing diabetes is not always easy, but you hit a very important point – it should never change who you are or keep you from living your life! Thank you!

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