Our family is a normal little family. There is nothing too extreme nor too bold in our lives. I had a fairly stable job of eighteen years. Often I was completely overwhelmed. I struggled to run a store that had been set-up to fail. For ten years I had managed to make it prosperous. The challenges of hard work and managing my diabetes often took a physical and mental toll on me. But I persisted in the day to day grind. Smiling, when anyone would say they didn’t know how I managed. I always wondered how I could keep it up with everything that was going on.
To be successful took long hours. Often, my eating and sleeping patterns were altered. My blood sugars would swing back and forth. This played havoc on my health. The irregular sugars placed stress on my kidneys. The stress on my kidneys affected the fluid and muscles in my legs. Daily, as I climbed stairs and pulled wire at work, I wanted to quit. My eye sight ranged from well to horrible. Eventually my entire circulatory system suffered. I had recently fought through the recovery process of having had several small strokes.
Like many mothers my wife always worried if any of the kids would suffer with diabetes. She had often brought it up over the past six years. So I wanted to shrug it off when she asked, “don’t you think Egan has been going to the bathroom a lot?” I sat there too tired to move let alone think. I told her, “He’s been drinking soda all day it’s nothing”. But as I usually did, I got out my test meter so that she could check his sugar. It was in those next few moments that I realized all of the times that I thought I couldn’t take much more, I was wrong. The meter read five hundred and two. I was hung between terror and guilt. Every bit of the pain I had gone through the past thirty three years, I saw hung on my son’s shoulders. How could I with my faulty genes ever have done this to such a beautiful child. I allowed myself a minute to go outside out of his sight to cry.
Then, immediately, I took up the mantle of being a dad and started handling the situation. I called who needed to be called so that no one was left hanging at work. We called the friends and family that we would need to help us with my other son Petey. We loaded the car and head towards Chesapeake, knowing the best health care was north of us. We spent hours in Chesapeake General as they started IV’s of fluid and insulin to bring his sugar down. The nurses were constantly monitoring his heart rate. Chesapeake started preparing him for transport to Children’s Hospital of the Kings Daughters and all Egan wanted was to go home. We constantly reassured him that everything was going to be alright.
The whole time my head was spinning. There were so many things to do. There would be so many complications to every aspect of his and our life. The constant checking of blood sugar, as he played soccer, would be a chore. So many things we would have to keep up with just to take a trip into town, not to mention school trips. Extra food and supplies would have to be nearby and added to our normal routines.
Every doctor that came and went took a small bit of fear from us. But ever looming was the question of how is he going to handle all of this disease. My questions were quickly answered. The nurses would explain to him what he needed to do. He would smile and tell the nurses how he helped me. The nurses first explained what blood sugars were normal and what was dangerous or out of the target range. The nurses wanted him to be able to draw up his own insulin before he was released. Egan amazed the nurses when he not only was able to prepare the needle, but at 6 years old, he gave his own injection. Every task they set for him to learn we worked on and he excelled beyond what the nurse expected. At times the “daddy I don’t want to be a diabetic” would wrench my heart. But, sometimes, he would smile and tell his mom he was going to do something with daddy because we were alike. The bond between us was different perhaps stronger, but, definitely different. We rapidly showed the nurses what they needed to see: the ability to measure insulin and compensate for both his carbohydrate intake and his blood glucose level.
Egan was released two days early because of his hard work. We loaded up the car and headed home weary and hopeful. A long hard week was behind us and we were now prepared to tackle the rest of our lives again. All Egan was worried about was not missing his first football practice. We only stopped for lunch and for him to change clothes. After a week in the hospital he ran out on to the field as if nothing that big had happened.
I’ve watched him go through many of the same emotions that I have. Often it overwhelms him. I can see it in his eyes that he wonders why he has diabetes and sometimes he wants to give up, but he refuses. I am glad, that of all the things we share, we share the ability to continue on no matter what, we forge ahead. ©2-11-11 MJMansfield