My name is Emma Williams. I am married to Michael, and we have 2 wonderful boys Meical aged 8 and Jac aged 3. We had a normal family life until in May 2011.
We noticed that Jac (then aged 2) seemed to be starting to go through the terrible two's. We did not think too much of it to start with as he just seemed to have mood swings and was being a bit grumpy. But then as the month progressed he also started to seem unwell. He had an ear infection which would not go away despite 3 lots of antibiotics, and he would ask to go out on his scooter, but then stand crying outside desperate to come home. We could not figure out what was wrong, again we thought he was being moody!
After about 3 weeks of this behaviour, the real problems started. One day he woke up and drank and drank and drank. He must have got through pints of water and was also sleeping a lot more, needing to have 2 naps in the day whereas previously he had needed none.
Myself and my husband presumed that he must have a bladder or kidney infection, so after a couple of days of the drinking and sleeping I managed to catch a urine sample (no mean feat from a toddler that was not potty trained!) and got him to the doctor.
Once at the doctors after going through his symptoms, she dip sticked his sample to check for any signs of infection, the stick went the darkest colour possible, which meant nothing to me at the time but the doctor went white! She immediately got on the phone to the children's ward and we were sent straight there.
They were very quickly had a diagnosis of Type 1 Diabetes and Jac had IV's put straight in, his blood was checked with a finger prick and blood glucose meter which showed a result of 'HI', he had bloods taken for analysis, and he also was in mild DKA.
All this happened in a whirlwind of time and my memories of that specific hour are a blur, Jac was screaming hysterically, the consultants and nurses were frantically doing all the necessary things they needed to, and we were told that he was 12 hours from a coma and possibly death. Our minds were on overload and I went into fight mode, only able to deal with the immediate happenings of trying to stabilise Jac, and not thinking about the implications that one hour previously I thought Jac had a bladder infection and now he was dangerously ill and what on earth did the future hold?
Jac's blood results came back with the actual blood reading of 46mmols and he was started on insulin injections.
After a week in hospital we were released into the big wide world, and I have to say by this point I did not want to leave! It was much safer in hospital in a nice little bubble with all the support of the doctors and nurses, and plus when we left that meant I would be responsible for pinning down my baby to inject him, and checking his blood with a finger prick and glucose meter every 2 hours or more depending on how he was acting and if he was pale or looking strange. It took 3 nurses to pin Jac down to inject him, so how on earth was I going to manage???
The week in hospital had been spent learning about diabetes, stabilising Jac, and doing a lot of crying. I think the doctors used to dread doing the morning rounds to our cubicle because I would not be able to hold a conversation without breaking down in tears! It was just so much to take in all at once, and I was an emotional wreck.
Returning home was scary, but it meant we learnt a lot about how to care for Jac, and quickly. There was no room to mess up when we were dealing with something that could potentially kill him. We reached a compromise with injections when we realised Jac hated seeing the needle coming towards his leg, so we moved to his buttocks and did it very matter of factly and as quickly as possible, teamed with a cool sticker chart for every injection, he got used to it, although it probably took us about 6 weeks of fighting with him to reach this point.
It has been a long and difficult year. I found it terribly hard to process the emotional side of watching my child going through this. Once the initial danger period had passed and we started to get used to dealing with the day to day aspects, (injecting, glucose checking, carbohydrate counting, highs and lows) I just felt so sad. All I could focus on was keeping Jac happy and healthy, keeping our family life as normal as possible, including older brother Meical and giving him attention too , also making time for Michael and for us to still be husband and wife to keep in unity and support each other. I think it was a lot to cope with and the pressure did get a bit too much sometimes. It helped to talk it through but it was a long year!
I have reached the point now where I view Type 1 Diabetes as a pain in the backside, but it's not the worst thing in the world. Many people face difficulties that are horrific. I count ourselves lucky that we live now, and not in the past when medical equipment would not be as available and would be basic to say the least.