It started on a December Sunday when my 10-year-old son returned from a weekend visit with his dad. He hadn't felt well over the weekend and had spent most of the time watching television from a couch. Usually he and his dad spend time outdoors so this was unusual for him. I kept an eye on him but he just seemed a little off so the next morning he went off to school.
Two hours into the school day and I get a call that N isn't feeling well. No fever but complaining of stomach pain. I pick him up ten minutes later and we take the rest of the day off. No symptoms all day. He seemed fine but just a bit tired. I keep him home Tuesday just to be safe but again, no symptoms. Wednesday he is back at school.
Right about lunchtime I get the call from the school again that N is in the office not feeling well. He NEVER goes to the nurse so she is concerned. We talked a bit about his lack of symptoms and fever but I decide to take him home. The rest of the day he hangs on the couch watching television. No fever, no stomach issues, just tired. Thursday the vomiting began after eating and I though, "well, there's the flu". I call the pediatrician and get the symptoms for this year's illness and sure enough it matches: tired for several days then vomiting some with fevers and some without. I'm told to watch for dehydration and come in if he isn't better in a day or two. Thursday and Friday he has times of tired and times of seeming like he is on the mend. The vomiting was infrequent (3 times throughout the day) and we haven't seen it since Thursday so I figure we're on the right path.
Saturday night he comes to find me after his bedtime to say he can't sleep. His breathing has changed to an audible breath and my level of unease goes shooting up. I spend the night on the trundle bed in his room.
Sunday morning I call the pediatrician to come in but they can't see us until the afternoon. I was so uneasy with the look of him, the sound of his breathing, and by this point he was having trouble with his balance when walking. So we decide to take him into the urgent care clinic rather than wait for the appointment. At urgent care they draw blood (no easy task because he is dehydrated) and check him over. Their lab isn't open weekends so we are sent home with a prescription for some antibiotics for a possible sinus infection (because of the breathing which is now pretty forceful blowing out through his nose) and told to keep him on fluids like pedialyte or gatorade to rehydrate. They say they'll call us if they find anything in the blood work but without a fever they are sure it isn't flu. We cancel the pediatrician, pick up the meds and fluids, and spend the rest of the day pushing those fluids and some mild foods like toast and banana.
Sunday night I hunker down on the trundle bed again but I'm not sleeping at all listening to his breathing. It is getting worse. I've already decided by ten p.m. that we are going into the pediatrician in the morning. N is sleeping fitfully and complaining that he can't sleep because his ribs hurt (probably from the forceful breathing). In the middle of the night, I move him to the recliner in the living room to see if I can get him more comfortable. As he tries to sleep I'm just watching him and feeling overwhelmed. I finally called my sister who lives nearby; she's a labor and delivery nurse so I knew she wouldn't panic or overreact and I thought maybe she would come over and make me feel less worried. She doesn't live far away so she showed up a little after midnight. She took one look at N and said "get in the car, we're going to the emergency room". She sped the whole way!
We pulled N from the car and went directly to the emergency room desk where I finally lost it. Tears streaming down my face I said "my son can't breath and I don't know what to do". Those people in the emergency room...they are quick, efficient, and amazing. I am completely grateful for their quick and supportive care of my son. Into a wheelchair he went, pulse oxygen monitor on his finger said he was getting plenty of oxygen and we're taken back to a triage room. He's moved into a bed. Many, many people were bustling around hooking up this and monitoring that but one nurse took a moment to let me know he was in good hands and they would work it out. It was less than ten minutes from when we arrived in the ER to when the doctor came in to tell me "we know what's going on and this is going to work out fine...your son has type 1 diabetes." then he smiled at me and said "I bet you didn't know that." Well no, I didn't know that, but as soon as I heard it I felt relieved. I know everyone who gets this diagnosis for their child feels differently but in that moment all I felt was grateful that we knew what was going on and that type 1 diabetes is completely treatable and people who have T1 can live long and happy lives. Isn't that all we want for our children?