Volume 3, Number 1: Spring Equinox, 2001 - Special Children's Issue

Small Blessings - BC Endocrine Research Foundation

Susanne Burns

We can be thankful for having a healthy and happy son. We are thankful that he can grow up to live a normal life and pursue any dreams or professional goals he may have. We are thankful that people can live an almost “normal” life with insulin dependent diabetes. Nicholas has had diabetes since age 3½. It took about three weeks to diagnose his diabetes, as he had also acquired Fifth’s disease (or slapped cheek childhood disease) prior to this. His baby brother had arrived six weeks earlier. Why did it take this long to diagnose Nicholas? Partly in fact to denial that your child could have diabetes. That the excessive thirst and drinking of fluids was because he was sick and that it was hot outside. That he was peeing so much because he was drinking so much. The flushed cheeks were due to the Fifth’s disease not because his blood sugar was probably through the roof. While visiting in Port Alberni, the day before he was diagnosed, we recorded him to have 14 drinks and go to the bathroom 10 times. We went from Port Alberni to the ferry to the family doctor, who said, ” I think Nicholas has diabetes”. I will never forget those words and the proceeding days that followed. Our next stop that same day was Children’s Hospital Emergency where they finalized the diagnosis and gave Nicholas his first dose of insulin.

Disbelief, shock, anger, and grief may best describe how we as parents and family members reacted to this unanticipated event. The following weeks entailed struggling with the right food choices and administering the insulin shots. Having to “pin-down” your child to be able to give the shot was heart breaking. Nicholas still three years later, cringes when we approach him to give him his insulin. We are very lucky as parents that Nicholas likes to eat and were thankful that he was not a picky eater as a toddler. Also challenging was developing a rigid schedule for meal times and snacks. Gone is the spontaneity of eating when convenient. Gone are the days when Nicholas could sleep in late in the morning. Gone are the days when he cannot go to bed early because he has to wait to eat a snack first. Gone are worry-free days for our son. Gone are the times where you could leave your child with others and not worry. Gone are the nights when you don’t worry about low or high blood sugars.

We are thankful Nicholas is a caring, easy going and courageous child who loves life, despite his diabetes. It is part of our daily routine to check blood sugars 4-6 times per day and give him insulin 2-3 times per day. It is part of our routine to always be organized and plan ahead as much as possible. To always have food on hand and think ahead about his activity level. To think about the weather that day because if it is sunny, you know he will be running more outside at school and could develop a low blood sugar. To have everything planned for the baby sitter so she knows exactly when to give him his snack and what to eat and exactly what portion size. To always wear our pager so the school can reach us if Nicholas is low.

Diabetes does not let your mind rest. We strive for normalcy as much as possible for our son to live a normal life, as he grows older. We also are very thankful that we have an extremely knowledgeable and caring health care team at Children’s Hospital Diabetes Clinic to guide us down this unchosen path. We hope for a cure every day. Most of all, we are thankful to have Nicholas as our son with or without diabetes.

His Mother — Susanne Burns

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