As we close out 2011, I am wrapping up 24 months of my life that I can only refer to as “upheaval”. I’m a pretty stable guy – tend to be long term with jobs, I’m married, with 2 kids and a dog, a homeowner, and have a viewpoint that trends a little right of center.
In the last 24 months, I’ve changed jobs 3 times, moved twice (3 times if you count a few months in an extended stay as a “residence”), was hit financially by the housing bubble, am working a new job that has quality people and a customer ethic I agree with (even if the hours tend towards “crushing”), and I was just starting to hope that 2012 would be the year that my family and I would finally swing back to the normal that I vaguely remember from the 2000 – 2007 period.
I was so completely wrong.
I apologize in advance, as this post is of a significantly more personal and less coherent than usual. It’s 3:30 in the morning on 12/24, and I’m in a hospital room at Phoenix Children’s Hospital.
On Tuesday the 20th, my 9 year old daughter was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, and my wife and I became the parents of a diabetic.
Alex is a rambunctious child. She’s smart, stubborn, creative, opinionated, and has a temper that doesn’t end. She and her mother don’t have the relationship I would hope for them to have (or probably them either, for that matter). She’s not an angel – but she’s my angel.
I just had to wake her up at 3:00 AM to take her blood for a blood sugar test. She has diagnosed anxiety issues, and is terrified of needles. Every one of these draw blood then give an insulin shot (5 times a day) events creates 15 minutes of screaming terror for her – with an extra long term insulin shot every day thrown in for good measure. She doesn’t mean it of course, but having to hold her down and hurt her while she screams and yells “I hate you”, “It’s going to hurt”, and just an overall shrill scream until she runs out of breath is an experience that I can’t describe to someone who hasn’t gone through something similar.
I didn’t know much about diabetes before this week. I “knew” there was a juvenile diabetes that had a genetic component, and an “adult” diabetes caused more by lifestyle. I know a lot more about diabetes now. For instance, these are actually called type 1 and type 2. I’ve spent a lot of time researching diabetes that I would normally have spent working or keeping up with technology (or getting ready for Christmas). There’s a lot of good people working on this, and new technologies come out all the time that allow diabetics to do everything a non diabetic can – so long as they use those technologies correctly to manage their blood sugar. I’ve already checked out several support groups. You can bet I’m am going to become the lay person’s version of an expert on diabetes and diabetes research.
At the same time, today, I need to help my little girl through something she should never have had to face – and I need to keep my game face on while I do it, because if she knew how I felt it would be even worse for her. I need to help my wife and son cope with our new reality, as my wife is taking this ever worse than I am (of course) and my son is so worried that he spent Alex’s first night of hospitalization at home throwing up.
I’m just really tired…