And then everything changes…

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…

15 thoughts on “And then everything changes…

  1. All my best to you and your family. This is not fair, but your family sounds strong, so use this strength to learn and live. I will gather my family for a prayer. May God Bless!!!

    Bob Edens & Family

  2. Joe, I’m so sorry to see you having to go through all of this. I know you to be strong so that will help. I know it doesn’t seam like it a lot of the time, but there really is a God who cares, who will lift you up and give amazing strength in times like this, which usually can only be seen when looking back after the crisis point passes. Lean on God. Proverbs 3:5-6. I’ll be paying for you and your family and especially your beloved daughter!

  3. Hey Joe,
    I am so terribly sorry to hear this. We will keep your daughter in our prayers. You have my number, call at any time. It is so easy for me to say the typical cliche’s, however, you have friends and family. Lean on them for the support. We are here if you need us.

    Your Friends,
    Norm, Tanya, and Shelby

  4. Joseph, My 4 year old son, Logan, was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes when he was 2. I know how scared and frustrated you are with the unfortunate realization of what is now part of your life. Being a “part of your life” is what it will eventually be. When my son was diagnosed, I felt as if this was my whole life. Caring for him would be my only concern. Now it is like breathing to my husband and I. It is now part of our lives and it does not control us in any way.
    I started the group “I am a parent of a child with type 1 diabetes” on facebook and noticed that you had joined recently. I do not write a whole lot on the page but I do share some links that I feel people would like to read or look into. I am going to share your story with everyone.
    At times it will seem as though not a single person around you or anyone in this world will or will want to understand what it is like to have to care for your daughter. Please know that this WILL get easier!
    Nicole Kercher

  5. Joe I hope that 2012 is easier for you and your family . I am sure it will be harder for you to adapt to the diabetes than your daughter they are suprisingly adaptable to things
    Take care

  6. We’ll keep your family in our prayers Joe. My dad had diabetes himself, and yes, more than likely brought on by his lifestyle. He had to totally change his diet. It may suck to hear her tell you those words, but she will understand why you are doing it one day, and thank you. I know that is no consolation now, but it is the hand dealt at this time. Be strong for her, and I’m sure you will get through this.

    Hope you folks have a better Christmas.


    • I appreciate it. Her diet is going to change – but mostly in habits, not content. Can’t eat without a correction (shot of insulin in advance). So, no snacking, no eating out, etc. We’re doing as well as we can…

  7. My prayers are with you and your family. You are such a great dad and you’ve told me how amazing Terri is as a mom. Hold tight to your family, such a blessing that some of us “less stable” folks don’t have! When the burden feels like too much, ask the God of your understanding to help take it off your shoulders…it works, it really does! All my love and prayers to all four of you!

  8. Our positive thoughts are yours and your families. One hopes repetition will reduce the stress of the tests and injections. Please remember we are close if you and/or Terri want to unload or just take a break for a while.


    • Thanks – we’re coping as well as can be expected for the moment, and we hope to bring her home from the hospital on Christmas…

  9. I can only say hang in there, it gets better…gives a whole new meaning to our saying “life is a test”, like you, I am ready for my score and am tired of being tested. Be strong for the family, cry in private…..its better for all that way. Have a good xmas and hug her everytime you see her.

    Your Friend ~ Brian

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