My husband grew up in a bakery. His parents came from Germany and opened a bakery in the 70’s. I got to know my husband when I got a job at his bakery when I was 18. Long story short, I married him 2 years later. We were young and blissfully happy. We weren’t married a year before I began lobbying for a baby. I convinced him with the premise that it usually takes a year or two to get pregnant, and of course, I got pregnant weeks after we began trying. Our first son, M, was born right after our second anniversary. Our second son J followed two years later.
J wasn’t 7 months old when we began to worry about his health. He was such a skinny little fellow, very clingy, and a crier. There was always this sick feeling in the back of my stomach, the motherly intuition that tells you something is wrong. I took him to the doctor a couple times, but he always checked out. In his seventh month he began waking up with diapers so wet they would literally be fallen off by the time I got to him. And he was always thirsty. Now, my older brother has Type 1 Diabetes. He was diagnosed just a couple years before, but he lived in Taiwan at the time, so I was very much removed from the entire situation. I think I probably let the idea flutter in the back of my head that J was diabetic, but he was a baby, so I quickly dismissed the possibility. We spent a month fighting thrush and various yeast infections in his diaper area. He became increasingly needy and skinny until one evening it all came to a head. He was throwing up, lethargic, and by the time we got to the emergency room, seizing. He was so dehydrated they had to call in a surgeon to find a vein to hydrate him. We almost lost J that night. I spent the entire night in the waiting rooms making deals with god. Please save my baby. It was my pediatrician that diagnosed him the next morning. He was airlifted to San Francisco and our diabetic life began.
I was told that the chances of having another child with diabetes were 3-5%. Not that this had any bearing on our decision to have another child, but it was four years later that B was born. He was a giant baby, 10 pounds 4 oz. and a full 24 inches long. He was so easy compared to J. His first two years were only a joy as he was such a happy and content baby. Our forth son L was born two years to the day after B. L was a surprise pregnancy, not that I don’t know how it all works, just the odds of him coming to this world were a million to one and he found a way. L was 2 ½ when he woke me up one morning telling me he was thirsty. Three more times in an hour, thirsty, thirsty, and thirsty. I checked his sugar and he was 220. I called the doctor hysterical. Blood tests confirmed, only slightly, that he would be a type 1 diabetic. We caught it so early that for the next 3 months we treated him like a type 2. As long as he didn’t eat anything too sugary, his blood sugars were in range. He got strep throat and ended up in the hospital because his throat closed and he had a hard time breathing. The illness accelerated the autoimmune process and he was on insulin before we left the hospital and on an insulin pump 4 months later.
Fast forward one year when B was bugging me for a drink after a party we went to. His blood sugar was 179. Our regular endo was on vacation and the fill-in dismissed the fact that he was on the diabetic road. I checked his sugar on and off for a month, in denial, hoping I was imagining things. 95% of his blood sugars were normal. It was that 5% that indicated the inevitable. He began insulin one week before he began kindergarten and began pumping two months later.
Ryan and I were married 19 years. Our boys are 18, 15, 11 and 9. My oldest is not diabetic. Tests indicate he is in the clear, for the next few years anyway. My husband closed the bakery five years ago and began selling bakery supplies to other bakers. He loved the job and I loved the fact that he didn’t work 12-15 hour days anymore. Through this blog I hope to relate experiences we had and help others see that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Whatever emotional phase you are in as a loved one of a diabetic, we’ve been there. And the worry, that sits with you like an old friend, he is our friend too. We just try not to make him the life of the party. Take the ride with us.
The rest of the story: My husband was diagnosed with Metastatic Melanoma the end of February 2012. His leg was heavy...I made him go to the emergency room and the doctor immediately wanted to do a brain scan. I thought the doctor was mental...he had to have a blood clot in his leg or something, right? I'll never forget hearing the gasp from the doctor behind the emergency room curtain when he got the call with the brain scan results. 6 brain tumors, and further scans revealed tumors in his lungs and abdomen. We spent the next six months in a bubble of faith. Ryan was convinced that no matter what, everything was going to be ok. If you spent five minutes with him, you would have believed too. We prayed for a miracle every day, and sure enough we received multiple miracles along the way. After courageously enduring hundreds of doctor appointments, and multiple treatments, Ryan passed away on September 2nd, 2012 in the arms of his family. Even with over 100 tumors in his brain, he was Ryan until the very end. He knew us. He loved us. He inspired us. And as much as we miss him and mourn his separation from us, we know he is still around gently comforting us and letting us know that all is well. He will forever be a strong guiding force within our family.