J is 12 today.
I remember holding back the tears on his first birthday. He was so tiny and skinny…but he was there. Alive and there to celebrate.
We almost lost him when he was diagnosed. He was 8 months old when all of his symptoms came to a head. Subject to the dreaded Ketoacidosis, his breathing was hard and labored and he was so dehydrated they couldn’t find a vein. A surgeon was called in to cut into his ankle so they could find one. It was an awful awful experience. I often explain the day this way: If you would imagine you are standing on a cliff, with your toes clenched over the sides on a gusty day…that’s where I was. Ready to fall…fall into despair and on the edge of completely losing it. When the doctors swooped in, and he started seizing…I fell apart, I had to leave. My hysterics weren’t helping the doctors, or J. The nurses pushed me into the waiting room and I knelt on the floor and sobbed and prayed. I often feel guilty I wasn’t there with him every minute…but at that moment, I wasn’t strong enough. I was only a puddle of emotions.
I am stronger now.
And so is J.
He is such an amazing kid.
He is strong, funny, smart and stubborn. He is a tween through and through…but a momma’s boy at heart. He was bolusing himself in Kindergarten, he was guessing correct insulin amounts in 1st grade, and counting carbs in 2nd grade. In third grade he lied to me for 3 weeks, calling me with fake blood sugars. We found out it was because he hated being last on the playground. We fixed the problem by having his teacher excuse him 5 minutes before snack, but he will forever have me double checking his meter because of it. He was put into the gifted and talented program in 4th grade and has done all he can to pass without effort ever since. He has spent the last two years getting good grades by doing the bare minimum. If it’s not math, he is not interested. He is a leader, a mentor on the lower grade playground and a voracious reader. He has no tolerance for bullies. He has stood up to more than one on his own behalf, and for others.
Diabetes does not define him. It is a small inconvenience, but is not the determining factor on how he lives his life. He has no idea how amazing he is. He doesn’t know that when he had contests with his brothers, on who had the better blood sugar number, he made diabetes easier for them. He doesn’t know that going first to have his set put in, and smiling saying, ‘it doesn’t even hurt,’ helped his brothers to be brave. He doesn’t know that his bravery and his nonchalance about what he endures have served as a wonderful example to B and L. Diabetes is all he has known. He doesn’t lament his life, wishing he was without it. He has done something I don’t think I ever could…he has accepted diabetes as part of who he is. I see it as something foreign, something I wish would go away. He sees it as his normal…right down to his soul.
Happy birthday sweet boy.