My seventeen-year-old was starting to look very thin. Gaunt, even. I asked him, “Are you taking care of your diabetes?”
Concerned, I sat down and scrolled through his glucometer. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. 400s. 500s. Even some HI readings. (Normal is between 80 and 120.) What was going on?
“You’re not getting enough insulin,” I said. “Are you counting your carbs?” This was a kid in a college-level math class. I knew he was very capable of doing the figures.
“Yeah,” he shrugged. “But they prescribed me a ton of insulin at the last clinic visit. It just seems like so much—I don’t dare take that much.”
“Well, obviously you need it,” I said. “These numbers are way, way too high.”
Over the next several days I continued to check his meter, and still his numbers were high. I gave the same speech I’d given hundreds of times, about all the complications of diabetes, what could happen if he didn’t get his readings under control, how he needed to take ALL his insulin, and blah-blah-blah. He seemed to get it, but the numbers weren’t changing.
I called the clinic. “Based on his dosages, the readings don’t make sense,” the nurse told me. “Are you sure he’s taking all the prescribed insulin?”
“He’s hesitant to take such a big dose,” I said. “He says he’s taking the right amount now, but I’m guessing he’s still under-dosing.” The nurse encouraged me to watch him during injection to make sure he was administering the correct amount. That’s tough with a teenager, but I tried.
It was a cold Thursday morning when my son wouldn’t get up for school. “I feel really sick, Mom,” he said. For some reason, my doesn’t-ring-true barometer went off, and I replied, “You’re going to school. Time to get up.” But soon afterwards I could hear him in the bathroom, throwing up.
I called the diabetic clinic, telling them my son’s readings were in the 400s again and that he was pale and vomiting, not keeping down food or liquid. In two hours I called again to update them. And again two hours after that. Despite giving him the injections myself, his blood sugar would not normalize. “Take him to the emergency room,” I was told.
I’ve decided I hate emergency rooms. Despite a whole lot of chaos, you really do sit unattended for a very long time, worrying and frustrated. During that time I had the opportunity to look closely at my son’s face as he lay on the gurney. He looked like a very old man for seventeen. I was heartsick. How did this happen to my son, who in the past had taken great care of himself? Was he dying? Where did I go wrong? Because my son was nearly an adult, I had turned over almost all of his diabetic care to him.
(Continued in my next post…)
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Read about my son’s diagnosis by clicking here.