Yesterday my friend Tom Karlya asked the question, “Do you wish you had a lot more knowledge about (not the managing aspect) of what ‘it meant’ when you or child was diagnosed with diabetes?” It got me thinking back to our life in the early years of diabetes.
I had no knowledge of diabetes before my son was diagnosed. My mom had a friend with a son with diabetes but I knew them in the days before reusable pens, home blood glucose testing and the popularity of insulin pumps. He was just a child who sometimes got to lay on the couch rather than play outside with the rest of us.
A bit more knowledge of the symptoms may well have empowered me to ask more questions and demand better answers the very first time my son was taken to the hospital. Hindsight is always 20/20 however.
After diagnosis, there was also a period of ignorance. I knew about Dead in Bed and I was suitably terrified. I understood highs and lows and really didn’t want to leave the perceived safety of the hospital. When we were forced to go home, terrible things did happen. One day my son was whining and demanding to go inside. It was the first nice day after a long winter and I was enjoying getting some yard work done. I made him wait. He passed out in the dirt. I didn’t know that his whiny toddler behavior was also a sign that his bg levels were dropping. I learned quickly after that.
Our first illness and broken arm were also dealt with in relative ignorance. I was still trying to wrap my head around what to do and how things worked. I gave him insulin no matter what. I prayed he would eat–he often didn’t but when he was sick, that seemed to be okay. Ignorance allowed me to continue somewhat buffered. I didn’t fear all of the things that could go wrong. I was clinging to my own sanity, overwhelmed by what I did know and not able to begin to think of all that I didn’t.
My heart goes out to the nurses and doctors out there who do know. The ones who can “see” and imagine to the extreme. Ignorance allowed me to learn at a pace that I could psychologically handle. A bit more knowledge before diagnosis may have saved us some serious stress but after? No thanks, the learning curve was steep enough.