Monday, March 28, 2011

The Return of Pancreas Boy and the Diabetic Disaster

Of all the things I had to do this weekend- I hadn't ruled out the possibility of ending up at Tripler. To be perfectly honest- it's always a real possibility- especially when you have 6 sports games lined up and a birthday party involving pony rides. I just didn't see us going in for diabetes.

3 years ago this week, I was returning some borrowed items to my mother in law's house. Phillip and his friend were outside playing around with the neighbor's longboard skateboard. In trying to perform some death defying feat, he fell and jabbed himself in the stomach with the board.  We called them in for pizza and Phillip looked like he was going to be sick. He took one bite of pizza and refused the rest. On the way home he got all clammy and started throwing up- he look awful so I took him in. He bruised his pancreas, spent 10 days in the hospital with a feeding tube and from there on out became pancreas boy.

He has routine appointments with the endocrinologist- which is to say, I usually drag him along for Lily's appointments and she squeezes him in. I check his blood sugar sporadically, which is to say when I think of it. As of the last time, I found all my test strips expired last year. A quick internet search revealed I could trick the machine by telling it that it is 2009 so it will read the strips. Brilliant. At his last appointment the endocrinologist was optimistic because all of his tests still look good, which is to say she wasn't expecting that.

For every symptom he had, there was an explanation. He's moody- he's 11 they are all just learning to deal with hormones crazy little maniacs- right? He's tired- but pre-teens sleep like the dead don't they? He's been thirsty- but he's reffing soccer in 80 degree weather, playing flag football and growing- he needs lots of fluids.  Going to the bathroom- well he's old enough I don't have a good record of this- although he did pee behind a lot of bushes in Volcanoes National Park if I stop to think about it. But in my second job as a camel- I was pushing liquids on the little hikers like you read about.  The one symptom that got me is the weight loss.

My kids chunk out and then grow. When they were babies- it fascinated me to watch it- one day they were all pudgy roly poly and they would wake up the next morning lean and wirey. It happens now that they are older- I just had the discussion with Phillip because a month ago he was rounding out a little and I knew he was getting ready for a big growth spurt. So it didn't surprise me when he started looking skinnier- I assumed he grew. Then about a week ago he was walking around without his shirt and I noticed he looked thin. We are active every day, but he played 4 seasons of basketball and never looked this trim. I made a mental note to check his sugars next chance I got. Thin isn't in my repertoire. Call it big boneded, call it whatever you want- my kids come from sturdy stock. I come from generations of food=love and eat the stress away.  Skinny is saved for sickness and chemo- I have many times tried to retrain my thoughts. We have been eating healthy since Phil joined the Crossfit Cult, I mean lifestyle. Eating right and exercising is actually part of our lifestyle- but when Phillip started looking gaunt, I knew something wasn't right.

I wanted to take his fasting blood sugar Saturday, but he ended up wandering over to my neighbor's house for waffles while I was in the shower. I left for a birthday party with Lily and Bell and it got put off for another day. Sunday he rolls out of bed and looks haggard. Haggard enough for Phil to ask him if he's ok. I grab the glucometer, reset the date to 2009 and we give it a whirl. 238. That can't be right. I scrub another finger with alcohol, and the lancet and we try again. 278. No that's not good. "Try me." says my husband sticking out his finger. I laugh, but it's not a bad idea- he's 98. Kiera lines up, she wants a turn- weirdo. I check mine- a little over 100. I try Phillip again- 278. I call my neighbor, who is also one of my few links to sanity. She has a diabetic dog and hence a glucometer that has strips from this year. Can we run a glucose test on him over there- I tell her our problem. He and Phil go over since I still am not dressed. It's 288. My neighbor tells him to take Phillip directly to the ER- she has a diabetic sister and niece- she knows more than your average bear.  We decide that Schofield is a better(faster) option, the boys set out. She tells us we are crazy- he's gonna get a fast pass. Define "fast"?

Hours later, Phillip is formally diagnosed with diabetes and has a bunch of labs drawn. He gets to ride in the ambulance to tripler- and makes Phil take pictures of him.  Phil lets me know when they get admitted so I can bring them overnight bags. And tell Monica she was right. It's a long running battle between the two of them. He tells her she's not right, she pretty much knows she is- he tells her she's not the boss, she rescues us when we need it.  My neighbor shakes her head as she herds my non diabetic children over to her house- he didn't even pack a bag. Look- we know cancer- this is new territory for us. And while we are at it- I'm not happy he's got diabetes- but I am glad it's not a rare disease that nobody knows anything about- it's something, well, manageable. I have a feeling I will be seeing more of our endocrinologist than my husband in the next few months. yaaaaaaay.

I feel the familiar knot in my stomach as I drive to the pink palace on the hill.  Braddah IZ is singing away about somewhere over the rainbow- I look for my sign but either the storm just passed or it hasn't hit yet- hard to say. The boys are sitting outside on a bench and I notice Phillip is just drowning in the hospital gown. I should have tested him sooner. Phil tells me the ER tech said most onset diabetics come in a coma- he wanted to know how we knew to bring him in? Did you tell him Monica made us? She's not the boss of me, he says- even if she was right, this time.  He told the tech that we have monitored him after he busted his pancreas. He was thirsty, losing weight and tired . So the tech asks- why didn't you bring him in sooner? Ah I love medical professionals. I'm pretty sure Phil didn't regale him with tales of tournaments and daily life with 4 kids- I'm sure he just said we brought him in as soon as we tested him. I guess we could have waited for the coma, but that seems a little silly. They will be doing round the clock labs and monitoring all kinds of things. Once he gets the sugars managed and we get our medical degree in diabetic home management, we will be allowed to bring him home. We hope for Tuesday. Phil hopes they have insulin blow darts.

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