By: Meagan Esler
My oldest nephew, James, has a double whammy to deal with. His aunt, yours truly, has type 1 diabetes, and so does his father. I was in the room when my sister had an ultrasound during her pregnancy with James, and I clearly remember the doctor asking her if anyone in her family had diabetes. We shared a look as she informed the doctor of my diabetes and her husband’s diabetes. I know we also shared a silent prayer as the reality hit us that diabetes might be passed on to her children.
Studies have shown that the presence of certain antibodies indicates a higher risk of developing type 1 diabetes. My sister was offered the option by her family doctor of having her children undergo this diabetes-risk testing. Of her three children, James, at just nine years old, was the only one who tested positive for the presence of the antibodies that may lead to a diabetes diagnosis.
James is an amazing boy. He does fencing, plays baseball, loves video games and ancient Egyptian history, helps care for his younger siblings, and has a smile that absolutely melts your heart. James underwent further testing, including a blood test and glucose tolerance test. Thankfully, he doesn’t have diabetes at present, but his physician wants to continue testing him every six months. Our nerves are rattled, and we are worried about an impending diagnosis. I was diagnosed at eighteen years old, his father at four, so we know that a positive diagnosis can occur at any age.
All we can do now is take one day at a time and watch James grow up. We hope never to see him run for a drink of water with an unquenchable thirst, hope never to see him run to the restroom every hour, and hope never to see his already incredibly lean frame drop more weight. I pray like mad that he stays healthy.
I do find comfort, though, in the fact that should James ever become one of us, he will be in good hands. His loved ones will know instantly, at the first symptom, what we are dealing with. My sister, his mom, is no stranger to treating blood sugar highs and lows in both her husband and me. She helped me accept my own diabetes, and she would be a wonderful “D” mom. If a diagnosis should happen for James, we will introduce him to carb counting, insulin bolusing, sick-day plans, and all the crazy details of life with diabetes. Most importantly, we will make sure that he lives a healthy, wonderful, and happy life despite diabetes.