How does a mother keep her sense of humor when her 12-year old son has just been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes? Well, it’s not easy, but…
It all started with a routine urine test at an annual exam. No big deal. My son had no symptoms of diabetes. But something in his urine test was “off.” One test led to another, and before you knew it, we were at Children’s Hospital Boston for a full work-up.
After meeting with the endocrinologist and watching what seemed like a bucket of blood being drawn from my son’s tiny veins, we were sent home to wait for the results. I still didn’t think anything was wrong. In fact, I was so confident that we stopped for pizza and ice cream on our way home to “reward” my son for being so brave. Bad idea!
We couldn’t have been home longer than 15 minutes when the phone rang.
“Hello, Mrs. Mahoney.”
“This is Dr. McDonald. I just wanted to let you know that your son does have type 1 diabetes.”
“His oral glucose tolerance test came back, and his sugar was over 300. You need to bring him back to the hospital tonight and admit him for two days.”
“What? You mean right now?” I asked, as I looked at my still asymptomatic son wrestling with his little brother in the other room.
“Yes, Mrs. Mahoney. It’s important that we get his sugar under control and teach you how to take care of him.”
“Well, alrighty then. We’ll see you later.” (click)
By the time we got to the hospital my son’s blood sugar was over 400. You wouldn’t know it, though. He was lying there watching SpongeBob and contorting his hospital bed into spectacular configurations with glee. For all intents and purposes he seemed…well…normal.
All night, the nurses poked and prodded him. I was amazed at what a good sport he was. At about 11:30 p.m., he even said, “Mom, since I never get to stay up ‘til midnight on New Year’s Eve, can I stay up tonight and pretend it’s New Years?”
“Sure, honey” I said, not sure where this was going.
As the magical hour approached, he started counting down, “5, 4, 3, 2, 1…Happy New Life! I have diabetes. Woo! Hoo!”
Wow! I couldn’t help but smile. Here this kid was just diagnosed with a serious disease and he’s cracking jokes. It was at that moment that I realized everything was going to be OK.
The next day a group of interns came into the room. Learning from my son’s example, I decided to “lighten up.” I watched as the doctor wannabes tried to flaunt their stuff, thinking that it looked like a scene straight out of Grey’s Anatomy. I couldn’t help but think, “Hmmm. I wonder if any of them are like Meredith? Or Cristina? And who’s sleeping with whom?” It was a great stress reliever from the information overload we had been experiencing.
Then I was jolted back to reality. “Mrs. Mahoney, does diabetes run in your family?”
“Uh, yes. Both my brother and sister have type 1, but somehow I managed to dodge the bullet.”
“Mom, you might have dodged the bullet, but it hit me right between the eyes,” my son cleverly quipped.
Now that we’re home, we still find things to laugh about. We have to. We choose to. This is OUR new life. My son has diabetes. Woo! Hoo!
Kathryn Mahoney is a freelance humor writer and author of “Cracked at Birth: One Madcap Mom’s Thoughts on Motherhood, Marriage & Burnt Meatloaf.” To read more of her work, please visit www.mahoneyink.com.