Four years ago today, we almost lost our "little" Christopher! Many people ask me what happened or how did we know, so I am going to tell our story. Please forgive me for the length of this post, but it is a long story! :)
It began on Friday afternoon when Christopher came home from school (December 16, 2005). He told me that he wasn't feeling very good. He didn't have a fever and he couldn't exactly tell me what was wrong. He just said that he didn't feel right. So, I told him that he could just go lay down and rest. We went through the rest of the evening with no incident.
Saturday morning Rich and I were redoing our bathroom floor. When Christopher got up he said he wasn't feeling well. Soon the vomiting started. He was not running a fever, though. I asked him if he was achy all over and he said no. As the morning progressed so did the vomiting. We tried crackers, ginger ale, popsicles, and water. He could keep nothing down. It got progressively worse throughout the afternoon. Then, Rich had to leave for work.
After Rich left, we went about our evening and I tucked the kids in bed. Christopher was vomiting multiple times an hour at this point. I really thought he just had a really bad case of the flu. I gave him the option of staying downstairs or going to his bed. He said he just wanted to go get in his bed. I stayed downstairs and cleaned up from the night. I checked on Christopher a couple of times too. However, a short time after I had checked on him last, he came downstairs because he had vomited everywhere (he missed the bucket) BUT here is where it got SCARY!! His breathing was crazy. He sounded like he had just finished running a marathon. He was breathing so hard and loud and fast. He was a pale/ashy color. He looked so sick...and his mouth was bone dry. His tongue felt like sand paper and he could barely open it. It really scared me so I called my wonderful brother-in-law (he is a PA-Physician's assistant) and asked him what could be wrong and what to do. He asked me a couple of questions and one of those was does his breath smell fruity? I smelled Christopher's breath and to my amazement there was no "sick smell". You know the smell...when people are sick there is just a "sick smell" to their breath. He told me I needed to get him to the ER right away. He even offered to come and pick us up. I told him that wasn't necessary that I could call my mom to come help me get him there. She only lived 5 minutes away. He was very firm that I needed to get him there right away and that he could come get us if I needed him too. But, I called my mom and she was here pronto. I called Rich and told him what was going on and that we were headed to the ER and he said he would meet me there. Christopher could barely walk at this point so I needed help getting him into the hospital. Luckily, we literally live less than 5 minutes from the hospital. I woke up Brittaney and told her what was going on and that I needed her to stay with the kids. We left with Christopher and rushed to the ER!!
When we got to the ER we had to wait in triage...STUPID people!! I asked them if he could ahve some water because he was sooooooo dry! They said NO! However, I went into a little room right there that had a sink in it and scooped water into my hands and went out and poured it into his mouth. I felt like a momma bird feeding her little baby bird! :) I felt like my son might be dying while I was waiting for the triage nurse so I got a "little upset"!! Needless to say they got us right in and they called the Dr. in immediately once they saw him. Considering we had to carry my son into the room, I think they finally got it! The Dr. took us right into an exam room. I think Bill had called ahead and told them we were coming (he works in this ER so he has connections)!! :) Anyway, the Dr. took his blood sugar immediately and it registered HI which means his blood sugar was over 600. He drew some blood and told us we would have to wait for the blood work to find out exactly how high it was. Now mind you...his blood sugars are suppose to range between 80-120 so this was EXTREMELY high!! The Dr. told us immediately that Christopher had TYPE 1 DIABETES. I still remember that exact moment. My heart stopped and the tears started to flow...but then immediately I thought...STOP, you have to be strong for Christopher!! I wanted to make sure that I heard and understood EVERYTHING the Dr. was saying.
The Dr. got the bloodwork back and his Blood sugars were almost 800! He had large ketones and the Dr. told us he was in DKA (Diabetic Ketoacidosis) which is life-threatening!! He told us that they needed to get his blood sugars down, but that they had to do it carefully and slowly. He also told us that Christopher was too sick to stay at this hospital so they were going to transfer him by ambulance to Riley Hospital for Children (downtown)!! I am so thankful that we live here and had this facility available to us! They told us that he would be in the hospital for 3 days because we (Rich, and I) would have to go through a 3-day course on how to take care of him and give shots and everything.
The Dr. asked me how much Christopher weighed and I told him and he said ok, but let's check just to make sure. They weighed him and they told me his weight...he had lost 20 lbs in less than 2 weeks. I told him that was wrong and that they needed to weigh him again. They did and got the same result. I thought to myself...how did I miss him losing 20 lbs. so quickly? But, he is a 9 yr old boy (during winter) wearing big sweatshirts and I don't watch my son get dressed so I didn't notice. I felt soooo bad!! They had asked me if he had been going to the bathroom alot or drinking alot. I thought to myself...I don't pay attention to every time he has gotten a drink or when he goes to the bathroom. However, Rich and I had noticed that he was getting up a lot in the middle of the night to pee, but we didn't think anything of it! I just thought maybe he was drinking a lot before bed. The weight loss, the excessive thirst and drinking and the excessive peeing are all signs of diabetes. How could I not have known???? Maybe because there is NO family history of type 1 diabetes on either side of our families.
They began his IV immediately and started the insulin and IV fluids. Finally, the ambulance team arrived. Christopher was a little more coherant by this time. He said he needed to go to the bathroom but they didn't want him getting out of bed so they gave him a jug and I left the room while Rich helped him. I was gone all of 2 minutes, but when I went back in the room, Christopher grabbed his head and said that his head was really hurting. I went and got the Dr. and he came in and checked him out. Then, they sent us on our way.
I rode in the ambulance with Christopher and Rich drove our car behind us. The paramedic checked him as we were leaving. It was a VERY long ride (or so it seemed)! The paramedic and I were talking and then he told Christopher that he needed to check his blood sugar. Christopher didn't respond...he was asleep (or so I thought). The paramedic shook his shoulder and tried to wake him up, but nothing. He started shaking harder, touched his face and then started pinching his chest....I started to PANIC!! Christopher was not moving...what was wrong with my baby?? He kept trying to wake him up and talk to him, but NOTHING! He yelled something up to the driver and that's when we picked up speed! Luckily, we were only a couple minutes away from Riley. When we got there, they rushed him in and stuff started being yelled throughout the ER. A whole bunch of Dr's and nurses came running and before we knew what had happened, Rich and I were in a corner of a big room watching all of these people work on our baby! I have never been so scared in all of my life! Finally, a nurse came over and told us what was going on. Christopher had slipped into a coma, his brain was swelling, and they were giving him manitol and they were doing everything that they could! They told us we could stay in the room as long as we stayed out of the way...so we did! There were so many people around him working on him, that I couldn't see him except for a piece here and there. I just wanted to scoop him up in my arms and hold him, but I couldn't! Rich and I both just stood there, Rich put his arm around me and just held me! I don't know how long all of that lasted...it seemed like an eternity!
Eventually, the Dr. came over and talked to us! Most everything at this point is just a blur to me now. Most of the Dr.'s and nurses left the room. My first instinct was...he needs a blessing. So, Rich called a good friend of ours, Bryan Roach. He was a member of our bishopric and is also a cop. At the time, he was also doing security for the Indianapolis Colts...he was Peyton Manning's security (cool, I know)! :) Luckily, when Rich called he was downtown with the Colts and so he came right over. We asked the nurse if we could have a moment and she said sure and closed the door and curtain to the room. (she said she had to stay because someone had to be in the room at all times). We were fine with that and she was VERY respectful. Rich and Bryan gave him a blessing and I felt the spirit so strongly! I wish I could remember what was said, but I don't. I just remember the feelings that I had! How thankful I am for friends that dropped everything to come to our aid!
We were waiting to be moved up to the critical care ICU!! Richard looked at me and said, "Why don't you go home and get a shower and get changed." I thought..."Are you CRAZY?" What I then realized was Rich didn't get the seriousness of this. He looked over at the nurse and said, "He's ok now, right? She can go home and shower and get changed?" I will never forget the nurses face when she looked at me, and then she turned to Rich and said he is stable but he is still in critical condition!" That is when it seemed to hit Rich! The blood drained out of his face and he became white as a ghost! It registered...! Needless to say, I didn't go home that day for a shower! My best friend, Angie and her 2 boys (Christopher's best friends) came up to the ER to see us! Christopher was still unconscious, but he did wake up for the first time while they were there. It didn't last very long, but that was great that he had woken up! I don't think Angie will ever know how much that meant to me that she was there for me during all of that! She is the BEST friend I have ever had! I love her to pieces and she will forever be my BEST FRIEND!! (whether she likes it or not...haha)
Anyway, we waited a long time in the ER before being transferred upstairs. It is Sunday afternoon now. We finally got upstairs and it was nice because we were right in front of the nurse's station. It was soooo quiet! Luckily we have some wonderful friends. One of those being Marc Duerden. He is a Dr. and our old Bishop. He came up to the hospital to sit with Rich and I. Also, my mom talked to Jodi Smith (a woman in our ward) who is one of the best pediatric neurosurgeons in the country. She called me and then she came up to the hospital. She is the head pediatric neurosurgeon at Riley! Also, our old stake president (who is now Elder Chipman) came up to the hospital. He was the head of something that had to do with diabetes before he retired. Needless to say, we were surrounded with wonderful people who had medical backgrounds and were there to see that Christopher received the BEST treatment and were there to explain things to us. We felt soooo blessed! A BIG thank you to everyone who was there for us!
My mom and dad came up to the hospital after church (my parents had our kids) and they brought them with them. They were allowed to go in and see Christopher for a brief period. It was good for them to see him, especially Brittaney, because she saw the condition he was in when we left for the hospital the night before and she was very scared. Everyone stayed for a little while and then everyone left and went home. Rich took the kids home because only one of us could stay in the room with Christopher overnight.
This is when it all physically hit me. I was sitting in this tiny room staring at my son in a bed hooked up to all sorts of stuff and he was sleeping. It was just me and my thoughts in this room. How was I going to do this? What if I didn't know how to take care of him or what to do? He is my kid who hates shots, so what now? How do I give my kid 5-6 shots a day or even ask him to do it to himself? What if I calculate wrong and give him too much or too little insulin? Mostly...how did I miss the signs? I could have lost him! About that time, I started to feel sick to my stomach and very nauceous. Unfortunately, the bathroom was at the other end of the hall. I felt like I was going to be sick, but I didn't want to leave the room. What if he woke up and I wasn't there? What if he got scared and didn't know where he was? Note: the first couple of times he woke up he was combative and didn't know where he was or what was happening. Needless to say, I wound up running to the bathroom a couple of times that night! The nurses felt so bad and were so nice to me. If they saw me running they went straight into his room to sit with him. They told me this happens all the time, especially in the evenings once friends and family leave. That is when a lot of it tends to hit people...in the quiet of the evening hours when you are alone. Luckily, it didn't last very long and Christopher didn't wake up while I was gone. I didn't sleep at all that night (or Saturday night either). I was too afraid that he would wake up and I would miss him. I wanted to tell him that I loved him and that I was right there if he needed me! I couldn't do that if I fell asleep. I think I sang every primary song and hymn I knew that night. I paced the floor when I started to doze off. I think I probably spent half of the night praying too! I wished so badly that Rich could have been there with me, but I knew that our other kids needed someone with them too! Thanks Rich for being there for them!
The next morning he woke up and stayed awake! :) YAY!! They were able to move him down to another ward. All of the kids with diabetes were on this ward. This is where all of the classes began. Rich got sick at home and so he couldn't come up to the hospital. I was going to have to do this alone. However, my wonderful mom came up and went through the classes with me that day. To say that all of the information was overwhelming is an understatement. There was so much information...hours of classes over the next 3 days! We had to practice drawing up saline into syringes and then administering the shots. Christopher got to practice giving injections on us! I think he liked it! :) Rich got better and then was able to come up to the hospital! :) So, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday were mainly spent in classes. Thursday, I had to completely take care of Christopher and administer all of his shots myself. You have to be able to properly care for your child (on your own) for 24 hours before they let you leave the hospital. We got the good news Thursday night that they were going to try and get us home by Friday evening (the day before Christmas)!! It happened and that was the BEST Christmas present EVER!! :) We got to go home and have Christmas Eve dinner with everyone!
There were so many special moments that happened to me during that week, but there is one that I would like to share!
Once Christopher woke up and we were transferred down to the other ward on Monday, we went to the play room and he picked out a book. Every night when he went to bed I read to him from this book until he fell asleep. The first night, I started to read and he looked over at me and said, "Mom, will come sleep with me?" Yes, you can imagine...the tears started welling up in my eyes. How many 9 yr old boys ask their moms to come get in bed with them? Needless to say, I gladly moved the chair and climbed into bed with him and held him in my arms while I read him to sleep. This special time happened every night we were there. I slept in the bed with him and got to hold my baby all night! What a special blessing! :) One night his nurse came in and with tears in her eyes said, "I have never seen anything so sweet! I love that you sleep with your little boy every night AND that he wants you to!" I LOVED it too!
Now I sit here 4 years later...much more educated about diabetes. I'm no longer afraid on a regular basis. I would love to say that I have had this great epiphany and that I am so thankful for this trial in our lives, but I can't do that! I would be lying if I didn't tell you that this absolutely stinks or that I HATE diabetes!! Diabetes does not only affect the person with the disease, it affects the whole family! I wish that I could take this trial from my son, but I know that I can't. However, I do know that we have a Heavenly Father who loves each of us and is mindful of our situations. I also know that he doesn't give us anything we can't handle. I know that Heavenly Father has a plan for each of us and that through trials, such as these, we are strengthened and he is able to teach us lessons and to help bring us closer to Him!
This Christmas, I am again reminded how thankful I am for my family and to have my WHOLE family here with me this Christmas! I hope that we can each remember not to take our family members/loved ones for granted! Our lives can change in an instant and I know that I don't want to have any regrets!
Christopher has always had a special relationship with Rich's mom (Oma)! She was heartbroken when she got the phone call. She talked with Christopher on the phone and asked him what he wanted. He told her that he wanted some Heeley's (sp?). You know...the shoes with the wheels in the bottom. Needless to say, Oma arranged with Aunt Marci to get those for them (and they were NOT cheap)! How blessed I feel to have such wonderful family! Oma, thank you for lifting his spirits so much during this hard time! That meant so much to him...and to me! It's not even about the shoes, it's about the fact that you did whatever you could (from Idaho) to make my little boy happy and to feel loved during this horrible experience! I love you so much and will be forever thankful to you for that! :0) This was another one of those special things that happened!
Christopher, I want to take this chance to tell you how much I love you! I want you to know that although I do not have diabetes myself, I do realize that this trial is very hard for you! I know that it isn't easy, especially having Dad and I hound you about it, but we do it because we LOVE you more than life itself and we don't want anything to happen to you. I know that is probably hard to remember sometimes, but please try to! We want you to live a LONG, healthy life! I can't imagine my life without you! Please try to keep your chin up and remember how thankful we should be for the technology that you have such as your pump and your CGM!! I pray every day that there will be a cure VERY soon! Until then, let's keep on fighting and kickin' this stupid diseases butt! :) Remember that Heavenly Father is always there for you. When things get tough and you don't want to talk to us...you can go to Him! He knows what you are going through. Your Savior suffered in Gethsemane for all of the pain you will endure in this lifetime too, not only for your sins. Turn your pain and heartache over to the Lord and he will take it from you! :) Your dad and I are here for you whenever you need us too!
I love you Christopher...more than you could ever imagine!
I am married to my teenage sweetheart and my best friend, Richard! We have been married for 20 years and have 6 awesome kids. Brittaney - 19, Christopher - 16, Kehli - 13, Brenden - 10, Katelyn - 9, and Tayler - 5. We love spending time together. Love is a fabulous thing!!