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« The Taco Bell Guy, The Mountain Goat, and A Birthday | Main | Book Review! (Catch-up post to follow soon.) »


Many of you know that our oldest son, Parke (14), has type 1 diabetes. He was diagnosed when he was five-years-old. Our middle son, Duke, entered a clinical trial six years ago after a blood test revealed the presence of autoantibodies that were predictive of the development of type 1.

Duke has willingly participated in semi-annual monitoring, collected $50 from the TrialNet research fund, and surprised a doctor or two by remaining diabetes-free, while other kids sadly had to leave the study upon diagnosis. A few high blood sugars over the years alarmed us. This is it. Diabetes is here. Duke's numbers would resolve and a happy holding pattern resumed.

Call me naive, but I believed Duke was a pancreatic anomaly. They call it practicing medicine for a reason, I snickered to myself. He's been in the study longer than any other child; predictive autoantibodies are not a disease.

On Monday, August 27th, Duke was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.

It goes without saying that we're sad, and it also goes without saying that worse things could happen. Duke has watched a brother live with type 1 diabetes for almost ten years. Observing a medical routine, even with a backstage pass, is different than having the disease yourself. Duke's drinking through a fire hose as he learns how to carb count, what the difference is between Lantus and Novolog, how the timing of each drug works, and...how to give himself injections.

A nurse we hadn't worked with prior was educating Duke on Monday. Because Chris and I are experienced parents of a diabetic child, we were able to avoid a hospital stay and manage insulin dose tweaking at home. But Duke needed to begin learning about his self-care immediately. Although he didn't feel great, he felt well enough to plow through a lot of information that day, knowing he'd have to return later in the week.

The last lesson of our very long day was how to inject. The nurse gave Duke a handbook, Diabetes Basics for Kids, Teens, Parents, Families--Things you need to know and do in the first few days after a diagnosis. She turned to page 20, a section titled How to use an insulin pen.

That boy in the book is Duke's brother, Parke. Four years ago Parke modeled for some educational materials. I'd forgotten. So had Duke. We all had.

We got through the lesson. Even the nurse was moved and cried.

I gave Duke his shots for the first few days--seven a day for those who are curious. I don't share that to be dramatic. Some people are simply curious.

August 30th, Duke and I returned to the Primary Children's Diabetes Clinic where he successfully gave himself his first shot. He's got over half a dozen under his belt as of this writing. Literally.

August 30th is also Duke's birthday. He turned turned 13-years-old.

We had a small family celebration for Duke. He requested a Baskin-Robbins Oreo Cookie Ice Cream Cake and enjoyed a huge piece. He then had an insulin reaction and was able to drink some of the Mexican Coca-Cola he asked for and received as a birthday gift...long story.

Duke is hanging tough. He brushes against sadness; his father and I brush against worry. But for the most part, tenacity, gratitude for life's good and healthy parts, and the desire to move forward in a strong and positive way...are the attributes we're embracing.

And? If someone would have told me 20 years ago that I'd be the mother of TWO teenage boys someday...I would have laughed. I was supposed to have girls.

Reader Comments (10)

Now I'm a little teary...sending good thoughts and well wishes your way.

August 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTristan

Way to go, Duke! You are a brave kid. Your teenage years are going to be great. Happy Birthday! That's pretty amazing that your brother was the one in the brochure.

August 31, 2012 | Unregistered Commenteranna see

Chrisy, you are one amazing woman. I know, you are only doing what every other mom would do, keep walking. Lived it. But only a few of us are given the opportunity to find out what we are really made of. Boys are easier, I swear..... I send lots of love to you all. xoxoxo

August 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPam

7 injections. Holy cow. Claire has the T1 gene and has been in a study since birth. Fingers are crossed. You're strong and an inspiration. So are your boys.

September 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAlll adither

Chrissy, thank you for sharing this. You are so realistic but positive. I live having a glimpse into what the diagnosis is meaning to your family and to Duke, in particular.

September 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSusan

This post has me thinking lots of things this morning - not the least of which is that I have to do a better job with my own 10 yr. old son when it comes to educating him that food is equal parts "fuel" and "medicine" to our bodies. So, it's not so much "good v bad" - and the resulting noise around obesity and inactivity that we are all exposed to. I think all of our kids need to learn how to get more sensitive to how they feel after they eat certain things, and how to use food wisely.

I know you and I had many conversations about how critical my nutritionist was to me when I was dealing with cancer. I had my protein plan. I had my iron plan. And yet as soon as I was in remission, my old habits started creeping back in. I was less aware and drawn back into the "duh" lull of occasionally counting calories and other (mostly) useless and inaccurate ways of monitoring my health.

In so many ways your boys have a true advantage over their peers.

I don't know Sister, I'm thinking we are looking at your next book. Seriously.

Much love,

September 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAshley

Can't. Stop. Crying. But I know in my heart of hearts, that you have the strength to succeed through this. And when you don't, we'll be strong enough for you.

Much love and well wishes from the Pacific.

September 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPum'kin

So disappointing... But what strong independent boys you have! They are taking frustrating personal challenges and building valuable life skills. They really can do anything! Can't wait to read about the men they become... You must be so, so proud.

September 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKate Coveny Hood

I congratulate your family for their positive attitude and educational spirit. Think how many kids have read this brochure and watched Parke demonstrated the pen and thought, “If he can do it, so can I!” We don’t get to pick the challenges we are dealt, we only get to choose our attitude on how we will deal with it. It sounds like your family, and especially Duke, will do just fine. :)
Sending Love from Indiana

September 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCathy Spieth

My younger son's BF was just diagnosed with Type 1. Would that he had been in a family like yours to handle the initial diagnosis/crisis with such aplomb.

September 9, 2012 | Unregistered Commentersarah piazza

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