Updated: Feb 17
My son is a superhero, and this is his origin story.
It is the third day of diabetes awareness month, and it has been 1,512 days since my son's Type 1 Diabetes diagnosis. I’m going to share his story here — this is the experience that my children’s book, T1D SUPERHERO (get it here), is based on. I just made some of the details less scary for the kids. That being said... I want to add a TRIGGER WARNING for the story and the photos. The photos are shared with his permission. On September 12, 2017, in the wee hours of the morning while it was still dark out, Luka was more sick than I had ever seen him. After days of seeming like he had been developing the flu, he had been sick all night — vomiting aggressively and screaming in pain between the bouts of sickness. By the morning, I was so scared, and I thought he had appendicitis. I bundled him into the car, and off we went to the emergency room.
As soon as we got there, the nurse knew exactly what was wrong. His name was Tony; I’ll never forget him. Hey, Tony, if you're reading this... you're one of the people I dedicated my book to, and I'm eternally grateful.
“We need to check his blood sugar.”
I thought to myself, “What, why?? Check his appendix!”
But no, his blood sugar was 467. I know others have had it higher at diagnosis but that's still a very high number, and Luka was spiraling.
The normal fasting blood glucose range for a non-diabetic is about 70-100. My child had Type 1 Diabetes, and he was in DKA (diabetic ketoacidosis), which is in an incredibly serious emergency situation.
They were not equipped at this specific hospital to handle a pediatric diabetic emergency, and they had to MedEvac him (by ambulance since no helicopters were available at the time) to the local UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh. While we waited for the ambulance to get there, Luka just got worse. He was screaming for water. He was no longer fully aware despite being awake. They tried to get IVs in him, but due to his dehydration, it took almost eight tries and three different people to get one in just to get him some fluids.
Once we were at Children’s Hospital, it was a flurry of activity. There were so many people caring for my son. He spent a day in the PICU (pediatric intensive care unit) then the rest of the week admitted on “the diabetes floor.” It took almost 24 hours to get him stabilized enough to eat and try to get his first actual shot of insulin.
I had been told that I was just in time… he was in a deadly situation, and yes, we could have lost him. I’m so glad I took him to the hospital when I did. Knowing what I know now, especially.
Our experience and my lack of knowledge regarding diabetes prior to his diagnosis is the driving factor for why I wrote my children’s book about his experience. I want to raise awareness about the symptoms, and the more parents, kids, and teachers that know enough to recognize T1D, the more kids will be spared from having to be in such a serious emergency situation like DKA.
Thanks for reading, and I hope you know I appreciate you for following along during diabetes awareness month!