Thursday, June 04, 2009

Big Changes

Isaac was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes on Sunday, or what is called type one.  For several days, he had been using the bathroom frequently was always thirsty, had lost about seven or eight pounds, and was having occasional headaches.  Other than that, he didn't show any visible signs of slowing down or being "ill."

We called the Dr, Sunday morning, and after a short conversation she sent us to the ER.  There they ran some tests and diagnosed him, and then said we were going to be transferred to Children’s Hospital in Seattle.  They would not allow us to drive him down there and instead, called in an ambulance to move him.  Once at Children’s we were told we would be spending the next three days there getting Isaac stabilized and us trained to help him.

The next three days were a blurr, both in the amount of information we had to absorb, and the range of shock and emotions we had to face.  We had classes two or three times a day.  On Wednesday afternoon they let us out. Isaac is doing well and adapting quickly to his new life long routine.

So here is the high level view of what we learned:

  • Our bodies run on sugar, or glucose. It is the fuel cells use to keep up their energy. These sugars are produced from carbohydrates we eat, which the digestive system breaks down into sugars.
  • The sugar gets into the cells with the help of insulin. Without the insulin, the sugar cannot get in to the cells, and the cells cannot function.
  • Insulin is produced in the pancreas.
  • With type one diabetes, the immune system decides the pancreas is bad, and starts treating it like a foreign object, and renders it permanently unable to make insulin.  The pancreas will never heal.  
  • The auto-immune disorder is a gentic error of some sort, and they do not know for certain what event triggers it, nor do they have a way to prevent it.  It just happens.
  • As a side note, in type two diabetes, the pancreas still does its job and is producing insulin, but the body becomes resistant to it.
  • Through the ability to do nearly instant blood glucose testing (we got a cool little electronic gizmo) we are able to mimic the pancreas’ normal functions, and then inject the correct amount of insulin based on the current blood glucose, the amount of carbohydrates he is about to eat, and the amount of exercise he is getting. (Yes, there is a fair amount of math involved.)

So the cool thing is this:  Isaac can continue to live and eat just like he always has, he just has to medicate for it.  In the past when kids got diabetes they were medicated, and then had to adjust their lives to match the medicine. Now we are able to go about life, and adjust the medicine to match their lives.

Clearly this will bring about more work in our lives, but Isaac is pretty positive right now, and happy to be back home. He is already settling back in to running and playing with his siblings, and has spent some time in the gym.