I don’t remember much about the hospital. It’s mostly a blur. I don’t even remember how many days we were there. I remember Will (my husband) going to classes and exams and me taking my 7 week old daughter on the lengthy bus ride home every night and returning early every morning to be with Jordan during the day.
I remember it was May 9th, 2012 that we first went there. I remember we had to stay over a weekend. I could probably check a calendar and figure out how long we were there… but what’s the point?
I remember feeling very overwhelmed, not fully understanding what I was being told. I remember feeling alone, my husband seemed to have it way more together than I did, possibly due to the fact that he was in the middle of nursing school and knew more than I did about diabetes.
I remember people. Doctors, nurses, dietitians, lab techs. Coming in and doing blood tests, writing in charts, giving Jordan injections and expecting me to learn to do this all on my own in a matter of days. They were teaching me how to give my 3 year old son injections multiple times a day.
I remember having to practice checking my own blood sugar (so I knew how it felt for Jordan) and being scared to even lance my fingertip. It was unpleasant. I wouldn’t say it hurt, but I didn’t want to have to do that to my little boy.
Then there was practicing giving each other injections (of saline, not insulin). All the things the doctors and nurses were doing for Jordan were going to be up to us when we took him home. Five insulin shots a day. He got really good about it, barely ever complaining, but I knew how it felt. He was very brave.
I remember the other little boy in Jordan’s room. He was just diagnosed with diabetes too. He had not been as lucky as Jordan. Jordan’s symptoms were caught early and his doctor listened when we brought him in. The other little boy was much more sick. His parents brought him to their doctor a week earlier asking for a diabetes test. Although the test is a simple “pee on a stick” test, the doctor shuffled them out without doing it, telling them they were worried over nothing.
Well, it wasn’t nothing. He got more sick and tired and started throwing up. By the time they finally got him diagnosed he needed an IV and had developed ketoacidosis (when the body cannot process sugar for energy it instead breaks down fat and muscle, causing the blood to become acidic). Untreated, this is what people with type 1 diabetes will die from. It was heartbreaking and horrifying to see another little one who was so sick with the same disease my son now had.
There was a toy room. Jordan really liked it in there. We went there when we had to talk to the hospital staff. We discussed what foods were high in carbohydrates, different types of insulin, different things that affect blood sugar levels and so on. We were given pamphlets and binders with all sorts of information.
Jordan was in good spirits most of the time. Chatting with the nurses and wanting to go to the play room constantly. He still has a little plastic toy horse that he got from the ER, he named it “hippo-bee” (no idea why, 3 year olds!) I couldn’t get over how he was taking everything in stride. He got used to getting his finger poked and started offering one in the air when he saw the nurse coming to check his blood sugar.
I had to learn about carbohydrates and insulin. I learned different people need different amounts of insulin. If your blood sugar is too high, a certain amount will bring it back to “normal” range. If you are eating, there is a ratio between the amount of carbs being eaten and the amount of insulin required. And, there is a very small amount of insulin that needs to work in the body constantly.
Because of this, Jordan had to eat a specific amount of carbohydrates for each meal. He ate the same amount so that the doctors could adjust the insulin until it was right for Jordan. It’s a huge guessing game. They start with a low amount and adjust with each meal and snack. Which brings us to the main thing I remember about our hospital stay.
The doctors recommended a snack before bed each night so his blood sugar would be less likely to drop overnight. We didn’t usually do this at home but it was helpful at the hospital so we did it. One evening, Will was at class and Jordan’s bedtime snack came. By this time I was checking Jordan’s blood sugar myself (not very confidently). It was quite high this particular time (18 or so, when it should be 7).
Now, I knew enough that he probably shouldn’t eat when his blood sugar was already that high and we weren’t giving an insulin injection. But I wasn’t confident enough, so I went to the nurses station to double check.
I found a nurse and told her that his blood sugar was already quite high and I asked her if I should skip giving him the evening snack. Her response was, “you don’t want to starve your child do you?” in quite a nasty tone. Stunned, I went back to Jordan’s room. He had fallen asleep while I was out of the room. Alone with an infant and a toddler newly diagnosed with diabetes, I felt small and vulnerable. I felt stupid for asking the question.
Another nurse came by and noticed me. I suppose I looked upset because she asked if I was ok. I told her what had happened. She said some nice words that I can’t remember and went on to whatever she was doing.
After 3 and a half years of hospital visits and diabetes, I would not let someone get away with saying something like that to me now. But then, in that moment, I was so confused and overwhelmed and tired and I was just looking for some support, some reassurance.
That’s what I think of when I try to remember Jordan’s hospital stay. I remember the mean nurse and the sick little boy in Jordan’s room. And honestly, I’m very grateful that that was the worst part.