Wednesday, August 14, 2013

A Day of Celebration

I usually write something on the anniversary date of Isaac's diabetes diagnosis.  Though I am writing this on his actual diagnosis day, it won't be posted until later because of some photos I will want to add of him at camp that I don't have ready yet.  "Why be so dramatic and sentimental about such an awful day and awful thing?", you might wonder.  There are several reasons for that and several reasons why I am often as reflective on his diagnosis day as I am on my children's birthdays.  I have written on several occasions about some of the agonies surrounding Isaac's diagnosis.  I have despaired over the events that occurred and how sick he had to get before he got the right diagnosis.   You can read some of that story by clicking here if you haven't heard that story already.  Today I don't want to talk about those things, however.  I am going to focus on one of those reasons for reflection:   Today is a day that I am choosing to focus on the celebration!  I celebrate a discovery...  I celebrate people like physician Frederick Banting and his med. student side-kick, Charles Best who discovered the hormone insulin in 1921.
Banting's and Best's laboratory, where insulin was discovered. 
Credits: University of Toronto Archives

Banting, right, and Best, left, with one of the diabetic dogs used in experiments with insulin.
Credits: University of Toronto Archives

I celebrate that there was a young 14 year old boy in 1922 named Leonard Thompson, whose dangerously high blood sugars dropped to near normal levels because of being injected with the "new" substance for the first time.

I celebrate a victory for our Isaac.  
Prior to this great discovery, Isaac's disease would have meant death.  August 9, 2004 forever changed our lives and the life of our son for the challenging in a dramatic way, but the real truth of the matter is that we have had the joy of watching him grow into the young man he is becoming.  This gift was given to us long before we even cared about something called insulin!  Our time with him was prolonged because of the gift of this discovery and the progress that arose from it.  I'm not even beginning to mention some of the advancements that have been made for Isaac to have as normal a life as possible.  

I want to recall that a tiny three-year-old boy who was so frail that we were carrying him around on a pillow, began getting his life back in a matter of hours.  It really was that dramatic!  The evening of his diagnosis day he went from sleeping about 20 hours a day and not eating or speaking to us, to waking and speaking after about 12 hours of a very slow i.v. insulin drip in addition to a potassium and fluid drip.  I'll never forget how we were so happy that we were laughing as he gorged himself with eggs and toast and milk and was STILL hungry by the time he was done.  We hadn't thought to make him pace himself, however, and he ended up vomiting that whole meal.  He was very upset to not get to eat again for a while, but it wasn't long and he was able to do all of that normally.  I cherish, today, the joy of getting to hear him call me "Mommy" again after having that first night of i.v. insulin and fluids.  I thought he was going to die without me ever getting to hear his sweet voice again.  Today I don't only get to hear him, but it won't be long and more of that little boy's voice is going to be replaced by that of a man's!  The last 9 years may have included needles and monitoring and plenty of challenges, but all of these things are beautiful, in their own way.  Today I'm just rejoicing that we get to experience the beautiful gift that is Isaac's life.  

Today we get to watch Isaac graduate from Texas Lions Camp.  We are so proud of him and glad that he got to have a good experience this week.  He got to be around kids his age that deal with the same challenges every day.  One of his influences will have been Dr. Stephen Ponder, one of the most positive people concerning this disease that I have ever met.  He has been the medical director for Texas Lions Camp for 33 years and has been a Type I diabetic for 48 years.  We love getting to hear from him, and already have been so encouraged and learned new things by attending a webinar that he put on this week for parents.  His positive outlook involving education and treatment is literally contagious!  

Dr. Ponder took this one while we were in the check-in line at Texas Lions Camp.  Love it!

Med-staff member writing all of Isaac's settings down

Isaac's bunk.  We got there seconds after someone claimed the last top bunk!
Oh well, he's got his own top-bunk at home!

Good-byes to the little ones.

"Bye, O'ma..."

The next several I did not take, but were taken by Dr. Ponder and other med-staff or Lions Camp staff during the week.  You'll notice the "thumbs-up" theme.  Made me smile every time I saw a new thumb-pose on Facebook!  He knew we'd be watching for pictures, and this is the "I'm doing great" sign that we all appreciated so much.  Sweet boy!

All kids from his bunk-house.  Do you spot the twins?  Isaac said one wore blue and one wore green every day so folks would know which was which!

At the parents' dinner/seminar right before graduation...

Dr. Ponder always wears silly hats!

These next images he posted after telling us that evening about how much things have changed for the better over the years!  I reposted his comments from his page, as well.
This is Dr. Ponder. What a difference 48 years makes. Here is a side by side comparison of a 3/4 inch long 26 gauge needle attached to a U40 insulin syringe (1cc = 40 units). Below is a 5mm 32 gauge (5/32 inch) pen needle attached to a Lilly Luxura pen with a 300 units Humalog cartridge. I started using the upper needle at age 9, but we used metal needles in order to resterilize them by boiling 20-30 minutes each day. After a while those reusable needles got DULL. Nobody ever taught us we could resharpen them. Ouch!
This is Dr. Ponder. To follow up on yesterday's comparison of insulin syringe needle sizes over the years, most of us can't forget the good ole' Autolet: aka "The Guillotine". Not only did it LOOK threatening but it packed a wallop to match. Sample blood sizes for meters in the early days needed to be large hanging drops in order to cover the test pad of the strips. Notice the lancet size: as like syringe needles, we now use 33 gauge lancets with depth settings (mine is set shallow at 2). The Autolet had two different platforms. The yellow one (shown here) allowed for a 2.4 mm depth of penetration. The orange platform allowed for 3.0 mm. It was used for thicker skin like the heel or thumbs. BG checks took longer to do then too. Up to several minutes in the very early days in the late 1970's and early to mid 1980's. 
This is yet another advantage of diabetes technology over the past 35 years. Feel free to share.

The Camp Ceremony :)

 There are two different diabetic camp sessions to choose from.  220 went to this session plus however many medical staff & camp employees there were.  
Red shirts = Campers; Blue shirts = Lions Camp Staff; Green shirts = Medical Staff
 Our boy giving us a wave!
Isaac won an award for "Excellence in Radio" that evening.

 Sweet reunion...

Whitley took Isaac & O'pa out on the canoe in Kerrville 
since they didn't get to go with us the first time...

Isaac's "selfie"that he took...

Proud of this boy!

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