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Diabetes: Cooper's story. "My heart broke all over again."

Cooper with his kit.

I will never forget the day our lives changed forever.

It was Friday the 20th May 2011, such a short time ago, yet it feels like a lifetime. Cooper (2) had been ill over Easter but was on the mend, or so we thought. He started wetting more, drinking more and just generally didn’t seem himself.  I took him into the Doctors and explained all that had been happening and stated that I believed Cooper had a UTI or worse Juvenile Diabetes. The Doctor tested his Blood Glucose Levels (BGLs) and they were dangerously high. He confirmed my worst thought and stated that I must take Cooper immediately to hospital.

He spent 5 nights and days there, with my partner Jack and I taking turns to stay with him and being educated on the illness, management, medication and administration. Before we were discharged I needed to collect his medical supplies. It was overwhelming. Boxes and boxes of insulin (3 different types), syringes, BGL tester kit, bgl strips, ketone strips, lancets, alcohol swabs, hypokit and of course jelly beans. Finally off to the council to collect a sharps container. Seriously if I thought I was scared taking him home as a newborn, now I was petrified.

The entire time Cooper had been amazingly brave with all aspects including the finger pricks and needles.  When we returned home it was a whole new kettle of fish. He had left hospital and thought that was the end of it all and here I was bringing out all the gear at home. He was terrified, the real battle had only just begun and my heart broke all over again. Our daily routine now consisted of two injections, one in the morning and one in the evening and eight finger pricks to determine and monitor his BGLs, including one at 2am everyday.

We had to ensure that Cooper ate 15gm serves of carbs 6-8 times a day and in regular intervals.  If he had a sudden drop we would need to raise those levels with sugar and fast.  If he should become unconscious or begin fitting we would need to use his hypokit and call an ambulance, fortunately this has not happened although I’m told it’s inevitable and will occur and more than once.  This was now our life, it was difficult, tiring and you are constantly questioning yourself.  I am not a trained nurse but suddenly I was now drawing up 2 different types of insulin, twice daily and injecting my child. We had been thrown in the deep end and baely knew how to tread water let alone swim.

Day 2 of being at home and severe gastro hits us all for six. Now gastro through the house is challenging at anytime but we were soon to learn just how difficult it becomes when there is a diabetic in the house.  In fact we’ve learned, since his diagnosis, that any illness affects diabetes negatively, increasing the difficulty of management and already unpredictable nature of the disease.  Our once healthy child is now prone to and sought out by any and all little bugs doing the rounds.  Which affects his BGLs alone but also affects his appetite and creates even more chaos with his BGLS, a D child without an appetite is a nightmare!

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If Cooper’s numbers are too low or too high we must make adjustments to his medication and doses, fortunately you can gain advice and guidance from your diabetic educators, but they are not always accessible and an educated decision must be made by us.  Lows in the middle of the night are terrible, you must get them up with sugars and follow through with carbs.  Not an easy task with a grumpy, half asleep 2yr old also sporting the symptoms of a hypo.  Sick days are even worse as BGLs are so unpredictable and must be checked hourly, yep hourly. An increase of needle is also often required.  It’s draining, exhausting and challenging but its necessary to ensure our sons survival. Our little trooper never ceases to amaze us though, he accepts that he must have the finger pricks and injections and is incredibly brave.

He can tell you that he has diabetes, needs BGL checks and insulin and can tell you the type of insulin he has.  He is also beginning to become hypo aware and starting to recognise the feelings associated with this, some children are unable to identify these increasing the difficulty of management. Every night I put him to bed and pray he will still be alive at 2am and repeat that prayer then in the hope that he will have survived until the morning and everyday we pray for a cure.

This year we will be participating in the Walk for a Cure for Diabetes through the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) in the hope of raising much needed funds to make our dream come true.  Please take the time to look at Coopers fundraising page and if willing and able, make a donation. All donations big and small will help and be greatly appreciated.

Together we can make a difference. We will never stop fighting for our son’s survival, health, recognition and understanding of diabetes in society but most importantly we will never stop fighting for a cure! Thank-you for taking the time to hear
our story, Cooper, Shannon, Jack and Charlie.

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