August 2007, we were like so many other families. Happily married, 1 little boy whose 2nd birthday we had just celebrated and another baby on the way. Many nights were spent talking about how things would change once the new baby came. We talked about things everyone does: how would we maintain our older sons routines once the baby arrives; was it a boy or a girl; what would we choose as his/her name, how would we manage our “alone time” when we had 2 little ones to care for. We knew changes were coming and were ready to embrace our “New Normal”.
Early September 2007, Ethan, our 2 year old, began to display some concerning symptoms. A visit to his pediatrician led to a urine test that that led to a blood test that showed a blood sugar level of 26mol. (FYI: normal blood sugar levels for adults and children should be between 4-8).
September 18, 2007 mid-afternoon, we were told that our 2 year old son Ethan had Type 1 Diabetes and would be insulin-dependent for the rest of his life.
My husband and I (and my very pregnant belly) spent the better part of that day at the Montreal Childrens Hospital listening to what had quickly become “OUR pediatric endocrinology team,” speaking to us in what sounded like the adults in the Peanuts cartoons.
As they say in Survivor, this was the ultimate blind side! To say we were bombarded with information, rules, and tasks is putting it mildly. We left the hospital with a “laundry list” of prescriptions that we needed to get now. There is no processing time with Diabetes. Interventions to keep blood sugars at bay begin now. We didn’t have the luxury (what a strange word to use I know) to go home & wrap our brains around the information we were given. We had to start blood tests now, at every meal. Filling in food charts to start understanding how to count carbs too (Carb counting??I thought people only counted calories??) . We had to do what we were told and trust that understanding and knowledge would follow. We had 3 consecutive days of learning sessions set up with “OUR” pediatric nurse and dietician to help us understand Diabetes, understand our “new” day to day….to being to create our “New Normal”
How do you explain to a 2 year old why yesterday it didn’t matter but today what and when he eats is suddenly so important; or why his fingers are poked until they bled or why he is given multiple daily injections when you don’t understand it yourself.
In our surreal cloud, my husband and I did know this: we had to put our anger, sadness and confusion aside and master what needed to be done. At that moment, our priority was Ethan. Thankfully our other baby was safe in my belly which allowed us to put all our energy into learning. We agreed that our “new normal” would not look that those of our friends and that saddened us. However, we promised each other that we would navigate this twist in the road and arrive at our “new normal” whatever that may look like. On Nov 15th 2007, almost 2 months after receiving this diagnosis, our 2nd son, Jesse, was born. And yes, we were still figuring out our “new normal”.
Here is what I can tell you……our main goal was to ensure Ethan was safe, healthy and eventually independent, but both Corey and I knew that our “new normal” could not be one that revolved solely around Diabetes. We had to ensure that Ethans self-esteem was not compromised. We had to find that balance between the importance of his routines & understanding and making sure he did not define himself by Diabetes. For Jesse, his life could not be about his brothers diabetes and his parents need to monitor sugars daily.
So its 8 years and many learning moments, many tears and countless milestones later for all of us. With support from friends, family and “OUR AMAZING pediatric endocrinology team” everything that was so scary in 2007 is now “normal”. Meals, snacks, Halloween, birthday parties, etc no longer worrisome – “normal”; Ethan does his own blood tests and adjustments if needed – “normal”….Ethan goes to friends house without Mommy tagging along…”normal”….he plays house league competitive soccer and hockey….”normal”… sleep away/day camp…”normal”. Jesse understands why Ethan needs to do what he does but he knows that it just A PART of our lives….”normal”.
So our “New Normal” took a little more time, work, patience and creativity to master, but we are here just the same.
Surprisingly, our “normal” looks a lot like those of our friends….after all, we are a happy busy family with 2 active boys who keep us on our toes…like many of our friends.
About the author-
My name is Ronna Sinclair-Adler. I am happily married to a great guy who is my best friend and an awesome dedicated dad. We have 2 amazing sons, Ethan(10) and Jesse (7). For the last 22 years, I have worked as an educator with special needs children and teens. We like to live healthy and stay active and encourage our boys to do the same.