Back to Parents' Voices A Mother's Story
by Laurie Tierney

You have just been given the news your child is diabetic. You feel like your world is falling apart. You have a million questions going through your mind. The biggest one is, Why my child? Nobody can answer that question because nobody knows. It's nothing you did or didn't do. There is nothing you could have done to prevent your child from developing diabetes. You are being told a million things that you need to know so that you can take care of your child. You ask yourself, How am I ever going to remember everything? You ask yourself, How will you ever going to be able to take care of a diabetic child? You think, My God, they want me to do what? They want me to give my child a shot! I'm not a doctor or a nurse and they want me to give my child a shot! You think, I'll just leave him at the hospital with those trained to take care of diabetic kids. You know that if you bring this diabetic child home you will kill them. You will mess up so bad, you are going to forget something important and Bang! your child will be dead. Then you decide, Okay, I can't leave him in the hospital; after all, this is your child. You will take him home. Things will be fine everyone tells you that so there must be some truth to it.

They tell you your child will be going back to school. Your first thought is, No way! This child is never going to leave my sight again, even to go to school. They insist your child will be going to school. They tell you the teacher, the nurse and anyone else coming in contact with your child will be trained if they don't know already. The doctor gives you books and papers to help you teach others to care for your child.

The big day arrives. Your child is being released. You have all your supplies. You have all kinds of books and information. You have your child. The doctor and nurse educator have assured you everything will be fine. They remind you that they are only one phone call away. You step through the door of the hospital. Panic sets in. Oh no, this must be a joke. They don't really expect you to take this child home. You want to go back! How will you ever be able to do this? You take the next step you get into the car and start driving home. You ask your child, Are you OK? Thank goodness you made it out of the hospital parking lot. You make it home. Home sweet home! You only asked your child a million times if he was OK. The ride seemed endless. But, you are home and your child is still alive.

It's meal time now. You read every label in the house you decide what to feed your child. It only took an hour. You have your child check his blood and take his shot. You make it through the meal. Your child is still alive. You think, Yes, maybe I can really do this. All goes well. Bedtime has come and gone. Your child is sleeping. You are wide awake! You are thinking about everything you have been taught. You go over everything you did since coming home. Did I give him the right amount of insulin? What about food--was it enough or too much? You get up and check his level. The level is fine. You go back to bed and try to sleep until something else pops into your mind. Then it's up and check the level again. He is sleeping soundly but, you are still awake!

Morning arrives and the kid is still alive! You are dead tired, but you both survived! You make it through another meal and another. Things are getting easier. You only got up three times the second night. Only two the third and last night you slept through the night, except for that noise you thought you heard in your child's room. Must have dreamed it! Goodness, you are running out of food in the house. You need to go grocery shopping. Many hours later you return home. What used to take one hour now takes you three. You now have read every label in the store. You sing praises to those manufacturers that have the diabetic exchanges written right on the boxes. You see letters and numbers flying through your mind. But, this too gets easier.

The big day arrives your child is going to school. You have prepared everyone. You tell your family and friends, Do not call! You need to keep the phone line open in case the school tries to call. You sit, you stand and you pace waiting for that fateful call. The phone rings--your heart stops-- you run to answer it. Ooops! Wrong number. You hang up after giving the person on the other end a piece of your mind. The nerve of someone calling your house on your child's first day back to school! You call the school to make sure they were not trying to call you. They assure you everything is fine. You go back to what you were doing. You try to stay busy. A while goes by and you think, Maybe I didn't hang the phone up right or maybe the phone isn't working. You pick it up and it's fine. You call the school because you never know, they might have been trying to get in touch with you while you were checking the phone. They assure you everything is fine. Anytime the phone rings, your heart skips a beat or two. Everytime after you hang up you call the school. Everytime they assure you everything is fine. The last few times they seem a little aggravated with you. You can't imagine why--only ten calls in one day! Your child comes home. He had a wonderful day. He is happy to be back in school and with his friends. The days go by and you make fewer phone calls to the school. Your heart still skips a beat when the phone rings. But, you both survive and your child is still alive! You have days of high and low levels. You even have days of great levels. You and the diabetic team adjust insulin. With each day that goes by, things get a little easier.

You go for a doctor's appointment and the suggestion is made to send your child to diabetic camp. You say, No way. I sent him to school. What more do you want from me? Your child says, Yes! You finally decide to send him to camp. You make all the arrangements, you pack his duffle bag, making sure everything is marked properly. The day arrives you take him to camp. You meet the doctors and nurses that will be caring for your child. You are shown the grounds of the camp. You get your child unpacked and settled into his cabin. They meet his cabin mates. Your child seems to be chomping at the bit for you to leave. You check one more time to make sure he have everything. You check again with the camp staff. They assure you everything will be fine. They haven't lost a camper yet! You say good-bye and he runs off to play with his new friends. You drive away with tears in your eyes and a heavy heart. All the way home you try to convince yourself he will be fine. You really don't believe it but, how else are you going to survive the next week? You get home and try to relax. You find yourself at different times going to call him to check his blood or to take a shot. Then you remember he is not there. He are at camp! You wonder if he likes the food, is he lonely, is he having fun? There is an emptiness in your heart and in your home. You call the camp. They assure you your child is fine and is having fun. You get a letter from your child. Brief but, he sounds like he are having a great time. The days go by and you keep checking with the camp and they say everything is fine. You relax a little. You even go out and have a good time. You feel guilt. You are getting a vacation from diabetes. Your child isn't and never will. The day comes and it is time to pick your child up. He had a great time, he doesn't want to leave. He can't wait till next year. He wants to go for two or three weeks next year. You are relieved, he had a great time and made new friends. He was not the only one around with diabetes. As the year passes by, every now and then your child mentions something about camp. Maybe he has a camp penpal. In the spring you receive the information on the upcoming summer camp sessions. You see that sparkle in your child's eyes. You know then you did right by allowing him to go and, yes, he will be going back. You still worry but, you let him go.

I know this for fact. I am the mom of two diabetic boys. Ryan, 12, was diagnosed on January 5, 1995 at the age of nine. Patrick, 16, was diagnosed on November 20, 1996 at the age of 15. It has been a long rollercoaster ride for me. I have found emotions and strength I never knew I had. My boys are still very much alive in spite of the fact I was sure I would kill them. I have dealt with them not wanting to test or to take a shot. We have learned a whole new lifestyle and a new language. I very rarely call the school anymore to check on the boys. But every now and then a feeling comes over me and I will call. We have recently dealt with our first sick day and survived.

I often look back and wonder how I ever survived those first few days after Ryan was diagnosed. How I ever survived the first few days of school and Ryan's first summer at camp. I can now laugh at myself for the things I did those first few days and weeks. I have a few more gray hairs than I did before diabetes came into our lives but, we are a happy healthy family. I thank the wonderful people at the diabetes center and the people I have meet on-line for helping me survive the past years. Most of all I thank Randy, my live-in boyfriend. Without his love and support I know I would not have made it.

Just remember, you are human and you do make mistakes. I sure did! Over and under feeding my boys. I've messed up giving shots but, in spite of it all, they are still alive and well. They are both looking forward to summer and going to camp!

Feel free to contact me at:

Laurie Tierney
RR 1 Box 437
Island Falls, ME 04747 or

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Last Updated: Wednesday March 16, 2005 16:45:00
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