Ben was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes on the 3rd of August 2004 at the age of 7 months. He had been ill for a few days and was drinking lots. When he began throwing up we took him to our doctor who thought it was just a tummy bug. However the vomiting continued so we sought a second opinion who agreed with the first and told us to go home and give him 7up! Needless to say the next day Ben was much worse and his breathing was very erratic and shallow. We rushed him straight to Casualty where he was diagnosed within a matter of minutes and rushed to I.C.U. He spent a few days there until they got his blood sugar under control and was then transferred to the children's ward.
A week later Ben contracted the Rotavirus from the ward and became extremely ill. He was vomiting and had chronic diarrhoea. His blood sugars were crazy again. He was so little that the doctors had to put an I.V. in his scalp because the veins in his wrists and ankles had collapsed. Eventually he recovered but he had spent 4 weeks in hospital before we finally got to take him home.
At home things were no better. His sugar levels were unpredictable, his injection sites were sore and bruised and his appearance was very gaunt. We were devastated. It was very hard to look at Ben having to go through all this before he had even reached the age of 1. It seemed like a never-ending nightmare ... until we discovered the insulin pump! We live in Ireland and the pump is not common practise here so our doctor hadn't mentioned it to us. But when we heard about it, we thought it could be the answer to our prayers. We asked our doctor and he agreed to put us on the waiting list. We went through weeks of intensive training and used a practice saline pump at home to get used to it. Ben started using a Minimed insulin pump in February 2005. It has completely transformed his life and ours. His blood glucose levels have been excellent and his Hba1c is almost perfect. It was 7.2 as of October 16th '05 which is a dramatic improvement from this time last year. He still has highs and lows but not a fraction of the what he used to have. He has started to tell us when he is low now which is a massive relief. He takes us by the hand to the kitchen and asks for juice!! Anytime he has done this we've checked and he has been low. It's amazing that he can do that now. His attitude has changed too. He is much more outgoing and adventurous. He has a huge appetite and now he can indulge in a wider variety of foods than before which is wonderful. He doesn't mind the pump at all and rarely takes any notice of it. He is a very happy, healthy little boy and we owe it all to the pump. I have no doubt that if Ben wasn't pumping he would still be a very ill, unhappy toddler.
Ben was two years old in December 2005. He is our little hero. As of October 2005 he was the youngest pumper in Ireland.
September 2006 Update
Ben has been diabetic now for over 2 years and pumping for 18 months. He is doing very well. His last Hba1c was 6.6 and he has just started Montessori. He is 2 years and 9 months as I write this.
Life certainly has gotten easier but we still have ups and downs and we continue to learn new things every day.
These days diabetes is still a huge part of our lives but does not consume us.
Ben is still obsessed with trains. (Actually anything with wheels, or wings, or engines…..) ;-)
He also loves swimming and going for walks. (especially on rainy days in his wellies!!!)
He is having a ball at Montessori and has made lots of cute new friends. The staff there has been very helpful and are exceptionally interested and responsible when it comes to checking blood glucose and using the pump. We are very lucky to have found them.
Ben is a wonderful example of the resilience of the human spirit and he inspires me every day.
I am so proud of my wonderful little angel.
Carol O' Neill
carol04 AT eircom.net.
Published October 20, 2005
Updated September 22, 2006
Ben at diagnosis, age 7 months old. He had to have an IV in his scalp. That's why he is wearing this "hat"!
Ben in January 2006 -- happy and healthy
Last Updated: Sunday September 24, 2006 12:03:49
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