The Ozark Mountains

We just got home from spending some quiet, quality time in the Ozark Mountains. I just had to share the joy I experienced there as I watched Sam participate in some amazing activities and his disease by no means held him back. He rode a giant swing that would take him over a huge drop off. He was fearless! Then he went on multiple hikes through the mountains, jumped in a freezing cold river and even did some rock climbing. I was in awe of his strength, courage and happiness at the opportunity to participate in these activities. I had to admit the river jumping and the rock climbing made us stop and have a couple of discussions because we had no idea if the frigid cold temperatures would affect his blood sugar. We know that adrenaline, stress and excitement do affect him, but cold? We finally decided to allow him to do these things and be a “normal” boy. There were eight adults watching who could assist at any given time. I was a nervous wreck ! Once he hit the shore after jumping, I screamed and jumped around like a crazy lady out of pure relief and excitement that he accomplished it. When he was done, we rushed him back to the cabin to warm up and check his blood sugar. It was 180. Good number! Then when he did the rock climbing, I had to stay back at the cabin. I just could not watch it. Bart said he was amazing and really fast. His blood sugar was once again, great. The one thing we did not think would send him really low was the hiking. I am not sure why we thought that because it is a lot of work. However, all our friends were awesome with him. While hiking he told a friend he was having trouble seeing clearly so they made him sit down and then checked him. He was 29. WOW! Everyone tried not to freak out. His low was treated and then they moved on….. having a great time. The one thing that scared us during this trip was how Sam would go low and seem perfectly fine. He acted fine, making it difficult to tell if he was in trouble. We had to constantly be on guard and ask him how he was doing. This is hard when you are in the midst of new experiences, unfamiliar places and the excitement of so many kiddos. We survived and had an amazing time enjoying God’s creation.

Our Diagnosis Story

Let me introduce myself. My name is Shannon Millard, wife and mother of five beautiful children. My oldest son, Samuel, is a type 1 diabetic. Over the last seven years I have crossed paths with many people who had no idea 1.) what type 1 diabetes was and 2) what is involved in caring for a child with type 1. So I have wanted to do a blog for a long time just allowing people to see inside one families journey with this disease. I pray if you join me on this journey that you will be informed and encouraged.

Our diagnosis story:

Sam was diagnosed November 15th 2004. This was the day our lives changed forever. We had just had our first daughter six weeks early when my mother told me the obvious; something is wrong with Sam. He had been very aggressive, wetting the bed multiple times at night, drinking constantly and sweating profusely. She told me she thought it was diabetes. I became angry, unaware what that really meant and reluctantly agreed to take him to the doctor. The doctor confirmed her fear. Sam’s blood sugar was 847 (normal blood sugar is b/w 80-150 for kids) and we found ourselves at Children’s Hospital for a week. We were very lucky to have him with us. We were devastated to see our firstborn son so sick; helpless parents watching strangers provide and care for our baby. That is very hard for a mommy, especially a new, sleep deprived, emotional mommy!!!!! At the same time I was eternally grateful. My husband Bart and I were a big ball of emotions: devastated yet thankful to have Children’s, helpless yet hopeful, confused yet seeing clearer than before. It is so hard to explain the emotional roller coaster you go on when a doctor looks you in the eye and says, ” there is no cure for your son. He will always have this disease.” How did we survive? Jesus. He carried us when we could not walk another step forward or desire to even start a new day. He provided family and friends to help us learn our “new normal.”. He was our calm it the storm, the healer of our broken hearts, our strength when we had none. Our HOPE!

It took one year for our “new normal” routine to feel comfortable.

We by no means had it together by this time, but we desired to walk forward day by day. Our hopelessness had turned to hope and thankfulness. Having a 2 year old with type 1 diabetes was beyond tough. We checked his blood sugar 6-8 times a day and he had 4-5 shots a day; all of which we had to practically sit on him to give injections. I remember crying as we held him and sometimes had to sit on him because of the fight he would put up. We would tell him we were doing this to make him better and we loved him. True love yet confusing for a sweet, blonde headed two year old who looks at you with huge tears in his eyes. We went to a happy place just to survive; needless to say we learned not to feel anything for a long time.

We had to grieve the loss of of our old life; the spontaneous life we led, the last minute calls from friends to go to dinner or a movie etc. We were slaves to a clock that every two hours demanded something from us. We also had to grieve the loss of our son in that he would never be that carefree child before November 15th. He now had a disease that would require him to grow up a little too fast. This was all part of accepting the situation. After spending so much time at Children’s hospital, we became thankful for diabetes because we saw so much sickness that sometimes resulted in the loss of life. So for diabetes we were thankful. I would say the Lord was doing a work on our hearts. We were seeing a little more clearly. That was the beginning of life with diabetes. As you read this blog, you will see my heart, my frustrations, joy, my fears and even my failures. I am just a mom who wants to share what life with diabetes looks like and the hope we have in Christ through this journey.