I don’t think that I ever shared the details of Henry’s Type 1 diagnosis. It was a Thursday, Henry said that he felt too sick to go to school (red flag right there), he was pale, had bags under his eyes and now looking back he was quite thin. It’s quite painful now to look at those photos and think, how could I have missed this? The night before he had gotten up to go to the bathroom several times after pizza. I mean like DASHING out of the bed, peeing like a frat boy after a keg stand, over and over again. Two days earlier, I had just lost my birth father to Type 2 complications.
Something wasnt right. His preschool teacher had brought something up a couple of weeks before and we both agreed that something was not right. For about a year before that I kept saying “It’s the weirdest thing, when Henry eats Cheerios and 2% milk he turns into a psycho.” What was happening though is that his blood sugar was slowly going up and up and up. In fact after his diagnosis we gave him low carb cereal and cow milk and his blood sugar level (should be 125-180) went up to 399.
I had given him a bunch of pears that morning 2/7/13 but I could not shake the feeling that something was wrong. So I texted my friend Kim who is an AMAZING ARNP (fancy nurse lady) and told her that I was scared. She told me to come in. We did. We took a blood test (super traumatic), took a urine sample (very bad aim) and sat in the lab room and waited. Typically Kim will stay and talk with me since we love each other. But she was gone, for what seemed like a long time. I started to get nervous. She sent a text telling me she would be right back.
Then she came back. Months later I would start to think to myself, what had Kim felt like? To have to come back and tell your friend that her son had Type 1 Diabetes? Kim knew that my birth father had just died two days ago. If I were Kim I would have like run out of the hospital and never come back or I would have come back into the office sobbing and blubbering making the parent cuddle me. Good thing Im just a designer.
What had taken her so long is that she had taken the time to contact Seattle Children’s Hospital and tell them that she was sending us over. She came back in and told me, we called my sister in Boston who is also a nurse and they spoke medical gibberish (it was gibberish at the time) Ketones, blood sugar etc. Now this gibberish is part of my every day and I try to remember that most people, like me at the time have no idea what I am talking about. I just said “He just had a lot of pears, pears have a lot of sugar.”
But he had Type 1. And when I told him the very little I knew about it he looked at me and asked “Will they give me medicine to grow my legs back?” and I died inside. My birth dad had lost both his legs to poorly managed Type 2 (he was wickedly stubborn). I told him that he would not lose his legs.
But now, a year later…Im speaking in Diabetic code, we are almost perfectly guessing carbs when we dont have a scale. Henry lets us give him insulin with very little fuss and he gets it. His sister just sat on the couch and warmed up his insulin under the blanket so it would not burn him when he got an injection. His great grandpa bought him his Dexcom and his Omnipod as his birthday present. His Aunt Mara (nurse) when she visits gives him injections and helps us. It has taken a village, it has taken a huge support network of parents P.O.K.E.D (Parents of Kids Experiencing Diabetes), his Endo Dr. Taplin and his nurse Cindi Smith. I’ve been pulled out of dark moments by all of these people, my husband etc. Mostly though? You know who has been the light at the end of the tunnel? Henry. Henry Jared Llewoh Jensen. This brave, hilarious, crazy, crazy smart, sweet, loving boy.
“Happy” Anniversary Henry. You have rocked this year. I can’t wait to see all you do as you grow up into a beautiful, talented, hilarious strong boy (with both legs). I love you.
And Kim. Thank you. I know I’ve said it, but thank you. You saved my son’s life. You listened to me, you have been so loving and kind. I am eternally thankful and so very teary thinking about you at this moment. I love you so much I can barely handle it. I will never ever forget what you did for us.
If you have questions about the symptoms of Type 1 Diabetes, check out this link. And if you ever even have the slightest feeling that your child may have Type 1 ask to get them tested and don’t take no for an answer.
These first 3 photos are some that I asked the insanely talented Sara Parsons to take for me during our family photoshoot. Sara, thank you for your support and being someone that I can share my fears with over this past year it has meant a lot.