Welcome to our first Friday feature!
Feature Friday: Catherine and JJ’s Story
Thank you for coming to read this story, I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. I think many will appreciate Catherine’s honesty and her realistic approach to her child’s diabetes! Catherine is the mother of JJ who is a type 1 diabetic. She was one of the first people I met after opening up my Instagram account. She welcomed me into the diabetic community and has been nothing but sweet and helpful ever since! I learned that she is not only an amazing advocate for her son but she is also the mother of four children, an elementary school teacher, a business woman, a wife, a friend, and an inspiration to all! Enjoy reading…
In May of 2015, I was 8 months pregnant with my daughter, Cate, and my twin boys, JJ and Drew, had just turned 3 in April. My husband and I started to notice little things with JJ that were different than Drew, like he was peeing through his pullup both at night and during their daytime naps… and not just a little bit of urine – he was soaked! The amount he was urinating each time he went and the frequency in which he was going progressed pretty quickly over a couple of weeks. We suspected something was going on, including diabetes, but we were somewhat in denial at this point. I am an elementary teacher and I have a fellow teacher and friend I work with that has a daughter with T1D, so one morning I went in and asked her how she knew her daughter had T1D.
Another thing I should mention at this point is that I had gestational diabetes that required me to take insulin shots with all my pregnancies, so we were familiar with diabetes and JJ and Drew observed me pricking my finger to check my blood sugar and give myself a shot of insulin before each meal. Therefore, my friend told me to use my meter to prick JJ’s finger and check his blood sugar. I thought to myself, “Why didn’t I think of that?!” I immediately called my mom because she was home watching JJ and Drew while I was teaching and I asked her to bring the boys to school so I could prick JJ’s finger. My motherly instinct was telling me I couldn’t wait until after school to do it. My mom brought him to school and I pricked JJ’s finger and his blood sugar was 564! I was shocked and not shocked, all at the same time, because I think I already knew, but his blood sugar level was confirmation. I immediately called JJ’s pediatrician who instructed me to rush him down to the emergency room at Rady Children’s Hospital here in San Diego, CA. From there, he was officially diagnosed and he stayed in the hospital for 5 days. One blessing disguise was my gestational diabetes because JJ had no trouble taking shots of insulin from the start because he had been observing me doing it for months before his diagnosis.
Initial thoughts after diagnosis:
My initial feelings around JJ’s diagnosis were sadness and a sense of loss/grief. As a parent, you do everything in your power to keep your child healthy and safe, but when they are diagnosed with a disease that is totally out of your control, it’s a lot to take in. I felt so sad that JJ had “lost” the life he knew before his diagnosis and that he was going to have to carry this burden forever. Being 8 months pregnant didn’t help with my emotions either, lol!
This really isn’t so much as a trick, per se, but JJ is one of 4 kids and so we have made sure that all the kids are on the same eating schedule. We don’t let the kids just go into the pantry or fridge and eat snacks all day because we would be giving JJ insulin constantly. We have somewhat of a set eating schedule for the kids – breakfast, snack, lunch, lunch treat, snack, dinner – and once they’re done with dinner, there’s no more eating for the night. Obviously, there are exceptions, but having this schedule has helped my husband and me manage JJ’s diabetes a bit better. Also, we never deprive JJ of any food that the other kids are having, even if his blood sugars are high. He just may have to wait a little bit for his blood sugars to come down beforehand he eats something with a lot of carbs. All in all, we try to normalize his diabetes as best we can.
The meaning of “thrive” to me:
My definition of “thriving” is that it’s a word to describe a person who is living their best life and taking full advantage of the gifts that have been given to them, no matter what physical, emotional, or mental handicaps they may have. They see life as full of opportunities for the taking and are grateful for all the things they’ve been given. For example, JJ is thriving just as much as my other 3 kids and does everything any other typical 8 year old boy does, even though his pancreas is “broken.”
What helps JJ Thrive:
I think what helps JJ thrive is that we have never treated him any differently than we have our other children. We talk to him frequently, along with all of our kids, about how lucky we are to be healthy and have all the things we have in our life. We acknowledge the fact that having diabetes sucks, but things could be a lot worse. Lastly, we always point out other thriving diabetics, such as a kid contestant on the Food Network with T1D, NFL players with T1D, and other famous people with T1D.
What do I wish someone would have told me earlier?
Honestly, the first thing that comes to mind is I wish someone would have been up front with us and told us that we would really never have a full night’s sleep again, lol! I guess they don’t do it because that would seem a bit daunting, but I remember thinking right after his diagnosis that we would be able to sleep again through the night in a couple of months once things got “adjusted.” HAHA… I was so naive thinking back on that now. Even though I know emotions are high right after diagnosis, I just wish someone would have been more upfront about certain life changes that were going to occur.
Words of Encouragement:
To those of you who have been newly diagnosed or have a child that is newly diagnosed, take time to breath and give yourself grace that you aren’t going to be perfect with dosing and blood sugar levels. Just like everything else in life, know that it’s going to take time to adjust to these new changes in your life and you will eventually get into the habit and routine of things. Lastly, it’s okay to be sad and angry and feel all the things you are feeling, but know that you are going to come out on the other side a stronger person and you will be okay. The community of T1D’s is filled with amazing people who are strong, supportive, and encouraging, so lean on us if and when you need to!
If you are interested in learning more about this featured family you can find them on Instagram. I’ll leave their handle down below ♡