Diabetes: My Story

If I’m being honest, I didn’t know November was National Diabetes Awareness Month until Texarkana Magazine asked me to write about our experience with the disease. To my family and me, Type 1 diabetes (T1D) is a part of our everyday life, so we don’t think about one particular month to be aware of it. We’re always aware of it. 

Prior to March 14, 2022, I wasn’t always aware of T1D. I saw Ali Deal post a few times about her experience with her son, but I never thought her experience would apply to my child. My dad has Type 2 diabetes, but I didn’t know much about it or the differences between type 1 and 2 until it was our time to fight the battle. 

My son, Charlie, was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at the age of four. By the grace of God, he was in the care of Gwen Stevens at Clark Weekday in downtown Texarkana. One Thursday, Mrs. Gwen mentioned to me she was worried about Charlie. She said, “It may not be anything, but I’ve been watching Charlie over the last two weeks. He is drinking a lot of water and urinating frequently.” Mrs. Gwen has Type 2 diabetes, so she was aware of the symptoms. I asked her to document what was happening the next day. On Friday, he had gone to the bathroom at least 13 times before 2:00 PM. I immediately got on the phone with Dr. King’s office in Ashdown that afternoon. We saw Dr. King on Monday and were sent straight to Arkansas Children’s Hospital. I’ll never forget the look in the nurse’s eyes when she took his blood sugar, and it read over 400. 

As soon as I got in the car, I knew the first person I wanted to talk to. I remembered my “Christmas Cousin,” Summer, who worked at Arkansas Children’s Hospital and was a Type 1 diabetic herself. Again, by the grace of God, more people were placed into our lives. Summer was the calm to our storm. She walked us through the tough times, was there for Charlie’s first Dexcom application, and is still riding this road with us. We wouldn’t be sane without Summer and the team at Arkansas Children’s. 

I’ll never forget what it was like bringing Charlie home from the hospital. It was like bringing home a newborn baby, but we had a manual this time! We had tons of resources and training, but nothing truly prepares you for that first “low,” the first solo insulin shot, or the first time calculating carbs from a sandwich he wouldn’t eat the crust off of. 

One night, within the first few weeks of having him home, I couldn’t tell if I had given insulin to Charlie or not. With how the injection pen works, sometimes it’s hard to know if you clicked down. This was my breaking point. I was terrified. Did I give him insulin or none at all? Will he go high because I didn’t give him anything? Will he bottom out if I try again? It was just too much. I called Ali and Cody and cried uncontrollable tears on my closet floor. Their sound advice and “you got this” speech got me through my hardest night so far. Praise the Lord for the kind people in this world. 

I’ve talked about my experience with this disease, but Charlie is the real hero of the story. He fights this battle every single minute of the day. And he does it well. He very rarely gets upset about diabetes and the tribulations it brings. He doesn’t get to spend the night at just anyone’s house. He doesn’t get to eat all the Halloween candy. He has sticky spots and irritated skin from the devices he has to wear. He must carry two phones at a time. He and Nurse Ashley at school are best buds… and the list goes on. Every once in a while, he’ll say, “I wish I never had diabetes.” Nothing can prepare your momma heart for those words. 

What I’m most proud of in Charlie is his get-up-and-try-again attitude. He doesn’t let this disease get him down. He rides a bike and motorcycle with the best of them, plays hard in baseball, loves to run at recess, learned how to swim this summer, and loves to hunt and fish with his dad and Papaw. At the heart of it all, he’s just a little boy with a big imagination ready to take on the world.  

I may not have been “aware” of November being Diabetes Awareness Month, but I was aware of diabetes because of people sharing their stories. I share our story today in hopes it will help someone trying to find answers like we were. Diabetes is an ongoing battle for our family and our friends. We work together to keep Charlie happy and give him the best life any six-year-old could dream of. Thankfully, he lives a healthy life because of the people surrounding him. Now, if anyone could make his dreams come true about a jetpack for Christmas, that would be the icing on the cake! 

JDRF Resource HERE.

Local Resource for parents HERE.


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