When a caregiver of a child with Type 1 diabetes gets sick, the first and foremost thought is who will take care of the child with Type 1, the health of the caregiver follows a close behind.
For a few weeks now, I have been having heart palpitations. No big deal, but I wanted to get them checked out by a cardiologist. I made the appointment, and the earliest appointment was two weeks from the day I called. Again, no big deal. I was told once that I had Mitral Valve Prolapse and palpitations may be a side effect of the MVP.
Fast forward to the night before my scheduled cardiologist appointment. I was cooking dinner, nothing very exciting, I cook every night, and my left arm went numb. Now normally, I am not a worrier or a hypochondriac, but this scared me. I knew that I had been having the heart palpitations, so the numbness in the arm coupled with the palpitations really got me concerned.
But what really was disturbing me was the thought of who was going to help take care of my son if I went to the ER. ER waits are sometimes very long and no one had ever stayed with my son longer than a few hours without constant contact with me on the phone. Now even more concerning to me was what if the palpitations and the numb are were something serious, and I was going to die, who was going to take care of my son if I died.
I have another child and the same feelings did not go through me for her. I know if I die, she will be ok. Yes, it would be awful, devastating, horrible and all the other adjectives that you can think of, but it would not be a matter of life and death. If I were to die unexpectedly many people would know what to do with my daughter: feed her, love her, hug her, give her strawberry milk, but only 1 or 2 people would know what to do for my son: feed him, count his carbs, love him, check his sugar, hug him, adjust his insulin needs, and give him hot cocoa. The first few hours after my death, when my family would be mourning, would be the most critical time for my son’s health as well. It truly would be a matter of life and death.
Because caring for Type 1 diabetes is such a hands-on 24 hours a day responsibility, it is almost impossible to teach someone everything they need to do if I were not available, not available as in dead. A support system needs to be put in place before my early demise to ensure my son’s health. My parents know to call our CDE, a friend whose son also has Type 1, and a visiting nurses association to come and stay with my son for a few days.
So in the end, it was not the fear of the heart palpitations and numb arm that brought me to the hospital, it was the fear of dying. Not the rational, healthy, respectful fear of dying that most of us have, but the irrational fear of dying that my son would not be immediately well cared for if I died. No one in this world wants to die when their children are young, and no one wants to die if they think it may be at the expense of the health and well being of another person, namely their child.