We have an older son, a teenager. He is 14 going on 30. He was 13 when his brother was diagnosed. He has always been a fairly responsible, cautious kid. He's kind and clever. When Sugar Bear spent that Friday into Saturday throwing up our oldest was a big help. When Sugar Bear was non-responsive and breathing like he'd run a marathon it was the teenager who helped me quickly get a few things together as I carried his brother out to the car. While I was in the ER right after being told it was Type 1 and calling my husband it was my older son who was the comfort. He's had a lot to take in in his short 14 years. A lot of medical issues and stress for a young man. His Dad is disabled so a lot of responsibility falls to him. I talk a lot about Sugar Bear and his diagnosis and his journey, but today I wanted to take a look at the non-diabetic sibling. The one who learned as much at the hospital. The one who has given his brother a few shots and tested his brother's blood sugar. The one that allows people to feel comfortable watching Sugar Bear because his brother is there with him. The one that is phobic when it comes to needles and turns green at the sight of blood. I want to talk about him because he is important and I don't know what I would do without him.
Before August of 2013 we had homeschooled both the boys. Drago (the teenager) had tried to get into a school in 2012 but wasn't picked but he was picked for 2013. So in August of that year he started his first brick and mortar experience in 8th grade. It was a big transition. He has some fine motor skill issues so writing and writing a lot was a struggle. He needed a lot of attention as a confidence booster that he could do this. We were focused on him. He went to his first dance. He made new friends. When Sugar Bear started showing symptoms that we now know were type 1 we easily were able to rationalize them away. The bed-wetting must be from his anxiousness of not having his brother around as much. His irritability might be from the same thing. The weight loss was a growth spurt with him getting back to his earlier body size. His hunger was just a growing boy. And it soon became the holidays with all that entails. The focus stayed on Drago. Then that horrible weekend after Christmas and everything turned upside down. The focus became Sugar Bear and Type 1 diabetes.
Drago visited the hospital, the first time while Sugar Bear was in the PICU and not responsive. Drago didn't talk about it. He seemed to take things in stride. When Sugar Bear was moved to a regular wing, Drago came for the education. My needle phobic 13 year old even allowed himself a saline shot to know how to do it. He might have enjoyed giving me my shot a little too much, but he did it. We all did. When the three of us (hubby, myself, and Drago) took the test that would allow us to take Sugar Bear home, Drago did the best. At the hospital we were told that Drago had a slightly higher risk of developing Type 1 since he now had a sibling with it.
We came home. We worried. We cried. We stressed. We changed. All the while, Drago went back to school not really having had a Christmas Break. I let the school know what had happened just in case my stoic teenager started having issues. He didn't. He knew the focus was on Sugar Bear. Sometimes things would slip that he felt like Sugar Bear got "better" treatment. Some resentment on the new snacks in the house that were for Sugar Bear also popped up. But overall, Drago seemed the most adjusted of all of us. He got a concussion in school in gym class in the Spring. He started having headaches and missed a lot of school. It was challenging for him. I worried. I stressed more. He finished out the school year with straight A's. No easy feat in normal circumstances. He did the JDRF walk in June with us. He proudly wore his bother's shirt. No complaints. He rolled with the punches. He got to have a little break when he went to camp the end of June beginning of July for a week. But then he came home to find out his brother had had two seizures. Back to our reality. Back to stoicism. During all this time I tried to get the TrialNet done with him. But because of some local snafus it never happened. So I would periodically check Drago's blood sugar. He hated it. It was always normal. In July, we lost a good friend that Drago adored. We went to a funeral. We went to a family reunion. He stayed stoic. August school started back up, and it was back to the grind for him.
And here we are, holiday season again. Drago is 14. He always seems hungry and thirsty. He gets irritable easy. All these can be rationalized as normal teenage stuff. But then December 10th, my 14 year old wet the bed. I freaked. I checked his fasting blood sugar. 132. I called Sugar Bear's endo. They wanted Drago to come in for labs right away. My needle phobic, stoic teenager lost it. It was almost impossible to get him to go. But he did. He is amazing. I held his hand while they drew the vials, the whole time looking into his beautiful brown eyes and talking to him about the things he loves, mainly Math and Physics and video games. But I'd seen past the veneer that day. He was a scared little boy in a young man's body. I held him while he bawled. We got the results later that afternoon. All the lab work came back fine but we were still waiting on the antibodies results. In the meantime Drago needed to test his blood glucose 2 hrs after eating and in the morning when he first wakes up through the weekend. Sugar Bear had a few things to say privately to me like "Is it bad that I really hope he doesn't have it but I kinda want him to know what it feels like even for just a little bit?" and "Mom, I know how to do my shots and testing so you can focus on Drago right now." I cried my eyes out. Please, please, please don't let my stoic teenager have to deal with this. Drago took to the blood glucose testing amazingly well. I held him, my child that is as big as a man, while he cried with worry. You see, I forgot that he worries about his brother. I forgot that he worries he might end up with Type 1 too. I forgot that he is grown enough to stress about these things and still make it look like nothing is wrong. Stoic. Brave. Courageous. I have two very amazing boys. I love them so very much.
The antibodies tests came back all negative! For now. The worry is always there, but the stress of it isn't right now. Christmas break starts today when Drago gets home from school. Maybe we can enjoy it this year.