Colin's Diagnosis: What I Wish I'd Heard

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It’s been 3 1/2 years since Colin was diagnosed with type 1 juvenile diabetes. I took him to the doctor for what I was certain was a bladder infection, due to his frequent urination. We ended up in the emergency room. Thus began our odyssey: a 24-hour-a-day, 7-day-a-week journey into the world of keeping our child alive.

I am grateful for the compassion of doctors. “You can do anything you want in life,” the first on-call physician told my son. “Anything except drive a truck, fly an airplane, or serve in the military.” I started crying when she said this. In truth, she was talking to me, not my 7-year-old son who only wondered when the IV could be removed.

The next doctor assured me we didn’t need to change anything drastically. No big dietary changes, no social changes. In retrospect, I’m grateful for the assurances. My brain could not have handled too much change. I was trying to learn how to give shots and calculate carbs.

“Before you know it, this will become a natural part of your lives,” the next doctor consoled us.

I can’t say enough about the care we received. Kind and compassionate. Reassuring and comforting.

But there are two things I wish I had heard. Pieces to the puzzle that might have changed the course of our lives.

1. Consider your environment.

Imagine if we had heard this: “We’re not sure what triggers the onset of this disease. Environmental factors may or may not play a part. But since there is no family history of diabetes and we know there are numerous toxins in the world that put stress on a young child’s body, let me ask you, have there been any changes in your environment recently? Any type of water damage in the home, mold issues, repairs?”

“Funny you would say that,” I might have responded. “We are in the middle of a major mold remediation. We discovered and exposed this mold 7 weeks ago.” Perhaps the doctor would have been interested in the fact that our dog had been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes two years prior, which might have validated the environmental factor.

Had we connected the hazards of toxic mold to the diagnosis, perhaps we would have tested our home. Perhaps we would have left. Perhaps we would have been spared the next 12 months of suffering. Our other children became seriously ill within weeks of Colin’s diagnosis.

I can’t say for sure the mold caused my son’s diabetes. What I can say is it contributed to the onset. It seems plausible to me that an attacked immune system (assaulted by the same toxins found in yellow rain) can easily get confused and attack its own healthy cells.

2. Radical diet change will help.

I wish we had heard this: “No need to make any immediate dietary changes. I know this is a lot to assimilate. But when you are ready, there are numerous dietary changes that can help your son. These are difficult changes, but they will benefit him as well as every member of your family.”

If a friend had told me to cut out the sugars and refined foods, I would have inwardly rolled my eyes. If an endocrinologist had explained the stress fructose puts on the liver, I would have listened.

If a doctor had explained that gluten irritates a compromised digestive tract—something that Colin suffered severely from—I would have listened.

If a doctor had explained the incredible benefit of fresh vegetables, I would have listened.

We left our environment 15 months after Colin’s diagnosis. I wish we had left the day we came home from the hospital.

We have made the massive dietary changes. I can’t believe the difference this has made. Colin uses 75% less insulin than we used in that first year. He typically goes an entire day with less than 10 units of fast-acting insulin.

Since we left our home, and since the diet change, Colin’s migraines have disappeared. He rarely complains of abdominal pain and his rashes have improved.

He still has a life-threatening illness, but we’re managing it. And just as promised, Colin is thriving and enjoying life.

Somewhere there’s a family coping with the new diagnosis of their child. Perhaps our experience will help.