last weekend, h & j & i traveled north to dallas to spend easter weekend with the following members of my family:
the hostess with the big house: my sister, e. her husband, r. and their adorable son, carlos.
my sister, p. her husband, d. d’s father, pop pop. (note: different pop pop from jude’s pop pop.)
p&d’s 14 year old daughter, a. their 11 year old son, b.
pop pop drove in from pennsylvania. p&d&a&b drove in from virginia.
all this to say, the weekend was to be a big family sort of affair.
we arrived first, pop pop a few hours later. then p started to text. b wasn’t feeling well. he kept having to pee every 1/2 hour. possible UTI or something. they wouldn’t arrive until late. would likely have to take him to urgicare the following (easter) morning.
i was prepared to greet an under the weather, surly 11 year old boy. he’s a cranky kid on a normal day. but i adore him. i lived with him when he was a baby. until he was about 6, i took care of him (and his sister, a) for weekends at a time so his parents could go away together. he looks like me. he is my boy. i hadn’t seen him in almost 3 years. the leap from ages 9 to 11 is huge. i couldn’t to just hug him already.
and then there he was at the door. but it wasn’t my b. it was this emaciated boy with black circles for eyes. shrunken cheeks. grey pallor. i gasped. looked at his mother for reassurance. she was blank. he mumbled a bit of greeting. he said he was just thirsty and tired. he drank his water. told me he drank 5 glasses of orange juice that morning. he snuggled against his father for awhile. he went to sleep.
i fretted. i felt panicked. he literally looked like death. something needed to be done, now. why was no one else talking about it?
the next morning, b was worse, even thinner. he lay limp on a chair as e. and i presented easter baskets to him and his sister. d. then took him to the urgicare down the street. while they were gone (and out of earshot of his mother), we all started chattering about how awful b looked, how afraid we were. we all came to the conclusion that either b had diabetes or cancer. thankfully, we didn’t have to wonder for long. d & b returned, only to pick up p; b had been diagnosed w/ type 1 diabetes. they had to go to the suburban branch of the children’s hospital. his ketone levels were dangerously high. (240 mg/dl is considered high; b’s were somewhere in the 500s.)
the rest of the day is a bit of a blur. and only a week after the incident do i have more details about what went down, as i spent the day distracting a. from being in constant worry about her brother. so. the hospital advised that it was not equipped for the severity of b’s ketoacidosis. he was rushed by ambulance to the main hospital downtown. there, 10 doctors worked to stabilize him. if p&d had waited another day to take him to the hospital, he would have slipped into a coma, and likely died. bringing b’s glucose levels down was a delicate operation; if it was done too quickly, his brain could have begun to swell.
in the end, my beloved nephew was stabilized. the next day, he and his parents learned the regimen he’ll have to keep for the rest of his life: 4 insulin shots a day, and a radically different diet. after three days in the hospital, he was released. he gained six pounds this week. he is okay.
i didn’t get to see him in the hospital. we had to get back to austin the day after easter. and i’ve been decompressing from this near-tragic story all week. seeing my beloved, precious nephew so close to death knocked the proverbial wind out of me. and i’ve been weepy and exhausted ever since.
however, i am beyond grateful to have been present, instead of hearing the story from a thousand miles away. i was able to hug my crying sister as she prepared to rush her son to the hospital. i got to hold a distracted sort of vigil with my niece all easter, as she played with her cousin jude for the first time ever. all of these things were a gift. i’m just still trying to process the enormity of it all.
in the end, though, as i process the fear, the panic, the stress, i can exhale: my boy is alive and on his way to perfect health.
ps: the metastory of easter weekend goes a little like this: my mother was flown in from pa as a surprise. only, her flight was diverted back to the airport, and she arrived several hours later. i saw her for a total for a few hours. and jude. oh jude. this was the first trip without the pack-n-play to sleep in, as she’s outgrown it. we created a sleeping bag sort of bed on the floor, which she had none of. instead she slept between us in bed, waking up every hour. she barely napped. and she threw fierce, body-slamming tantrums, like only a sleep-deprived, nearly two-year-old can do. basically, i spent the whole weekend longing for liquor and some sleep.
how was your easter?