The day I write this post marks 23 years that my baby brother was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.
Picture this: Fifteen-month-old screaming his way through a family vacation, my parents, like any other parents, brushed this off as him just being tired. Fast forward, end of the trip, no signs of a change, things got worse, they knew something was off.
Trip to the ER, my parents at this point have no idea what’s going on.
A nurse unexpectedly drops a bomb…
“Why didn’t you tell us he was a diabetic?”
My mom’s heart fell to her stomach. She didn’t know. My brother was 15 months old, laying in a hospital bed fighting for his life.
He had to be flown to Children’s Hospital in New Orleans, alone.
My parents rushed by his side while, 6 year old me, had to travel with my godparents. The three-hour trip felt like an eternity.
My first memory was seeing my baby brother hooked up to machines with my mom scared by his side, my dad, trying to stay strong. But, how do you stay strong when your child is fighting for his life.
Everyone left, we were alone.. the four of us, how it has basically been throughout this whole journey, with the exception of a few family friends who have made it a point to be involved in this journey, and for them, we are forever grateful.
My dad and I spent the week hopping from hotel to hotel while there was only room for my mom to spend the nights with my brother.
I remember my Dad trying to keep some sense of normalcy for me, letting me eat a happy meal, watching cartoons. My poor daddy, I didn’t realize what was really happening and how our lives were about to change until much later.
After a week in the hospital, we were sent home. My mom and dad spent the week in the hospital learning how to check blood sugar, count carbs, and dispense insulin and then were sent home to keep my brother alive.
I don’t recall much about the next few years of my brother’s life, except him having seizures. I remember the terror that shook our house at 3 in the morning when my baby brother would have low blood sugar. I remember the sounds, the sights, the scariest moments of my life.
We were a team, my parents, my brother, and myself. We fought this disease like a team.
A team of four.
The years passed and we remained a team, counting carbs, eating at the same time. We were a united front.
But, it was hard… the years as a young child, I knew no different. I fought back the tears when I was scared. I fought back the anger when I was mad. I fought the sadness when I was confused.
For over 15 years, we traveled to New Orleans every three months for checkups. My brother (and my mom) had this disease under control.
Growing up, diabetes was second nature to me. I spent every moment of my childhood learning and listening to my parents as they mastered new techniques and navigate new equipment.
We made it.
My “baby brother” is a 24-year-old thriving adult. Graduated high school with honors and currently pursuing his nursing career. He’s healthy and happy. He’s my biggest hero and I will forever be his biggest fan.