A Life-Long Diagnosis
When Ben was seven years old, he started complaining about stomachaches and was urinating a lot. His parents, Liz and Doug, thought he might have a urinary tract infection, so Liz took him to the doctor.
“Even though Ben was displaying some classic symptoms of diabetes, I thought it was a urinary tract infection,” Liz says. “There was just no way it could be diabetes. The nurse came in with a glucose monitor to test Ben’s blood sugar (it still wasn’t registering with me that it might be diabetes). She tried a couple of times to prick his finger but the monitor kept failing. The nurse said it must be broken, but as it turned out the monitor couldn’t read his levels because they were so high. The nurse quickly left the office and a few minutes later the doctor entered. He said, ‘Ben has diabetes; you must go to Connecticut Children’s immediately.’
Handling a Hard Diagnosis
“I was confused, scared and stunned. I had a million questions that my primary doctor was hesitant to answer. My first question was, ‘Are you sure he has diabetes? How do you know from one quick test?’ He just kept saying, ‘They will answer all your questions at Connecticut Children’s.’
I tried to stay calm so as not to alarm Ben, but I was terrified. On the way to Farmington, I immediately called Doug, who was on his way to a business meeting in another part of the state. He turned around and met us at Connecticut Children’s. I could tell Ben was scared, and I tried to tell him that he was going to be OK, but I really didn’t know. At Connecticut Children’s, they wasted no time: within a half-hour, they gave Ben a shot of insulin and then spent three hours instructing Doug and me how to treat Ben’s diabetes. They sent us home with tons of supplies and literature. It was very overwhelming at first, like being first-time parents, but within a few days we were getting used to our new normal. I knew we were going to be OK after our first day at home when Ben said ‘Mom, this isn’t so bad. I think I’m going to be OK with diabetes.’”
A Busy Boy
That was 2015. Today, Ben is 13 and managing his diabetes is an everyday part of his life. He needs to keep track of what he eats as well as his activity levels. And when it comes to Ben, “activity” is what he’s all about.
He’s had major achievements with Glastonbury’s Youth Football Association, and his travel basketball team has made the playoffs the last two seasons. He also plays in Glastonbury’s Baseball League hitting his first over-the-fence home runs last year. In the summer he enjoys golf and tennis and swims for fun. And in his free time, he plays on his X-Box with friends and rides his bike around town.
Since high activity levels have a strong effect on blood sugar levels, he has to be especially vigilant, keeping snacks nearby in case his levels drop too low and a shot if it goes too high. But before every sports season the family reaches out to his coaches to educate them about his circumstances, and they all support him.
With the exceptional care he gets at Connecticut Children’s, Ben isn’t going to let anything slow him down. Diabetes has become a manageable part of his life, as he gets ready for his next major activity: going to high school in 18 months.