Who is Wyatt

Wyatt is a strapping 6 year old boy with his eyes set on the sky and his hands in the mud. Those who meet him are instantly shocked by the depth and breadth of his conversational skills and the infectious nature of his personality.

The most outgoing and friendly 6 year old you'll ever meet, Wyatt is also extremely well behaved and polite. He is equally at home in a fancy sushi restaurant or in the mud in his back yard trying to turn his yellow lab, "chocolate."

Wyatt is absolutely infatuated with aircraft of all types and with old cars, yet his room is also covered with fishing and hunting memorabilia. When it comes to bass fishing, NO ONE is better with a spinnerbait, or his secret weapon, a Texas-rigged red worm.

He is a fixture by his dad's side on every fishing or hunting trip.

Wyatt is as normal as any other kid his age . . . for 3 hours at a time . . . on the good days.

Before

Prior to being diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes in November of 2008, Wyatt, then only 4 years old, attended preschool in his small town (less than 900 people) in central Arizona. It was normal for him to get up and attend school in the morning and find himself on his dad's bass boat scouring the waters of Roosevelt lake by early afternoon. (To tell the truth, a few sick days were taken to catch that morning bite, too).

After a long day on the lake, as Dad sunk into his easy chair, Wyatt would be found in his backyard, climbing trees, chasing the dog, building forts and loving life (usually in 100 degree heat).

At bedtime, there were stories of the big fish he caught (funny how the big one never got away with him) and excitement for whatever tomorrow would bring.

Since we chose NOT to have cable or satellite TV in our home, Wyatt filled his time with art projects, Lincoln logs and getting ready for that next trip to the lake.

The Day Our World Stopped

One evening, after a particularly long afternoon in the yard (Dad had to work and couldn't go to the lake) Wyatt came in and sat down on the family couch and just stopped. He didn't want to get up, he didn't want to play, he just didn't feel right.

Mom noticed he was breathing hard, like he had just run a race and won. Concerned he may be getting sick, we watched him closely for the next few hours. Soon he went to the bathroom and laughed because his "pee turned foamy." In truth, there was a 4 inch head of foam in the toilet when he was done.

Returning to the couch, his heavy breathing continued. As we put him to bed that night, we were concerned and decided to take him straight to the doctor in the morning if the problem hadn't gone away.

The next morning, the rapid breathing continued, but had not gotten better or worse. We drove 40 minutes to see his doctor. Upon a physical inspection and listening to the symptoms, the doctor told us to take Wyatt straight to the emergency room. He suggested Wyatt might be diabetic.

We drove across the street to the E.R. and Wyatt was admitted immediately. After a couple of tests, we were told Wyatt had a glucose level of 980 (100 is normal) and needed to be rushed to Phoenix Children's Hospital, over 2 hours away by ambulance. Worse yet, only one parent could ride in the ambulance with him.

The Hospital

By the time he arrived at the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) in Phoenix, Wyatt was already incoherent. He did not recognize his mom or dad and was terrified to be in the hospital with all the strange people. Later we were told he was in a full blown episode of Diabetic ketoacidosis, or DKA.

It took 4 days of IV fluids, insulin adjustments, Ketone tests, and the most intensive training of our lives to be released from the hospital. When we finally were released, the nursing staff did not say good bye, they simply said, "see you soon." (Most Type I diabetics have many trips to the hospital in their lifetimes.)

Learning the Ropes

Upon leaving the hospital, we checked in to a nearby hotel to take stock of our situation and recover from our ordeal. Since it was 2 hours home, we wanted to be sure we could take care of him on our own before leaving the area of the hospital.

After going to the pharmacy and receiving 2 of "the big bags" of prescriptions, Dad returned to the hotel and laid out all the new equipment. There were syringes (that had too long of needles the first time), alcohol wipes, two different vials of insulin, glucose meters, testing strips, ketone strips, band-aids, glucose gel, and scariest of all, the glucagon shot; a long red container that had a giant syringe filled with clear liquid and a small vile with 2 white tablets. We had been told the glucagon was only to be used in case of extreme low blood glucose and that Wyatt would be close to death if we ever had to use it.

Our New . . . Life?

Wyatt's days are now all about his glucose levels first and everything else if there is time. Most mornings he wakes up at 6AM while Mom and Dad are still snoring, exhausted from the day before. Some mornings he stumbles into their bedroom and says, "my legs hurt," a sure sign his glucose is dangerously low.

Before most kids starting to get ready for school, Wyatt's finger is already bleeding from the finger poke to test his glucose level. If his levels are low, he get's 3 ounces of juice and gets to bleed again in 15 minutes so we can make sure his level came up. If he is high, he gets an injection of insulin (shots are never fun, but they particularly suck at 6 in the morning) and gets to bleed again in 15 minutes to make sure his levels are going down.

Then Wyatt get's to have breakfast. Each portion of what he eats is carefully measured and calculated so he can be given the correct dose of insulin to counter the carbohydrates he consumes. He must eat everything he was given, because the shot has already been given and if he doesn't his glucose levels will crash. That's just to get through breakfast.

The rest of the day is broken into 3 hour increments. Every 3 hours Wyatt get's his sugar checked and is either given juice to bring his levels up, or a shot to bring him down, or occasionally, rarely, his levels are in the "good range" and he gets to feel normal for a little while (as long as he doesn't want to eat; that requires another shot.)

All in all, his sugar is checked between 6 and 10 times a day. He receives a MINIMUM of 4 injections every day in his arms, legs, stomach and hips (we rotate because the scar tissue builds up from all the injections.)

Like anything else, it sort of becomes a routine, and if that was all we had to manage in our lives, it would be almost too much. Add in work, and school and it's a crushing burden that no family, no child should ever have to suffer with.

Today

Today, Wyatt is as normal as any other kid his age . . . for 3 hours at a time . . . on the good days. In between the finger sticks and injections, he does his best to return to the innocent world of a child.

It's tough to do when your never out of site of your parents now and mom or dad is always interrupting you to "check your sugar" or give you a shot. He can't sleep over at his friend's or cousin's house because they don't know how to handle the diabetes. For that matter, he can't go over to play without Mom or Dad going with him anyway.

Wyatt is home-schooled now, because his dramatic swings in glucose levels would mean needing a parent at school full time with him to make sure he didn't end up passed out in the corner. He misses his friends, but does pretty well for a 6 year old . . .

The fishing trips with dad are a distant memory. We had to sell the boat to pay for insulin and to buy a house closer to a hospital. Probably wouldn't use the boat much now anyway as we're a long way from the lake. He still talks about fishing every day though, and remembers all the good times on the boat. Dad promises we'll go again someday, but it's getting harder to believe, especially when he's selling rods and reels to help make the bills. How will we go without a fishing pole? Oh well, Dad will find a way.

I haven't been hunting with Dad much either. He got drawn for tags the last 3 years, but I never saw him go hunting.

I don't see Dad as much as I used to. He's always going into work early and staying late and promising me we'll play together later. When is later? It's been a long time.

Mom is around most of the time, but she isn't teaching school anymore. She seems to be almost too busy with homeschool and taking care of me and my baby sister to have time for anything else.

I see Mom and Dad cry a lot these days. I don't know why, but I think it has a lot to do with Diabetes. I know it's not my fault though ... right? Well, my legs hurt, so I better tell them to check my sugar again.

The Future?

What does the future hold for Wyatt? We'll, that depends on a lot.

Everyone says a "cure" is coming, but we sure haven't seen it yet. Technology is getting better, we hear about Continuous Glucose Monitors and Insulin Pumps, that would mean better control over his highs and lows and only 1 shot every 3 days instead, but so far, with no insurance, those are just a dream.

One thing we know for sure, is the more time he spends with high sugar levels, the more damage is done to his developing blood vessels, eyes, heart and kidneys. It's strange to go to the doctor for a checkup and really have it mean something when he looks in your eyes or tickles your feet.

We're trying as hard as we can, but the future looks sketchy at best. Our house is for sale because we can no longer afford the payment. Our business is struggling with Dad trying to run it on his own in a bad economy. We have no health insurance and couldn't afford the premiums even if we could qualify.

And above all, we have to buy those diabetes supplies to the tune of $300 or more a month. And what about Sister? Will she get diabetes, too?

.


-->