Your son has Type 1 Diabetes!

I could hear the familiar sounds of a ward waking up for the day. Arlo was asleep, I had not slept at all I spent the night holding Arlo’s hand staring at my beautiful boy whom today was Arlo Peace type 1 diabetic.  I was full of mixed emotions. I could see that the nurses had placed some leaflets on the table about diabetes next to the ketones and glucose monitor. I didn’t want to look at them. I didn’t want to do anything other than hold my baby’s hand.

The guilt hit me first, it hit hard. I was a nurse why didn’t I spot the signs. I had very nearly put my son into a coma by not spotting the signs. I had spent 2 days before the hospital admission telling him off for constantly wetting himself and taking drinks from the fridge. Two days later were in hospital.

Sensible me tried to brush off the guilt and concentrate on Arlo.

Arlo woke to say he was hungry as the nurse came to do his blood sugar level. The nurse mentioned he may be hungry for a while. She was not wrong! Five Weetabix later Arlo was asking for more food.


We were told that this was completely normal, he would be starving for the next couple of weeks whilst his body started replacing all the lost nutrients and weight he had lost.

The first thing that struck me was he had not gone for a wee all night and had not asked for a drink. The second thing that hit me was that we needed to give him another insulin injection.

The consultant who we had not met yet came over with the nurse to give the insulin. Arlo looked at us with a look of sadness mixed with fear. He didn’t want to have the insulin, I couldn’t blame him really but we had to persuade our sobbing boy that he had to have the injection. In the end he finally admitted defeat and let us do the injection.

The consultant then sat with us and talked. All I can recall from this conversation was the consultant saying,    ” your son has type 1 diabetes, there was nothing you or Arlo did or anything you could have done to prevent this.” The silence was painful nobody said anything. I’m normally the first to fill a silent room with mindless chat but I had no words. I’m sure looking back it wasn’t longer than 1 minute back then it  felt like forever. The consultant broke the silence and said to us, “Arlo can do anything he wants to do, there are only two things that Arlo won’t be able to do and that’s be a pilot and join the army.” Xrss squeezed my hand and smiled at me. I had always said that one of my fears was Arlo deciding he wanted to go and join the army. The irrational mummy in me didn’t want my boy to join the army and now the choice was taken away from him he would never be able to join the army.

The consultant left and the Diabetic Nurse Specialist (DNS) turned up. Introduced herself, left a bag of goodies for Arlo and apologised as she had to head off for teaching promising she would be back later to speak to us. I didn’t know at the time but the DNS was going to be a consistent solid rock to help us once we were at home and school.

It was only 9am and it felt like we had done a full day already. I still couldn’t face looking at the leaflet’s and books. Arlo was feeling better and had eaten two bowls of Weetabix (four Weetabix in each bowl!!)

We left the ward and went to costa. The nurses said “give him whatever he fancies he will be starving”

He wanted apple juice and flap jack so we gave him apple juice and flapjack. When we got to the ward they did his finger prick test (something that he has never had any problems with from the outset). His level had gone back to above 28mmol (normal levels are between 4-7mmol). It was because of the apple juice and flapjack they said. “Maybe don’t have apple juice anymore” the nurses said.

Yet again the guilt hit us hard.

The next 2 days in hospital felt like eternity. As Arlo started to feel better it was a bit of an adventure to him. He wasn’t really aware how serious and how close to life threatening his symptom’s had become. He also wasn’t aware of how big an impact having type 1 diabetes would be. He was only reminded when it came to having insulin injections and levels tested.

I remember chatting to the DNS the following day, still shell shocked I said ” I can’t believe that 2 days ago Arlo didn’t have type 1 diabetes and today he has, I dint know we are going to manage, we work, we go to Glastonbury festival every year, we go camping how are we going to manage”  The Dns put her hand on  my leg looked at me and said ” no, you did have a child with type 1 diabetes you just didn’t know it until now, you managed that ok and you will manage this ok and still do everything  you always did” I laughed, ignorance was definitely bliss.  We had had the most amazing holiday despite Arlo having undiagnosed diabetes. Would it have been the same had we known before going? I’m not sure.

We were allowed back him once we were “hypo aware” and Arlo’s glucose and ketones levels were within normal range.

“Hypo aware” meant us knowing what to do if Arlo blood glucose level went down to dangerously low level of below 4mmol. “Four is the floor!!” is what we had to remember. if this happened we had to act fast. Listening to the DNS talk to us about managing hypos terrified us both, we had to listen and we had to get on with it there really wasn’t any room for us to fear the hypos. If Arlo could be brave enough to have the injections then we could be strong enough to manage his hypos if they occurred.

So we got on with it, stayed strong and both secretly prayed we didn’t have to deal with any hypos.

Armed with a sharps bin, a great big bag of insulin and equipment, a ton of leaflet’s and emergency telephone numbers we were discharged from the hospital 3 days later. We were bringing our baby home to start our new normal.


What are ketones?

Ketones are an acid remaining when the body burns its own fat.

When the body has insufficient insulin, it cannot get glucose from the blood into the body’s cells to use as energy and will instead begin to burn fat.The liver converts fatty acids into ketones which are then released into the bloodstream for use as energy. It is normal to have a low level of ketones as ketones will be produced whenever body fat is burned.

In people that are insulin dependent, such as people with type 1 diabetes, however, high levels of ketones in the blood can result from taking too little insulin and this can lead to a particularly dangerous condition known as ketoacidosis.

What are blood glucose levels?

Blood sugar levels are literally the amount of glucose in the blood, sometimes called the serum glucose level. Usually, this amount is expressed as millimoles per litre (mmol/l) and stay stable amongst people without diabetes at around 4-8mmol/L.

(ref source:



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