Is this normal?
As a parent, this is a question you ask yourself often. It's easy to think the worst or to get wrapped up in googling symptoms. You pray that your gut instincts are incorrect.
Over several weeks I watched on as my 3-year-old son's health deteriorated. I didn't realise the extent until my gut instinct was confirmed.
The change was gradual but I could see the signs, I just didn't connect the dots.
This was sign number one. I voiced my concerns to other parents, but was reassured, "my girl did that at that age", "oh they used to drink water like it was going out of fashion".
Still, I googled.
What did Google tell me: Could be a sign of diabetes.
"It's not diabetes" was the response I got from so many people.
Then came the other symptoms, bed wetting which was out of character and I thought it was because of the excess water, tiredness which I linked to longer days at kindy, poor behaviour which I thought was because of his increasingly mobile younger twin sisters, a poor appetite which I just put down to him being a fussy 3-year-old, weight loss which was gradual but I knew he looked thin.
Then over one weekend, he became a very different version of himself and I knew I should have trusted my gut.
After a long Sunday night of vomiting, laboured breathing and almost incoherent, delirious sentences I convinced the GP they needed to make time to schedule us in, despite being fully booked.
We took a urine sample with us and of course, it showed glucose present. Then came the first of hundreds of finger pricks, confirming his blood sugars were far too high.
"Right, we've phoned the hospital and they know you are coming. You need to go straight there."
We were ushered out the back entrance so we could avoid the waiting room and I cried as I drove to the hospital. It was a combination of guilt, fear and sympathy for my poor boy.
That was the start of our 10-day hospital stay, not only to get his blood sugars under control, but also to get educated on how to best look after our newly diagnosed type 1 diabetic.
Even though we are still at the start of our diabetes journey, we have learned how cruel and fickle this disease can be. No two days are ever the same.
Our boy, who turned 4 during his hospital stay, now has to have a minimum of four injections a day, more if we need to correct his high blood sugars. He was having finger pricks every few hours so that we could monitor his blood sugars and try to keep him in the correct range.
A 4-year-old doesn't always recognise his symptoms when his blood sugars are high or low, that comes down to us.
It's our job to manage his diabetes and a constant battle of questioning what we are doing and if we are doing the right thing.
Luckily, we are fortunate enough to have great family support, both emotionally and financially which enables us to afford a continuous glucose monitor (CGM).
This is a device which has a sensor which sits under his skin and provides blood sugar readings every five minutes.
We get alerts when his blood sugars are going too low or too high, currently, we are struggling with lows.
The monitor means we don't have to do 2am finger pricks, but when we get low blood sugar alerts we still have to wake a sleeping 4-year-old to encourage him to eat or drink something to stabilise his blood sugars.
This is a journey we wouldn't wish on anyone but we are so grateful for the technology which enables us to go to work while our boy goes to daycare.
It provides us with peace of mind and accurate data which is sent to our phones, so we can keep track of him throughout the day.
It's well known that better management of diabetes can reduce the risk of complications and other conditions later in life. CGMs enable this and everyone should be able to access them.
They are not cheap and I know how much some families struggle and how they would benefit from a device like this.
No one chooses to have diabetes, it's not something we could have prevented, but it is something our boy will have to deal with for the rest of his life.
Hopefully, this technology can reduce the risk of further complications, but the fact that it is not readily available to all diabetics infuriates me.
Our health system needs to change. We can no longer be the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff, too many children, families and adults need equitable access to devices and technology which would improve their health outcomes, ultimately improving their lives and saving taxpayer dollars.
- Anita Moran is a former Rotorua Daily Post journalist.