Our Type 1 Diabetes Diagnosis

When I left you in our last post, we had just learned that Baby had Type 1 Diabetes, and our family would not be moving to Okinawa, Japan.

There was still a lot in the air, would Paul go without us? What would happen to us if he did? What did this diagnosis mean? What about the dogs (who we shipped to Japan in April)? And the stuff the movers just picked up to ship to Japan? We were scheduled to move out of our house in a few weeks, we had plans to sell our cars, we had potential buyers for both.

First I’ll start with Baby’s diagnosis. Type 1 Diabetes. It’s not something we could have prevented. It’s different from the diabetes that you develop later in life, often as a result lifestyle choices. This had nothing to do with what he ate, or how he spent his first year of life. It just happened. His pancreas stopped producing insulin. Likely his pancreas has been slowly dropping in this function for months. Some of the symptoms from decreased insulin are also symptoms that tie in with growing babies, like increased hunger, decreased sleep. These are things that you wouldn’t rush off to the doctor for. But even if we had, even if 4 months ago a doctor had told us that Baby’s pancreas wasn’t doing as well as it was supposed to be doing, there is nothing that would have ‘fixed’ it. This was pretty much inevitable.

So now we found ourselves in the hospital, trying wrap our heads around this diagnosis, and answer all the questions I listed above. I think the stress of figuring out all of the stuff about our move to Japan, sort of overshadowed the diagnosis. Not in a bad way, but in that we didn’t go straight into heartbreak, we weren’t devastated. Our first step was to swiftly go into action to try to deal with our move.

In short we were able to quickly get enrolled in EFMP, which allowed us to speed up the process of getting Baby officially medically disqualified from moving to Okinawa. This disqualification, although depressing, was vital to our goal of having Paul’s orders to Okinawa modified so no one would have to move. We also had to figure out the situation with the dogs. I haven’t talked much about it on social media, but in April we made the decision to send the dogs in advance to Okinawa, so they would be there when we arrived. Most airlines have a heat embargo during the summer from late May-late September. They do not allow snub nosed dogs to fly at all. This is because they overheat easier, thus it’s more dangerous for them to fly. I immediately got to work with our transport company to get the dogs back to America if we had time, because they had already embarked on the most expensive Japanese vacation any dog has ever had. Time wasn’t on our side though and we were only able to get one dog on a last minute flight before the heat embargo, so the other is being kept with the dog transport until she can fly again. It’s not a perfect situation, but it’s the safest for her.

By the time we got all of the above figured out, we had already begun to work on a routine, we had already had our ‘crash course’ in T1 Diabetes management. We were fast learning about insulin, glucose, testing Baby’s blood, checking for ketones, how to properly do injections, how to use an insulin pump, and how to count carbs. We had a few setbacks, we had some really high highs and some lows, but after 9 days we were discharged from the hospital. I really have nothing but positive things to say about the hospital. We had great doctors and nurses, we met some great people, and we are positive about Paul’s future. We have been told over and over, because he is so young, and we are able to establish his care properly, he will never know what life is like before diabetes. Although things seem difficult now, his life should be easier because this happened while he was so young, versus it happening in 5 or 10 years.

We are now home, establishing our new normal, and learning how to keep everyone healthy. We have had a few setbacks, but we are back on track this week.  We have been working on putting our home back together, it took a while but we were able to get our stuff that was packed up the morning of his initial hospital trip back, before it left for Japan.  Baby Paul had his first birthday a couple weeks ago, and he got more toys and clothes than he could ever imagine.

We are still learning, but we will continue to do our best.

We aren’t moving to Okinawa

 

We were supposed to fly to Okinawa next week. We had planned, gone through all the screenings, gotten passports and airplane tickets, we were ready. A couple of weeks ago, on a Monday morning, the movers came to pack our unaccompanied baggage, which is the stuff we wanted there when we got there. Before this we had all been sick, for about 2 weeks all 4 of us had been fighting a nasty cold. That day baby Paul was really fussy, but he was sick like the rest of us. As the day wore on, the movers came and left with about a quarter of our belongings, the baby seemed okay just cranky.

Later in the afternoon everyone was resting and I took the baby outside to play and I noticed he was randomly gagging, sort of dry heaving. I decided he should nap too. While trying to get him to sleep Paul noticed he was breathing rapidly, shortly after I couldn’t get him to latch on to breastfeed. This was the most concerning symptom because he’s never in his life refused the breast, but it was like he couldn’t latch because he was struggling to breathe.

I rushed him to the ER. I believe they thought he had RSV, he was immediately given a nebulizer, IV fluids and a chest x-ray, which came back normal. The next step was the doctor tested his blood sugar. At that point the doctor told me I needed to call my husband because my baby was going to need to be transferred to the pediatric ICU at the larger medical facility about an hour away. They said he was in Diabetic Ketoacidosis. I didn’t really know what any of this meant, except that he almost surely had Type 1 Diabetes, and if that were true everything was about to change.

Within a few hours we were in an ambulance being transferred to the hospital. Baby was stable but his blood sugar was still way too high, and he still had a huge amount of ketones in his blood, which were basically poisoning his kidneys and liver from what I understand. Once we got to the ICU we quickly met several doctors and nurses which told us there was almost no question he had Diabetes. We spent all night testing babys blood sugar hourly, checking the levels for ketones, and adjusting his insulin and glucose dosages. The first night they wouldn’t let me breastfeed him because they needed to be in control of his glucose and insulin while they rid his body of the ketones that were poising his blood. It was a very long night with pretty much no sleep.

The next few days are a blur. He was officially diagnosed with Type 1 (T1) Diabetes, and we rushed to get him enrolled in the military program that helps our family when we have a family member with special needs; EFMP– Exceptional Family Member Program, we needed to be enrolled so we could try to stop our move to Okinawa because they do not have the military medical professionals on the island to treat insulin dependent diabetes.  We knew right away, with Baby’s diagnosis the kids and I would not be moving, but we were desperately trying to make it so Paul wouldn’t have to go without us.

So that’s why we aren’t moving to Okinawa. I am still very sad, for a lot of reasons. I’ll write another post and finish the story later this weekend. I need to dry my eyes and drink some coffee right now. I’ll leave you with a picture of my precious little boy, being a brave dude with his little robot arm, that protected the only IV line that he didn’t blow out the first few days in the hospital.

Homesickness

This morning on my drive into work I was listening to the podcast JQNA. It’s hosted by my favorite YouTuber- Kat from Kitty Does Japan. The episode was about homesickness. I couldn’t help but relate to her feelings about Japan.

Some beach on the Eastern coast of Okinawa, around Kin.
Some beach on the Eastern coast of Okinawa, around Kin.

I only lived there for a little more than two and a half years, but I felt more at home there than I have in anyplace we have been since. I frequently mention Japan, in my blog and in real life. It is a place that is very dear to my heart. Daily I find myself longing to return.
I think it’s safe to say I am homesick for Japan, specifically Okinawa. I think there are a lot of factors in this. First I feel like our time was cut short, we were about to ask to stay longer than the 3 years we were supposed to be there, and we suddenly found out we had to move, earlier than we thought. Also between Paul’s deployment and workups for his deployment, he was off the island for about a year, so I was there without him.

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Our last night out with friends, we left a couple days later.

It’s hard to narrow down the way I miss Okinawa. I miss the food, the beach, riding my bike all over, our friends. But I just miss being there, I miss the way of life, I miss the convenience. I can’t really explain it, except by labeling it homesickness.
While I was there, there were things I missed about the states, certain food places, shopping in department stores (and finding clothes that were my size). I missed my parents, and my family. But I didn’t miss those things in a “I’m longing to return to them” way, it was more like “I wish I could get those things here, but I can’t and that’s okay”.
I don’t know if the military will ever bring us back to Japan. I hope so because that would be easier than trying to get there on our own, especially since we have a family now. But I feel like we will return someday.

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Days after Paul returned from his deployment.

If you are interested in learning more about Japan, Check out Kitty does Japan on Youtube, Kitty Does Japan Blog, and JQNA, all are great sources of info for people looking for info, or those who just want to live vicariously though an expat with awesome adventures

*This is not an advertisement, it is just a post that was inspired by my morning podcast listening. Also it’s a great way for me to further procrastinate the massive amount of school work I need to do today.

 

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A Pretty Good Food Adventure in Tokyo (a book review)

Okay, it’s no big secret that I am deeply in love with Japan. I love all things Japanese, and I have fond memories of the almost three years I spent living on the Southern Japanese Island of Okinawa. I frequently find myself gravitating to Japanese things. I love reading about Japan, following YouTubers in Japan, watching Movies about Japan, and I even have taken numerous Japanese language and history courses since returning to the United States. For Christmas I got an awesome Kindle, and with it comes one free month of Kindle Unlimited. Looking under the Travel section of the books available for free reading I found a book called “Pretty Good Number One- An American Family Eats Tokyo

Book Cover

My favorite things- Japan and Japanese food. Matthew Amster-Burton writes in a way that you can see yourself walking down the streets of Tokyo, you can smell the Yakitori, You can almost feel the sweltering July heat. Maybe it’s partly because I am familiar with Japan, and I have seen streets as the ones he is describing, and I have smelled the smells, and tasted many of the flavors. The writing really comes to life, it felt as if he were writing from my own memories of Japan.

Matthew takes his family on a one month adventure to Tokyo and eats his way around the city, writing all of their adventures and misadventures. With his daughter Iris and his wife Laurie they try new foods, and experience old favorites in their country of origin. If you are familiar with Japan you will recognize many types of foods, and places they eat. Including Mister Donut, where you would find both sweet and savory donuts. Numerous times foods were described that I had never heard of before, but he does such an excellent job with his descriptions that once I got around to googling the foods he was describing the photos that came up matched what was in my mind.

To say the book made me homesick for Japan would be an understatement. Countless times as I was reading this book I would laugh out loud, or chuckle and read passages to my husband who also agreed that the descriptors of certain places and scenarios are spot on. Specifically certain foods and grocery stores. In one section Matthew talks about the music in the Japanese grocery store, in fact most stores have similarly catchy melodies, that just become a part of the fun shopping experience, even though they play the same 10 second tune over and over again.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who has an interest in Japanese food or Japan. The book will bring out the adventure foodie in you and make you wish to hop a plane to Japan for some fresh tempura and udon.

this post is totally my own and I have not been compensated in any way for this review. I read this book because I found it on Kindle and it looked like a good read, oh how right I was.
You can find more information on the book, including where to purchase, here: Pretty Good Number One

Wanderlust Wednesday

Can we talk about food today? I miss the food in Japan.

Yakiniku meat
Yakiniku meat

 

Yakiniku Grill
Yakiniku Grill & a delicious beer

 

Sushi Zen
Sushi roll from Sushi Zen

 

King Taco!
King Taco! Best Taco Rice on the island

 

Sushi lunch set
Sashimi lunch set

 

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Unagi Lunch Set

 

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CoCo Ichibanya curry!

 

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Ramen and Gyoza

 

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Beer vending machine. Best idea ever

 

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Garlic fried rice

 

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Sunabe Gyro

Le Sigh* I really miss the diverse food in Okinawa. It’s weird, I am in North San Diego, you’d think I could find all kinds of foods to suit my every craving whim. But there is so much that I cannot find. Maybe a huge part of it is my love for Japan, and how I long to return.

Paul and I were talking the other night and one of the things I miss the most is izakaya food. They are these little bar/restaurants that have basically an extensive a la carte menu. You can get some meal sets, but most of the food is single serving. You can spend about $3 and try some squid, if you don’t like it, it was only $3, if you love it, eat 6 more orders. We could easily go out and spend about $50, eat lots and lots, and throw back a few beers, leaving full and happy to walk home. I really really miss that. The one by our house was also very family friendly. People were in there with kids all the time. Everyone was very social, it was a very open area, with a bar area and a large tatami mat area with lots of tables in a big open floor area. You’d sometimes find a group of kids playing in one corner quietly while their parents sat with their friends enjoying a beer and some sashimi. It was quite a bit of fun for everyone.

 

 

Wanderlust Wednesday

I have been sort of CRAZY busy with school. But things are winding down. I’ve got a class that ends Sunday and I will be down to one 8 week university class and two full semester community. college classes. I’ve got a big paper to put together this weekend and then I am hoping it’ll be easy going through December.

But being so busy in school has given plenty of time for my mind to wander about places I’d rather be. So of course my  heart goes back to Japan.

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American Village Ferris Wheel 2010
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Paul walking Aiko down our street
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Kokusai Street
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Sunset in the Road Mirrors
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Biru
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Vending Machine Heaven!

Someday I hope we are able to wander back to Okinawa again.

This week I am linking up Wanderlust Wednesday  with Kassie at Mr. and Mrs. O  Go check her out! 

What I Miss Most – Okinawa

If you haven’t seen Rambling of a Marine Wife‘s post What I Miss Most– go read it first,  I can almost mirror her post, but I’ll try to make mine different. 
If you have been a follower for any period of time you know I love Okinawa, I love Japan, and we are holding out hope we will someday return to Japan. But for now I have to live vicariously through friends who currently live there and share all the pictures of their adventures on facebook. And I have my own pictures, they document probably the most fun and adventurous three two years and 9 months of our lives. I frequently look back at Okinawa with fond memories of good friends, great food, and so many adventures. I wish I had been more active on my blog during that time so I would have more detailed stories to go with those pictures.
So without further adieu :
The things I miss most from Okinawa
(in no particular order)
Vending Machines EVERYWHERE
Even in the middle of nowhere. I had at least 3 very close to my house, less than a 2 minute walk.  My favorite drinks were, Fanta orange, Aquarius (like a gatorade, but a very mild, refreshing flavor) and Sanpincha (a jasmine-y tea that is also delicious, unsweetened and very refreshing on a hot humid day.) Sanpincha was probably my favorite of all, the best one is in the Yellow CocaCola can with the shisa and hibiscus on it. And in the winter (or in some machines year round) you could get hot coffee too! A cute little can of Georgia Cafe au lait to start your day!
Georgia Coffee. Yummy/
 Bike rides along the coast
I was lucky and both while living on base and off base I was very close to the ocean. Oh wait, on Okinawa you are always very near the ocean… But I was super close, less than a mile I would say. When we moved off base, and Paul deployed, I picked up bike riding as a way to spend my day (and maybe to get to and from the izykaya without driving.) I would frequently spend HOURS out exploring on my bike, going 20 miles in a day was pretty common.
The Festivals
One of the things I could never get enough of is all the festivals, it seems like there was always something, somewhere being celebrated. So much fun.
Food
I could go on for days about the food, oh the amazing and wonderful food, Japanese, Indian, Thai, Greek Gyros, even the Mexican isn’t that bad. And seriously the fish was so fresh in most restaurants/sushi joints it was usually caught that day. “Catch of the day” had a whole new, literal, meaning.
Drink (of the adult variety)
Okay, I’m not gonna pretend that Okinawa has an amazing drink selection, you can get most hard liquor, but beer and wine are a little lacking, even on base. But.. I did develop quite a taste for Orion, Okinawa’s beer of choice (and locally brewed), and there is always Chu Hi, which, I have no idea what it is, I think it’s a mixed carbonated beverage with sochu. I love Chu Hi! and it’s a great alternative to beer or mixed drinks.
Fun!
Okinawa (and I would imagine, most of Japan) is just fun, and silly, and cute. The guy at the farm across the street regularly walked his bull. Where else will you see that? There is so much cute, everywhere you look! Even the garbage truck plays a fun song, that sadly reminds Americans of an ice cream truck, but you don’t want to run after this guy.
Cute cups of something, inside a free gift mug!
 
My ‘hood
Speaking of the farm across the street, I am so sad but this is the only picture I can find, and it’s in the middle of a typhoon. This is taken from my bathroom window, and that little yellow stand is a farm stand that was regularly filled with fresh veggies! They also grew sugar cane and had cows too.
Just down the street there was a woman who ran a little store out of her garage, selling things like beer, sodas, rice, the bare essentials, and occasionally (if you made it at the right time) bento lunches. Much closer than the konbini (convenience store)
 
Beaches
Most beaches by our house were not “swimming beaches” with beachy sand and stuff, they were very rocky and muddy and full of dead coral and lava rock, so you could do what you wanted, like take your dog for a dip. Or take your fully clothed self for a dip when you ran to hard and far in the heat and you are about to puke (only happened once)
The Late Nights/Early Mornings 
Okay, I partied like a frat boy in Okinawa. Paul and I didn’t have kids, we had no responsibilities and we partied, hard, and frequently. I am so happy to be a mom, and to have responsibilities, but sometimes I miss it a little.
Driving on the “wrong” side
I dunno, for me driving on the left side of the road seemed more natural, it was more comfortable for me. I super dooper miss that.
It’s hard to explain. I frequently get asked “why do you love Okinawa so much?” and I just can’t answer. It’s everything, every bit of that island I love. You just won’t get it, unless you get it. There are a few people I know who get it, where Okinawa is just their happy place. I will always have a place in my heart for that island, and I deeply hope that someday I will be given the opportunity to return.
I could go on forever, but I will call it complete for this time.
I will leave you with a picture of the sunset from my bedroom window.
Sayonara
 さようなら
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