I had the privilege of meeting Marilyn Russell, the morning DJ for Philadelphia’s 95.7 Ben FM radio station, a few years ago when she interviewed me for her (then) new segment Woman of the Week. Always star struck, I was completely smitten that this celebrity whose voice I heard most mornings on my radio was so down-to-earth and just like the rest of us.  We became fast friends.  At our first meeting, she threatened to write a blog post for Mothers of Brothers – a threat which she is made good on last weekend when a worthy  topic befell her and her son, Matthew.  Once again, she proved to me that no matter who you are — or what you do — mothers share a common bond when it comes to our instinct to protect our children – even when they are no longer children.  Read on!    — Emily

A few weeks back the light of my life and my only child went right from his family doctor’s office to the emergency room. Leading up to his doctors visit, my son Matt was experiencing frequent urination, and what we thought was dehydration from a long day at an outdoor concert he had attended a few days earlier.  Concern grew however, when he complained of blurry vision.

His father went with him to the doctors and called me from the emergency room. Of course I was at work when I got the call.  It feels like, other than the day I actually gave birth to him, I’ve been at work – the list of events I’ve missed in his lifetime is too long for this blog!  Mom Guilt, that will be my second entry.  By the way, don’t ask me what I was in the middle of doing when I got the call, there’s no way I’d be able to tell you – I think my brain turned to absolute mush.  I dropped everything, looked over at my Producer Donnie and simply said “I have to go…”

Matt’s dad said they were admitting him and asked me to stop home and grab clean clothes and Matt’s  iPod, and a few other necessary items. That’s not what I had in mind as I wanted to get to him as quickly as humanly possible, but not being able to think clearly I just started going through the motions gathering up requested items and making my way to the hospital.  We are after all, women of action!

Perhaps it’s a blessing that I had been assigned duties it gave me a little more time to stay in the survival state of mind we know as denial…and of course when I saw my son all wired up to his iv, looking pale and very gaunt in his hospital bed, I wanted to jump in drown in that sea of denial.  His father told me tests had been initiated and doctors and specialists where all convinced that Matthew had Diabetes – type 1.  That’s when I started my conversation with the almighty, someone with whom I perhaps should talk to more often…

I said “hey God, I’ll make you a deal…I’m just gonna pull my son outta that hospital bed and I’m gonna take his place, okay?  You can give me diabetes instead…I won’t mind injecting myself 4 times a day and checking my sugar regularly. In fact look at my belly, I’ve got plenty of fat to stick needles into but my son doesn’t. He’s nearly 6 ft 2 at 120 lbs he’s got zero percent fat so it’d be a lot easier for me to handle, all right?”.   Turns out this was a one-way conversation because I never heard back. I sent out a tweet later that day that said “I’ve just learned the true meaning of blind-sided and I’m dumb founded” and it’s true, for the first several weeks I was dumb-founded and 4-weeks later I’m still kind of processing it all.

Of course as moms we inherently press the action button and I immediately began to educate myself about this disease. First cleaning out the kitchen cupboard of all any and all foods that won’t work on our new diet.  Yes, I say our diet because I have joined Matthew on his quest to stay healthy as well…no more sugar, white flour, etc.

It may be a blessing for me as my busy schedule doesn’t always allow me go reach for the right stuff. A new skill I’ve just acquired is reading labels, learning the importance of a balanced diet, fresh fruit and veggies along with protein, protein protein.  But the real blessing is my son Matthew.  It took him all of one day to rise to the occasion of acceptance and begin his new regimen of sugar-testing and measuring and injecting insulin.  And although my dining room table looks like a pharmacy wing, I’m just not sweating the small stuff anyone.

What also continues to blow me away is how awesome our friends (real and virtual) are and continue to be.  Business associates too – so many people from both JDR and ADA, along with people I’ve interviewed for Woman of the Week, colleagues, etc. have reached out to me in a myriad of ways.  Their help and advice has been completely invaluable so I thank them all.

Day by day we make our way through and each day gets a little less challenging, but is also a reminder of how around each corner lies a surprise that will impact you in ways you can’t even fathom…as I explained to Matthew, now it is his responsibility to help in the diabetic community…maybe he’s supposed to change his major to pre-med and help find the cure?  At the very least, he’s already signed on for a few fund-raisers (as have I right along with him) to help generate awareness and raise money for diabetes research.  My Mom always told me that the Lord gave me big shoulders and that’s how I would always find the strength to carry any burden…I’m saying the jury is still out on that, but taking  it day by day with much gratitude and even more love (didn’t think that was even possible) for my extraordinary son Matthew.

Matty and Me

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