I've read and heard lots of diagnosis stories from parents of Type 1 diabetics. They're usually fairly harrowing tales of long, unresolved illnesses, excessive urination, dehydration, bedwetting which often don't get correctly diagnosed until the child goes into ketoacidosis and ends up in a hospital bed.
Our story is a little different. I'll need to break it into bits as it wasn't a single diagnosis, it was an evolving one over months.
Finlay is our third child. By the time Vicky was pregnant we were old hands at all this baby stuff. The first scan at about 10 weeks was fine: head, body, two arms, two legs. Everything in the right place. So when we went back for our 19 week scan we were as relaxed as could be. After all, it was a planned pregnancy so Vicky had been on the folic acid and vitamins, eaten well, looked after herself; I'd performed my bit with consummate skill; we were in our thirties but short of a risky age. Our other children were healthy. What could go wrong???
The young sonographer was very good. After she'd shown us the basics she started doing all the measurements while we grinned like Cheshire cats and started thinking of more boy's names. She started looking at the Doppler showing the blood flowing through the heart. Even with the third child I still thought it was great watching all the red and blue colours swishing through my son's body. It was all looking so good that the sonographer's calm, unflustered comment that she couldn't quite see something properly and was going to get her supervisor didn't raise a flicker of worry for us. Even after the supervisor said she would book us in for another scan at the hospital with a specialist the next day we weren't all that fazed. After all, she said that it might not be anything, the specialist would get a clearer picture.
I think the first realisation that things were far from good was the next day when we parked at the hospital and went into the radiology reception. Just as we were telling the receptionist our names someone appeared at our shoulder and whisked us straight down the corridor past the waiting patients. "ok, that's not normal" we thought as the penny dropped for both of us.
After much scanning and measurements and more Doppler images that seemed to go on for an age, the specialist sat down and told us the news that no expectant parents want to hear. Our son's heart appeared to have a number of problems. There were definitely some holes, and some other problems that she couldn't quite see properly. "Will he live?" I can't remember the answer but it wasn't a definite yes.
It was then that the enormity hit us. A few tears from Vicky while I did the staunch husband thing, comforting and giving empty assurances that all would be well. My stiff upper lip act lasted as far as the car....
Vicky plays the piano, and is damn good at it. When she's stressed she sits down and gives the ivory a workout. That morning the music soared. I stood in the kitchen listening, and completely lost any composure I had left. A minute or two later, the kettle finished boiling, I picked myself off the floor and got on with our new life. I don't think she noticed.