For the Love of Sam

Millard says he spends as much time as he can with his three kids. Though life’s calmed down quite a bit, it’s not all been easy. Sam, his 4-year-old son, was diagnosed two years ago with diabetes. “I think the one blessing from all of that is that you have no choice but to be involved. In every aspect, Sam is a huge part of my life,” says Millard.

Part of the challenge is a strictly regimented schedule of meals and snacks, blood sugar checks and insulin injections – a lot for a 4-year-old and his parents. “You get up and check his blood sugar. If he’s low, he gets 15 grams of carbs (usually candy); and you wait 15 minutes and see if he’s normal, which is about 150 for his age. Anything below 80, it’s low, and he gets candy. You’re trying to get it above 80 and below 300. If it’s high, you give him a shot.”

That process continues all day, with scheduled snacks mid-morning and afternoon, meals of precisely 45 carbs and careful checks of his blood sugar. He also gets shots in the morning, midday and evening. “He gets at least three [shots] a day. And it doesn’t stop there. At midnight we check him, and at 3 [a.m.] we check him. Every night,” he says.

Those requirements make it hard for him to try out new foods. “If he takes a bite and doesn’t like it, you’ve got to figure a way to count what he’s eaten; and it’s got to be spot on. Anything can be fixed with insulin, but you’re trying to avoid that as much as possible.” To that end, Millard says he’s learned the number of carbs in just about everything.

Scheuchzer got to experience this all first hand. “Mike and his wife had all the band kids at their house. He said he wanted to learn how to take care of Sam,” Millard explains. “We came out at dinner and gave him his shot because they weren’t sure about that.”

“Every few hours I’d call and say, ‘You’ve gotta check him.’ And all through the night, he’d do it; and it broke Mike’s heart ... he had no idea. Most people have no idea how much diabetes consumes your life. He called me in the morning, and Sam was low [during] the night; and Mike had to wake him up and give him four little Sweet Tart things. And he goes, ‘Man, I just started crying. He was deep asleep and had to wake up and eat.’

“There are some times it hits you hard,” Millard continues. “There are some times we have to do 10-20 finger pricks a day. He’s used to it now – he’ll tell us which finger he wants. It was hard at first. It was a wrestling match every time. We call it our ‘new normal’ now.”

Though this taxing process is now normal, “you have those days when you get angry at God and say ‘Why him?’ Shannon [Bart’s wife] has her days when I’m on the road.” Sam’s condition is further complicated when he gets sick. “When Sam has a cold, it’s like pneumonia for someone else. You have to fight the symptoms of being sick, but you have to watch his blood sugar as well. You’re on the phone constantly with the doctor, and he can end up in the ER. And it’s for the rest of his life unless there’s a cure.”

The Art of Adoption

As with Millard, much of Scheuchzer’s down time is focused on his expanding family. He and his wife already have a 16-month-old and are beginning the process of international adoption. “We’re finishing up paperwork this week, and then it’ll be in the hands of the adoption agency and Kazakhstan. We felt like the biggest need was international – physically and spiritually.”

The process is complicated:  “They assign us a child and send us a picture and/or a video. We take that into a specialist to make sure he or she is developing properly. We’ll approve or deny it. And then we’ll wait a couple of months, and they say, ‘You’re traveling in two weeks.’” “Traveling” means moving to Kazakhstan, wedged between China and Russia, for four to six weeks.