I originally posted this on Type A Mom, a community in which I do some guest posting on. In case you missed it… here is the post in it’s entirety. Thank you for reading about this important topic.
I have to say, it’s taken me six months to really be able to sit down and start writing about this. Juvenile Diabetes is an important topic and Type-A Mom is probably the best forum for me to be able to spread the word.
Why has it taken me so long? I think it’s because when she was diagnosed I felt like a bad mother. I felt like I had done something wrong. I felt like I blamed her for things beyond her control. I felt ashamed of these things… Perhaps it’s because it’s taken me this long to really come to grips with what’s happened in the life of my family. Juvenile Diabetes has forever changed our lives.
Allison was 3 years old in November of 2009 when she was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes… better known as Juvenile Diabetes. There were all sorts of signs and symptoms. At first, it never crossed my mind that she might have Diabetes. Nobody in my family or in her father’s family have Diabetes. It’s not a disease we’re familiar with outside of a family in our church with two members living with Juvenile Diabetes.
It all started with frequent urination. Allison had been potty trained for nearly two years at this point. She wasn’t a bed wetter although she did have the occasional accident. These accidents were confirmed by her pediatrician as urinary tract infections. She was at the doctor four times last year for them. None of the test results came back with any inkling that she was developing diabetes. Once Fall rolled around… her accidents became more frequent and she even wet the bed at night sometimes. I was at a loss. My child was almost four and she was wetting her pants nearly every time we went out and almost every night. I quietly wondered to myself if this could be more than a urinary tract infection…
Allison was also constantly thirsty. I had to carry around water in my purse for her. I felt like I needed a diaper bag all over again. I was carrying clothes, wipes, water. I was becoming frustrated with her and she was acting out. Her behavior took a turn for the worst. She was angry and disobedient. My once happy and outgoing child was now a terror on the playground. I thought she was just trying to be difficult, when in reality her little body was rebelling, not her.
Then came the tummy aches. Allison began to complain of a tummy ache nearly everyday. At first I tried giving her something for it like a children’s Pepto, but clearly I couldn’t keep that up. I wondered if the tummy aches were her way of getting attention or maybe she just liked the taste of the medicine. Whatever the case, I decided to make a doctor’s appointment for the upcoming Monday to try and solve this latest issue.
At church on the Sunday before our appointment, I was telling a friend about all we were dealing with. I was trying to get some advice on how to handle my unruly child. Someone overheard me. The mother and aunt of two girls with Juvenile Diabetes. She urged me to take Allison to the ER right then. I told her no, we have an appointment the next day. She asked me to administer a urine test at home and to call her with the results. I agreed to. She looked so worried. Should I be worried?
I took the test strip to my parents’ house with us. We have lunch there after church sometimes. I had Allison pee on the test strip when we got there. The test would tell us if there was sugar in her urine. The color scale started out light in color for a little sugar and gradually got darker for increased amounts of sugar. Allison’s test strip read darker than the darkest reading on the chart. Wondering what to do, I called the woman. She urged me again not to wait and to take Allison to the ER. So I did.
Her blood glucose reading was so high, they were unable to get a reading on the ER monitor. I knew it was serious by the look on all of the attending doctors’ and nurses’ faces. They drew some blood and after a couple hours accompanied by lots of stares and whispers, the results came back that Allison’s blood glucose was well over 800! A normal person is between 80 and 120.
We were rushed to Phoenix Children’s Hospital by ambulance and that is where we stayed for a week. In that week, I learned that my child had Type 1 Diabetes. Hers was an autoimmune deficiency, meaning that she had a virus recently (possibly a urinary tract infection) and her white blood cells attacked her pancreas rather than the virus. They don’t know why this happens, but something similar happens with Thyroid Disease which runs in my family.
Allison’s pancreas is nonfunctioning. I learned to test her blood sugar every morning, every meal and before bed. I learned to give her insulin shots at every meal to correct her blood sugar or to cover what food she was eating. She’s not fought us a single day. Her behavior has completely changed. She feels good. She feels right and she knows it. Allison is a smart girl. She’s 4 years old now. At 4 years old, she can tell you if she feels low or high. She can tell you if the snack you’re about to give her will require insulin. She can even tell you all about her new insulin pump that’s expected to arrive in a few weeks.
This has been quite a journey. Not only one about the diagnosis that changed our lives… but it’s also been a journey about parenting. I learned that I’m not perfect. I learned that it’s ok to be frustrated with things beyond your control. I learned that we all can bounce back…