A memory that I have - before any of this happened - involves a beautiful day at a lake with one of my dearest mommy friends and her two children. Our little ones are just a step over babies at age 2 and our older ones are delightful pre-schoolers at age 4 and 5. We are standing at the edge of the water and carefully watching our children while laughing and joking about something or another, which is common when we are together. Suddenly, my youngest daughter starts to whine and cry for food. It seems as though what is happening is a tantrum and I am caught off guard. She is an easy baby and generally satisfied. Perhaps this is what happens when you are in the so-called terrible twos. I am concerned because it seems to be happening more frequently and I don't know how to handle it. My friend has a funny look on her face and what I don't realize is that she (like me) will remember this exact same moment for the rest of her life too.
A few months later and my beautiful little girl is sick. It isn't the first time. I am not particularly worried because all of her symptoms seem non-specific, nothing more than a flu. I wait for another week and schedule an appointment for her flu shot. My oldest daughter is now enrolled in Kindergarten and I am concerned that she might be bringing germs into our house.
The flu shot seems to react negatively in both of our daughters, particularly worse in my youngest. She feels feverish and doesn't want to eat. On Monday, I once again call the pediatrician who explains that is a typical reaction.
The cold symptoms linger on and on. By Thanksgiving, I have gone to the pediatricians office about a dozen times. I can tell when I call the office that the dr. has told the nurse all about me and my hypochondriac ways. It is a helpless feeling when I am given another brush off.
My 80-year old grandmother is the first to speak up. She is rocking my youngest daughter and remarks that she feels thin. The little hairs on my arm stand up because I know she is right. She is thin and she is pale. Her skin is almost translucent. I know something is wrong but I do not know what it is.
The following week, my husband's parents have gone to Florida and we drive to their house to check on it. Before we leave on our 2 hour drive, I catch my youngest daughter staring at the goldfish bowl and I see her try to pick it up to take a drink from it. Quickly, I remove it and hand her a sippy cup full of water. She takes it and drinks it all in almost one gulp. I refill it with water from our sink and hand it back to her, thinking it is good that she is at least staying hydrated. What I do not know is that the moment I turn my back, she has finished the second cup.
The drive is horrible. Crying, potty stops and water demands cause tension between my husband and I. We know something is wrong but instead, we pick on each other. We decide to make it a quick trip and almost as soon as we arrive, we head back home.
That night, I tuck my daughter into bed and sit on the floor next to her, watching her breathe. The breathing is forced and for awhile, I hold my hand to her heart to make sure her chest is moving. It is and I am relieved. Earlier in the evening, she had wet her bed and I check to make sure she is still dry. She is but seems overly sweaty and yet, still too soundly sleeping. My heart is racing.
I run downstairs to the computer and start googling... excessive thirst and frequent urination... immediately I see it: Type 1 (Juvenile) Diabetes.
This is the moment that changed our history forever.
December 11th, 2006, at 7:30 a.m., I telephone our pediatrician for the final and last time. The head nurse answers and I went into a persona that I did not recognize but is now known as "Advocate Mom". Calmly, I explain that I am bringing my daughter back in and that the office is going to perform a urinalysis (insert whether they liked it or not). The new voice must have scared the nurse because without hesitating for too long, she agrees.
At 8:00 a.m., I am in the exam room holding my daughter's limp body. Alternately, she wakes, cries and falls back to sleep at random intervals. Urinating wasn't a problem and we were able to get a sample rather quickly. After taking the sample. the nurse leaves the door to our room open wide. From the angle in which I am sitting, I can't see the nurses station, but I can hear everything.
That was it. I knew it. Everything went hazy and hyper-focused all at once. Still holding my youngest daughter, I stand up to gather our things. The doctor enters the room to tell me the big news but I already know, so it seems anticlimatic. I half listen to him explain that we need to go straight to the hospital because our daughter has Type 1 Diabetes. When he begins to apologize, I completely tune out.
After a moment more, we determine which hospital and I inquire about getting my daughter breakfast. The pediatrician says, "fine but to hurry." So I quickly leave.
On the way to the highway, I use the drive-thru to order McDonald's pancakes and orange juice. (Yes, a fully carbohydrated meal. This should provide insight into how new the world of Type 1 Diabetes was to our family.)
The drive on the highway is a blur. I really do not remember much except for two things: calling my husband and calmly asking him to meet us in the ER and calling my brother and falling apart in sobs - which after hearing for about 30 seconds had him so scared for me getting into a car accident that he promptly hung up. I wouldn't speak to him again for 10 hours.
At 9:00 a.m., the family entered the triage of the children's hospital. As in a t.v. movie, we were immediately swept into a room (my one and only thank you to our old pediatrician was the call ahead) and our youngest daughter's blood sugar was recorded as 800. As extreme as that number is, she also narrowly escapes DKA. We do however have to spend an entire week as it takes almost four days for her blood sugar to stabilize into the 200s.
On Friday evening, we are discharged and sent home.
This is our beginning. (or Chapter 1)