October 3rd will always be a bittersweet day for me and my family. It’s the anniversary of the day we found out my youngest daughter had Type 1 diabetes. It was two years ago, a Monday morning that started like any other, and devolved into a day that changed our lives forever.
I took this picture two days before Colleen was diagnosed.
All the signs had been there over the summer, but as hindsight is 20/20 we didn’t realize what “the signs” really meant. The excess thirst, the bed wetting, excess visits to the potty, and weight loss were mistaken for drinking lots of water because it was summer and growing. But on October 3rd those things came into focus as the warning signs of Type 1 diabetes. That morning I took my daughter to the Dr. for what I thought was a urinary tract infection, since she was having pain urinating. When the Dr. came in and told me she did not have bacteria in her urine, she had sugar, I had to ask what that meant. The Dr. replied, she’s diabetic. My first thought was, “Oh, no. My poor baby.” I couldn’t breathe, I started shaking. They took her blood glucose and it was over 400. Normal blood glucose range is around 100. She got her first insulin shot, and took it like a champ. We then went to a Children’s hospital in Norfolk, VA two hours away to learn how to handle her new health issue. For the next three days we stayed at the hospital and were taught about diabetes, and how to handle taking care of a child with diabetes. October 3rd. The day our lives changed forever.
What I came to realize that day was that our family is very loved, and we have a very supportive community of friends and family in our Church and at my daughter’s school. As I rode to the hospital I knew that everyone we knew who had heard the news was praying for my daughter, and that completely comforted me. I knew we’d figure out how to manage, even though it was a huge life change. While I wouldn’t wish to ever have my child be ill, I was thankful it wasn’t anything worse. When I was at the Children’s hospital you’d hear the intercom announce anytime there was a Code Red. I prayed for the poor child that the announcement was for and knew that even though I felt our situation was bad, and there is no cure for Type 1 diabetes, we’d still be able to learn how to manage the illness.
Type 1 diabetes is different than Type 2. My daughter’s pancreas does not produce insulin any longer. The cells in her pancreas that produce insulin no longer work because her body’s immune system attacked those cells and destroyed them. People with Type 2 diabetes still produce insulin but their bodies have become insulin resistant and no longer use the insulin effectively. My daughter will require insulin shots, or an insulin pump unless a cure is found for Type 1 diabetes.
We are managing, and Colleen handles everything like a champ. She has a lot to learn as she grows up about how to take care of herself. She was diagnosed at age 7 and is now 9 years old. I’ll have at least 9 more years of reminding her to check her sugar, reminding her constantly to be diligent about her self-care. Sigh. Nothing I ever thought I’d deal with as a parent, but I love her no matter what. Colleen plays soccer, and field hockey. Last year she ran her first 5K with me. As a runner, having your child like something that you love is pretty cool!