Diabetes is a disease that affects the whole family, especially when a child is diagnosed. Parents of children diagnosed with diabetes face overwhelming, and sometimes frightening, questions such as: How can I strike the balance between caring and hovering? Will she ever be able to eat sweets again? How will I ever be able to let him go out on his own?
All week long, we have been presenting stories from parents of children with diabetes, illustrating the emotions, challenges and successes each family faced upon diagnosis. The Densons are the final story in our series.
Name: Lori and Philip Denson, parents of Hallie, age 11, diagnosed at age 11
From: Midland, Ga.
Our 11-year-old daughter, Hallie, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes just last month. She showed a small handful of symptoms the first week of June 2013. She was urinating more and was very tired. I assumed she might be suffering from a urinary tract infection, and the fatigue was possibly from a busier-than-normal family schedule.
I immediately knew something was wrong after Hallie gave her urine sample to the nurse. The door opened and now there was a request for blood. Our sweet girl has many gifts, but a positive attitude regarding giving blood and taking shots is not one of them.
And then it happened. Friday, June 7, 2013. Our family was forever changed. The doctor walked in the room and explained that Hallie’s blood glucose count was 549 mg/dl. Our healthy and beautiful daughter had type 1 diabetes.
When the doctor left the room, Hallie looked at me with tears in her eyes: “Mama, does this mean I can’t dance anymore?” Although my heart was beyond heavy, I remember thinking that my words would set the foundation of how she will cope with this new path she has been given.
I responded, “Of course you will dance. This will NOT change a thing! We will grieve this news for exactly one day. And then we will get our ‘big girl pants’ on and figure this whole thing out. This will be like brushing your teeth. You have to brush your teeth a few times a day. Now you will have to check and maintain your glucose levels a few times a day.”
Hallie smiled. Whew, the pep talk worked.
In just a few weeks, our healthy little girl has accomplished the following: overcome her fear of shots and finger sticks, attended overnight church camp, been swimming in six different pools, learned to calculate carbs and insulin, twirled and danced throughout the house, educated her friends about diabetes, chased lightening bugs in her pajamas and attended an Atlanta Braves game. Not to mention, she and her best friend are currently designing diabetes accessories made from duct tape.
Our family continues to learn more about diabetes on a daily basis. We are beyond thankful that diabetes is manageable—it could be worse. We continue to try and make lemonade from the lemons we were handed.