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?
This is the latest in our occasional series from parents of children with diabetes, illustrating the emotions, challenges and successes each family faced upon diagnosis.
Name: Jessica Miller, mother of Sadie, age 9, diagnosed at age 9
My family will never forget the date of Jan. 28, 2013, the day that our 9-year-old daughter, Sadie, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. It turned our world upside down!
In the couple of week prior, Sadie had been complaining of stomachaches and had even gotten sick a few times. My husband and I decided that she must have a stomach virus and was just having trouble getting over it, because one day she would be sick and the next she was fine. Not until a very scary episode did we really think that it was something more serious.
It was a Saturday and Sadie had not eaten all day. But we were going to a birthday party so I thought she would cheer up. Sadie seemed fine at the birthday party until she drank some punch. It seemed like right away she started feeling sick. She wouldn’t leave the trash can because she thought she was going to get sick.
While on our way home from the party, she got really pale and really tired. She fell asleep in the car at about 4 p.m. When we arrived home she got right out of the car and got into bed. She did not wake up until the next day around noon. That was when my husband and I thought something might be wrong.
Since the doctor’s office was not open on Sunday, we waited until Monday morning to take her. When the doctor came in to see her, we told him all of her symptoms. He too thought they were strange. He informed us that first he was going to check her urine. He came back with a face no mother wants to see. He said that it did not look good, but he wanted to check her blood glucose. The monitor read 368 mg/dl. To us, that was a foreign language. We asked the doctor what that meant, and he said that it should be between 80 and 170. He informed us that he was admitting Sadie to University of Kentucky Children’s Hospital because her urine indicated that she had ketones, and her health was in danger.
I immediately broke into tears. I had heard about type 1 diabetes and I knew that it was lifelong and a very hard disease, especially for young children. He also informed us that Sadie had lost 11 pounds in a very short amount of time. Of course we did not notice, because we saw her every day.
After we arrived at the hospital, they started Sadie on an insulin drip and checked her blood glucose every two hours. They informed us that her A1C was 11.2 percent and explained what that meant. Evidently Sadie was much more sick than we could have imagined. After a day of treatment, Sadie was starting to feel better.
The doctors and nurses were so helpful and informative. They answered all of our questions and eased our minds about our four-year-old son also developing type 1 diabetes. They showed us everything we needed to do and didn’t let us leave until they knew we had it right. It was now time to try this at home, and it turned our world upside down! But Sadie adjusted so quickly. After just a couple of weeks, she was giving her own insulin shots. It was my husband and I who were having the hardest time adjusting.
I was working out of town at the time, an hour away. I cried every morning that I had to leave her so far away. Even though my husband was right there for her, it was still really hard. By God’s grace, I got offered a job by a wonderful business and I was able to work in my town and be close to her when she needed me. My new job has been so understanding with me being off work for her care.
I have now taken a part-time job as well. I didn’t want to, but now my daughter’s doctors say she is ready for an insulin pump. With them being so expensive, even with insurance, I need to save up some money to pay for it.
I never realized how strong my daughter actually was until she was diagnosed. She has been our rock. She is the one hugging us when we are crying for her. We have learned that everything happens for a reason and, if God brings you to it, he will bring you through it!