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: Danielle Light
Location: Abington, Mass.
Last summer, it was hot…hot enough to not even think twice when you see your 4-year-old drinking a lot of water. And peeing a lot? Of course. Because she is drinking all that water.
I mean, why would we think diabetes? No knowledge of the symptoms, no family history. Never, ever crossed our mind.
It was Labor Day. Bella seemed unusually sleepy and her belly hurt. A call to the covering pediatrician resulted in the suspicion that “she was fighting the flu.”
By Sept. 5, something seemed very, very wrong. She could barely stand. Off to her doctor…pee in a cup…finger stick…several hushed voices outside our room.
The door opens and Dr. Wilson says, “Call your husband NOW. Tell him NOT to wait, to come right away. Isabella has diabetes…we can’t even read her sugar levels, they are so high. She is in DKA. You are going to Children’s Hospital.”
Every ounce of blood in my body ran cold. I was faint…crying…afraid. The next four days consisted of IVs and needles—things I am deathly afraid of. Learning about carbs and insulin and a new normal that is anything but.
Bella was diagnosed Sept. 5 and turned 5 on Sept. 18. A big part of me mourns the loss of what I knew as her childhood. But I also celebrate a rebirth that brought with it something we never ever expected.
The biggest piece of advice I would give other parents who are new to type 1 diabetes, like myself, is: in order to care for your child, you must remember to take care of yourself. This is a full-time job on top of all the other responsibilities we have as parents. Reach out and find support. There are so many wonderful resources through the American Diabetes Association, within the local community and online. We are an army.
For me, it is a relief to know there are others who completely understand the ups and downs of type 1. More experienced parents can offer an ear when you need valuable advice. You realize you are not struggling through this alone.
As exhausted as we are, we will fight every single moment for Bella until she can fight for herself. And then we will fight right alongside her, until there is better awareness and a cure. We are her “diawarriors” and she is our hero.