I was the mother of three and 35 years old when my 3-year-old daughter was diagnosed with Diabetes. She intermittently drank lots of water and urinated frequently. Then on December 19th, we were stuck in the traffic at Clackamas Town Center after shopping for Christmas. We went to the theater to pass some time and she became restless and inconsolable with the “infamous” thirst. I finally admitted something was wrong and, at Emanuel Hospital, my fears were confirmed. My daughter had Diabetes. The nurse in me took over and I rapidly did what was needed to take care of the situation. I “bargained” with God that I wouldn’t complain, as long as she was okay. She was always very brittle, and I would do the exact same things a few days in a row, and her sugar would be hundreds of points different.
Everyone thinks it’s the shots that are the worst, but it’s really not. It’s the strict schedule and the dreaded counting of every carbohydrate. It’s the lack of sleep when you set an alarm clock every two hours to check sugars so another potentially fatal night-time seizure won’t occur. It’s the heartbreak when she is not included in sleepovers. It’s the fear when on the swim team she is conscious, but her blood sugar drops in the 20s, and you have to fight to get her to drink juice.
Through the years we went through anxiety, struggles with school and daycare, and the constant juggle to protect, but also wanting her to have a “normal” childhood. Disease hits a whole family and I’m sure all five of us would tell a different story. We volunteered for clinical trials and found out one of our sons tested positive for the marker, but not for the trial and our other son refused to participate. My husband and I were both negative.
Fast forward six years and our son was playing Freshman football and started to get tired and was getting up to go to the restroom during the night. I checked his sugar and with a reading of 300 we headed back to Emanuel. The embarrassing part starts now. With another diabetic child, I was just as mad as my son was, and was of no help whatsoever. I needed someone else to talk with him about the disease and management. How could this happen to two of my children? With our combined anger, our household was a lot of fun for a few years…. Then you have the teenage years, and that is a totally different story.
Over the years I have come to grips with life’s struggles and my inability to control it all. We have remained a family. As a nurse, I see all of the complications of the disease (the amputations, blindness, renal failure, etc.). I see how people judge the “non compliant” diabetics, and I want to scream. It’s not easy to manage on a day-to-day basis. There are no days off. I believe this autoimmune disease can be cured.