Our New Normal

Raising a Child with Type 1 Diabetes

All smiles during her hospital stay. (Note the IV on her hand.)

In October our lives changed forever. I picked up my daughter and her twin brother from preschool as usual. They each ate an apple and my daughter, Arabella, asked for a cup of water. Then another one. And another one. In the span of 2 minutes. When I told her to wait a little bit she started crying, insisting she needed another cup of water. So I poured her a cup. And then I called the pediatrician. 

See, she had been wetting the bed for a few weeks prior to that day. Soaking through an overnight pull up 3 hours after falling asleep. Waking up in the middle of the night and chugging a cup of water as though she was dying of thirst. I ignored most of them, thinking it was just a phase; she was testing her limits. But seeing my daughter bawling because I wouldn't give her a fourth cup of water in a 2 minute time shook me enough to call the doctor. 

The drive over all I was thinking was she had a UTI. They would test her, give her antibiotics and we would be on our way. Instead, they tested her pee, and then doctor came in and told us she tested positive not for a UTI, but for ketones. I was told that they wanted to prick her finger to check her blood sugar. All the meter said was HIGH. With that, we were told to go home, pack a bag and get her to Children's Hospital—she didn't have a UTI. She had type 1 diabetes. 

We were in the hospital for 4 days. I had to learn to check her blood sugar every 3 hours, including in the middle of the night. I learned to carb count, to calculate how much insulin to give her based on her meal and her blood sugar levels, and I learned how to give my 4 year old daughter shots every time she wants to eat. 

We are almost two months into this new normal. My brave girl now does her own fingers pricks with very little assistance from myself or her dad. She handles the injections like a champ—she just requires someone to hold her hand but we all step in and help. Her twin brother and big sister are wonderful hand holders. Her dad and I take turns tracking her sugar levels and her carb counts. We are hoping to get a continuous glucose meter (CGM) after her check up in February. It would almost eliminate her finger pricks and it makes tracking her sugar levels so much easier. 

It's not without its difficult moments. She is a grazer; she will eat a little bit at a time all day if she was allowed. But now, in order to eat she needs a shot. Or she needs to eat a food that is low enough in carbs to not effect her sugar levels. After two months she is basically sick of every "free" snack so it's a constant struggle to get her to understand that if she wants a snack she needs a shot. There have been random low blood sugars that have caught me off guard and I thanked God that I checked when I did. There have been blood sugars so high that it made me sick with fear.  Insulin is treatment- it's not a cure. She will have diabetes the rest of her life. 

But each day we work through it. For every food-related melt down there is a hug and snuggle. The hospital stay made my connection with her even closer. It's made me realize how strong I am and how resilient children can be. No one wants to have to give their kids shots, no one wants to watch their child go through something like this. But the reality is that it happens. All you can do is adapt and do your best. 

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