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In April of 2017, my 18-month-old daughter was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. This is her story.
Most reading this will now know that on April 7th, our 19-month-old Ella Rose was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.
We’re no strangers to the diabetic world but unfortunately, we have discovered that this fact makes it no easier to hold your severely ill baby and know in one, stunning sugar meter reading that her life and our lives have changed.
Emergency room checks and testing felt like a formality and when the doctor delivered the diagnosis, it was only a medical confirmation of what my mother’s instinct and then JM’s meter had already told us.
For anyone completely unfamiliar with diabetes, in the simplest of terms, Ella’s tiny pancreas is unable to produce any insulin, the chemical needed to help siphon sugar throughout the body.
Because of this breakdown, the sugar collects in the bloodstream causing a dangerous reaction called ketoacidosis which when left untreated can lead to unconsciousness or death.
The doctors were astounded at how quickly Ella’s was caught – her sugar levels were at 23 when we brought her in. For most of these poor babies, they said, their readings can soar as high as 80 if they are not already comatose or dead.
Because ketoacidosis presents like a flu virus (nausea, vomiting, lethargy, shortness of breath) so many parents are sent home from clinics and told their child has a simple virus. (Here’s my little PSA mama’s – if your child has any of these symptoms and especially if it’s accompanied by excessive thirst and increased urination, ask your doctor to do a quick glucose reading. It takes 10 seconds and could literally save their lives).
Thanks to the wisdom the Lord gives medical researchers, Ella will be given insulin injections through a needle (up to five times a day). Because she is so little, it’ll be a tricky balance of knowing how much insulin to give since doses are based on carb intake and we all know how notorious toddlers are for not eating!
It’ll be a continual swing between making sure she has enough insulin to address what she’s eating and not giving too much as to create a low blood sugar which can be critically detrimental to the body, especially in such a little one.
The good news is the majority of properly managed diabetic children -I’ve been assured even ones this young- are just as likely as their peers to live healthy, active, successful lives.
By striking the right balance of all these variables, Ella will continue to be the robust, saucy, hilarious little girl she’s always been. I am so very thankful for the medical advancements and technologies that allow us to know that diabetes is just a word and not a sentence.
I realize that even in the middle of an overwhelming sensation of being out of control (every mom’s favorite feeling, right?) and the whirlwind of change that is gusting through and blowing over routines and normalcy, that others have it far worse.
This perspective doesn’t make me feel less sad or worried or guilty but it does make me feel more grateful, more empathetic and more aware that everyone’s trials are uniquely difficult if not equally complex.