When I sat down in early spring to picture what my child’s summer would look like, I had a few ideas. What I didn’t anticipate was an overnight stay at the children’s hospital. Summer was in full bloom and I was busy planning and prepping for our upcoming vacation.
My preschooler was beyond excited and asked multiple times a day when we would be leaving. A few weeks shy of piling everything into the minivan, she fell sick. Nothing out of the ordinary. It presented as your typical bug–tired, fever, and tummy aches. By the second day everything was back normal. Then the third day hit. She was sick again, with all the same symptoms plus vomiting.
So we made a visit to the pediatrician’s office where they checked all the usual suspects–ears, nose, throat, and a urine test. She was already feeling better before the appointment, claiming she didn’t need to go.
I assumed it was probably just a viral infection and we would be sent on our merry way.
The kids were playing on the floor when the doctor came in. My preschooler had sugar in her urine, which warranted a check of her glucose levels. My eyes were fixed on the monitor as her levels popped up. I knew instantly it was too high.
My Heart Sank.
I didn’t need to wait until the doctor came back into the room. I already knew what he was going to say. The suspect: Early Onset Type 1 Diabetes.
We sat in the pediatrician’s office for what felt like an eternity as they prepped for us to head to the children’s hospital where more tests would be run. My daughters ransacked the toy bin, books scattered across the entire floor.
My head was reeling with what this could mean for her life.
While I am well aware this autoimmune disorder is completely livable, I also know it’s not without its challenges. My father has been a Type 1 Diabetic for over 40 years. So I have seen this disorder from all sides, and it’s not always rainbows and shine.
There was a room ready and waiting once we arrived at the Children’s Hospital. They did another glucose test. Her levels had gone down significantly, which didn’t quite make sense. It felt like a jigsaw puzzle with pieces missing. I was hopeful, but cautiously so. There was still the sugar in her urine to contend with.
While there, they ran a multitude of other tests, poking and prodding as tears streamed down her face. She was in a quiet, somber mood, whispering her desire to go home when it was just the two of us. As a parent it was difficult to watch.
I have a new respect for those who have to watch their children go through tests and hospital stays routinely.
The doctors and staff was so wonderful. They were patient, kind, and caring. One nurse brought me a cup of hot cocoa around 5 a.m. and spent a few minutes talking with me. It was a welcomed visit. I only slept one hour out of whole evening. So while the visit wasn’t much of a distraction, it forced me to focus on something other than my endless stream of thoughts.
I felt as though my mind was in a raging river that wouldn’t stop flowing, consistently pushing me to keep going. At one point during the evening, I realized I had my gratitude journal with me. A place where I write down five things I am grateful for, a few times a week. So I decided to pull it out, having no idea what I was going to write. But it only took a few minutes before I had five things written down and several more left unsaid.
Although it didn’t keep me from worrying, it was my bright spot, my silver lining. I tried to keep the prayers and positivity going. Yes, Type 1 Diabetes is hereditary. Yes, it can skip a generation. But, not all the pieces fit. So I held on to that and I prayed continuously throughout the night.
In the early hours of the morning light, I finally prayed for peace, no matter what the results.
I watched the morning hustle and bustle from the window. People were coming and going as the shifts began to change. Finally the results were in, or so I thought. The initial tests all came back normal. I was beyond relieved! But there were other tests that would take a week. Tests that would show her glucose levels from the last few months, to know whether she would develop type 1 diabetes.
The days to follow were met with lots of worry and doubts. She developed a runny nose and cough, so in my overly cautious state I took her back to the pediatrician’s office. Everything checked out. I felt like a sitting duck. My mind was swirling with questions. Do we cancel our vacation? Do we go? What if she gets sick?
Finally I got the call that everything was normal. It wasn’t until after I hung up the phone that I realized I could finally breathe. I didn’t realize just how much I had been holding my breath until that moment. We were lucky. She was lucky. While I always knew type 1 diabetes was a hereditary possibility, I never gave it much thought. Now as each of my children grow, the thought will always be a little too close for comfort. But for now I am going to enjoy this outcome and the rest of our summer ahead.