Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Type 1 Diabetes Invades Another Home


I was sitting in the gym early Saturday morning.  While waiting for Riley’s basketball game to start I got on Facebook on my phone.  I had a message.  When I checked it, it felt like my heart immediately sank into my stomach.  The message relayed that a girl that I’ve known all her life, a little girl the same age as Riley, was just diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.  Immediately upon reading it tears stung my eyes. 

I spent the rest of the day reliving the day Riley was diagnosed.  Little images would flash through my mind.  I thought of that morning at home, checking his sugar because I knew something just wasn’t right.  I remember gasping when the meter flashed “HI” instead of a number.  I remember running around in a fog trying to get things together to take with me.  I knew, knew deep down, what was wrong and I knew he’d be admitted to the hospital.  I remember throwing his sheets in the washer before leaving, because he had, yet again, wet them during the night.  (A sign of high sugars.)  I remember berating myself over and over for letting him have a pop tart and apple juice for breakfast. 

Saturday night, in the middle of the night, each time I got up to check Riley’s sugars, the girl and her parents would come to mind.  Each time I silently said a prayer for them.  They came to mind off and on the next day too.

Last night, I missed a phone call.  When I checked my messages I heard the voice of the girl’s grandfather.  He said he was just calling to check and see if I had the same number so he could pass it along to the girl’s mother.  I was glad he was doing that.  I am more than happy to offer support.

Again, a flood of emotions rushed in.  I kept thinking of the girl’s mother.  I kept wondering what I would say to her and if I’d even be able to say anything at all.  Every time I thought of it, I would start to cry. 

I completed some chores and then I ran a nice, hot bubble bath.  I sat in the tub as tears streamed down my face and made tunnels in the bubbles.  I ached, actually ached, for this girl and her parents.  Again, old emotions surfaced.  Emotions of guilt for not realizing Riley’s symptoms sooner.  Feelings of guilt for passing along faulty genes to him.  But, mostly, I remembered the feeling of complete and utter helplessness.  I remembered wanting to “fix” my child, my baby, and being completely helpless to do so.  I remembered crying and screaming at God to take it away from Riley and give it to me.  I remembered hour upon hour just sitting on the couch in a fog watching Riley play and run around looking for any sign of a low.  I remembered staring at the clock, consuming myself with when it would be time to check his sugar again.  I remembered chasing Riley around the house to hold him down to give him a shot.  I remembered the feelings brought up from hurting my child to help him.

When I got out of the tub I thought about writing this post.  Then, I decided maybe I should wait.  My emotions were too high and I knew it would be nothing but a downer post.  Things look and feel different in the light of a new day.  I needed to feel what I felt and I needed time to process it so I could move on. 

The thing it all comes down to is this:  Type 1 diabetes sucks.  It sucks big time.  There is no, ifs, and, or buts about it.  Once this disease invades your house, your life and the life of your child will never, ever be the same again.  Type 1 diabetes is like an uninvited house guest that no matter how hard you try to ignore will just not go away.  It comes in and changes the whole atmosphere.  It changes how and when you eat.  It changes how and when you sleep.  It doesn’t leave and give you some space to just enjoy birthdays or holidays.  Nope.  It’s always there.  Always lurking.  Always, always, always demanding attention. 

BUT, everything is going to be OK.  This girl will be OK.  She’s smart.  She’s an athlete.  She has a great support system.  Her parents will be OK.  They will learn, by trial and error, what works for their daughter. 

This girl will go on to do and be whatever she wants.  Diabetes will not stop her.  Diabetes will not define her. 

In the light of day, I see that now.  My mind knows it to be true.

Intellectually, I know that everything will be fine.  But, my Mama-heart aches.  It knows the pain and the sleepless nights.  So, while I know that life will eventually be a new normal for this family, my heart aches for all that it takes and will always take to make that new normal happen. 

17 comments:

Kelly said...

Thank goodness a new normal DOES come eventually! I too often remember the early days of Diabetes, its crazy how every minute was time consuming and full of fear wondering what peaking insulin, certain foods, exercise would do to our babies!!

And, it IS so strange how we actually ache and cry for each new child, person and family that joins us...yet at the same time we know they will be okay, happy and healthy. -Sigh- Such a very, very strange thing this Diabetes life is!! ((HUGS)) to you Penny...Im happy this new family will have you to turn to, even if there are no words that can help or make it better in the beginning!

Joanne said...

So well written... My heart also aches for each new dx I hear of. I speak at the local Children's Hospital's newly diagnosed class every month. Seeing all those faces, month after month (and knowing they hold the class every week), is so hard to see. But I always make sure to make the main point of my talk, "You WILL be okay".

Sandi said...

I read your post and this is exactly how I feel - my son was just diagnosed the beginning of January and I feel the exact same way. Thank you for such an inspirational message - we are at the beginning baby stages of this journey so right now it is hard to understand we will be okay, unfortunately, we may learn how to cope with this, but my son still will forever have diabetes.

PL said...
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Penny Ratzlaff said...

Sandi, my heart aches for you. Know that I've been where you are and I am in a MUCH better place now. My son was diagnosed over 8 years ago. While diabetes still has a seat at our table I am now able to tell it to sit down and shut up. (((hug)) to you and your family. I don't post much anymore but feel free to go back through my archives. I started blogging a few weeks after Riley's diagnosis.

prayergal said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
prayergal said...

I thought I commented on this post in your blog the first day. However being as I forgot to put my name on it as I did the last time as well, I had to redo it. I wanted to say that I am amazed at you and Riley both at how you have dealt with his battle with Type I Diabetes. You are a wonderful mother and a fine example to anyone who needs encouragement when faced with this disease. I pray every single day for a cure. I love you both! ♥ Aunt Linda

Thelma Hughes said...

Very well written. My heart also hurts for this young family; have loved them for a long time now. This little lady will be okay, she is a fighter. Just hate that their lives have been invaded by this disease. So proud of you and Riley for your handling of diabetes. Hating every moment I have watched your family fight this, I can say I am amazed and proud, watching Riley grow up to become caring, loving, and the biggest hearted little man in the world. LOVe YOU ALL!! (Penny's MOm, Riley's Grandma)

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Tim Crawford said...

From how you describe the girl, I think she will be more than fine. Also, like you said, she has a great support system. That’s all that matters. She will succeed if she doesn’t let diabetes drag her down. In fact, she can serve as an inspiration to others.

Tim Crawford @ A1Ability.com

Annette Richards said...

Reading your post brings back memories of my son that was diagnosed at one year-5 months. Always checking his sugar, counting carbs(sugars) with EVERYTHING he ate. It was hard trying to teach a toddler what diabetes was all about. My son was very young and with us too, our lives would never be the same. Back then there were no computers or internet. Thank goodness we have come along way with technology for researching information, faster sugar check machines and better insulin. I know it's hard to believe but life for a diabetic has improved tremendously. For everyone with small children or teenagers, it does get easier.

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Anonymous said...

My 13 year old son was diagnosed 10 months ago, he's very smart boy but this has bought his to startling halt. He has now dropped out of school to be taught at home for a while and will need to see a psychologist too just to get him emotions around it. I hate when people say at least he doesn't have cancer of course we wouldn't wish that on anyone but diabetes is an everyday battle for a child having to stick to the right foods and the right time to achieve this outcome and this is the rest of his life. it is also un unwanted guest in our house which I know is not going anywhere. ..

Anonymous said...

Both of my children are type 1's as well as my husband. I was just at a diabetic dinner recently and this lady next to me kept saying (like 3x's) how blessed they feel that only one of their family members have it. I was shocked beyond belief because there were others at our table who had multiple children who have it. Anyway my children were diagnosed within 5 months of each other recently and neither of them had markers that they were going to get it. I'm always amazed at how insensitive people can be. I finally couldn't take it and I'm embarrassed to say that I told her not to count her chickens before they hatch. None of us with multiple children who have it did anything wrong and for her to sit there congratulating herself for being so lucky with just one child was cruel and insensitive. Anyway I'm sorry I just have to vent. I feel for all of you that are affected by this daily.

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Aubrey Holloway said...

I do agree with you. I think more than the disease, it’s the grief and anxiety that would really bug us. Having type 1 diabetes is very unfortunate. It’s an annoying nightmare we can never get out of. The worse thing is that it can happen not only to ourselves, but to our children as well. It hurts to see them suffer at such a young age. I do hope all the best for you and Riley, though!

Aubrey Holloway @ Primary Care

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