**This month I'm re-posting our experiences with our daughter when she was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes back in 2009. This article was originally posted in June of that year.**
So here we were in the ER in February with our nearly 9 year old daughter, who had just been diagnosed with Type I Diabetes. We knew we would have to wait right along with all the other "emergencies", and man, was that tough!! I think it was then that I, as Mom, started walking through all those dreadful feelings you have to go through when you grieve the loss of something.....albeit, I didn't completely know everything I was losing.
I was pretty confident that our daughter's stay in the hospital wasn't going to be too painful for her because we already knew what she was there for. No tests, MRI's, CAT scans, or surgery to have to worry about. And how difficult could it be to give insulin shots?
It's definitely the grace of God that we are not given all the information for a particular situation we are going through all at once. I wouldn't have been able to handle it all.
It was OVERWHELMING!!
The only information I had about Diabetes was that associated
with Type II Diabetes, typically diagnosed in adults.
What we learned is that Type I Diabetes is a completely different disease all together.
Although the care and management of Type I looks similar to Type II,
the underlying philosophy behind it is different.
Type II is a metabolic disorder, one where your body still produces the insulin but just can't utilize it properly. You have the hope that it can be controlled or even reversed somewhat by changing your diet, losing weight, or using some medication.
You may have to take insulin (the hormone produced by your pancreas that controls the sugar levels in your bloodstream), or you may not.
In Type 1, you have complete organ failure. Your pancreas completely stops producing insulin and will never produce it again.
So you will always have to take insulin to stay alive...for the rest of your life.
Here is where the loss comes in.
The loss of being able to eat what you want, when you want, and in the amounts you choose, and the times you choose!
How crazy is that for a child???
In either Type I or Type II Diabetes, you all-of-a-sudden have all these boundaries
placed around your food.
Do you know the love affair that Americans have with their food?
(Though Diabetes is in nearly every country around the world, I'm speaking from the frame of reference of being American. I'm truly thankful that we live in America because many children DIE from this disease in other countries because of a lack of education, supplies, and access to any health care.)
So we're learning to adjust and accept.
Now, it's an issue for our family whenever there is a church fellowship time.
Most of these fun events are after the evening service on Sunday, and all of them involve
food. So we have to decide, do we all go, and hope there is something there that fits in her meal plan, or do we have some cake while she just sits there and watches us?
Do we remember to bring something so she can eat something then on top of what we've ALREADY had to bring along for her dinnertime that was just before the service? It takes an ENORMOUS amount of energy, planning, and MATH!!
What about going out to eat?
We were given tools and information to know how to maneuver such situations,
but we still have to count carbs, and give shots before the meal.
Right there in front of everybody. We could do this in the bathroom....(ewww)...or the car, but there is a time issue involved with the insulin. She needs to eat within 15 minutes of receiving the shot. Will she have her food in front of her in that amount of time?
Have you noticed that most birthday parties are not at exact meal times. They are usually like 1 or 2 in the afternoon. Sometimes at 7pm in the evening. And they always have cake and ice cream. More planning, more adjusting our meal schedules, more checking
to make sure we have all our supplies. We have forgotten to put the insulin in the bag (even though we double check to make sure all the other supplies are stocked) and had to drive an hour round trip to go get it.
Right now Ashlyn needs to have 50-55 carbohydrates per meal.
That is based on her weight and energy needs right now. We've learned that carbohydrates break down into sugar in your body and that is what Ashlyn cannot metabolize because she doesn't have the insulin which does that work. So we add insulin. We add the insulin (Humalog) via a syringe to "cover" the carbs she eats at meals.
Then, at bedtime she gets another kind of insulin (Lantus) that acts like a "base" insulin to cover any changes in her sugar levels throughout the day not related to food, i.e., stress, changes in outside temperature, changes in diet, exercise, etc. The insulins can't be mixed up. They must be refrigerated, and the amounts given are based on her blood glucose readings and the amount of carbs she eats.
Do you know much carbohydrate is in a peanut butter sandwich? How about a piece of birthday cake or an apple? We didn't either....but we do now. We still don't know everything and never will.....we will always be learning, counting, adjusting.
In fact, we're still in just the "kindergarten" phase (as I like to call it) of diabetic education.
We're still just giving shots based on how many carbs she eats and what her blood sugar reading was. We are soon to transition to something called "insulin-to-carb ratios". It's supposed to give us more freedom in when she eats, and the amounts she eats, but it's still complicated and lots MORE math!!
See, through all of this I have learned even more, how completely amazing the human body is.
In a normal functioning body, your pancreas can regulate just the exact amount of insulin
you need for the slightest little changes to keep everything regulated properly. It's like a thermostat. You don't have to think about it, it just happens. You don't even know how extremely awesome it is until you're without it. I'm going to put in a shameless plug here:
I still don't know how anyone who has ANYTHING to do with studying the human body can possibly believe that with all it's highly delicate intricacies and super complicated functions can honestly believe that humans HAPPENED to evolve to what we are today without an Intelligent Designer!!!!! There is just no way, even scientifically, that humans, with all
the number and variety of highly developed systems of the body could possibly have just "popped" into existence. What peace I have in knowing that my Heavenly Father (God) lovingly formed and purposefully made me and every human with a specific plan in mind.
"I will praise thee; for I am Fearfully and Wonderfully made, marvelous are thy (God's) works, and that
my soul knoweth right well.
My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought
in the lowest parts of the earth.
Thine eyes did see my substance,
yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members are written,
which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.
How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum
of them." Psalm 139:14-17 (KJV)