Diabetes came to visit me when I was just 14. My youngest sister, Marah (then age 5) was diagnosed. As the 2nd of 7 children, it was important to learn all I could so I could help my Mom care for my sister. I learned how to give shots, treat lows, follow the meal plans. When I married and moved out, my role became more emotional than hands on. I never expected to deal with this disease on any other level. On June 13th, 2002, Marah passed away. She was 19 years old. Marah had a low blood sugar while driving and was involved in a head on collision. Marah left behind a 9 month old daughter, a husband, and our family. Diabetes had come to visit and then claimed our sweet sister as it's own.
On January 20, 2005, diabetes didn't come to visit, it had come to move in with us. Lydia, age 9, was hospitalized with DKA. We would spend a week in the hospital re-learning the ins and outs of diabetes. Lydia was and is a very strong person and took her diagnosis in stride. Mom (me) however, immediately feared loss. Lydia struggled on MDI. She had numerous scary lows, many which needed "Big Red's" assistance. "Big Red" is our name for the glucagon shot. As tough as it was to deal with this diagnosis and the daily care required, I felt I could handle it. I mean, my other three would be fine and we could focus on helping Lydia. I had never even entertained the thought of more than one child with this disease. I couldn't have been more wrong. In May of 2006, Trevor, age 5, was diagnosed with type 1 too. Trevor's diagnosis was made early so we avoided DKA and a hospital stay. Finger pokes and shots were an absolute nightmare with Trevor. Having to chase him through the house and physically restrain him was absolutely heartbreaking. Still, I thought we had a good system and we would rule diabetes. But, in January of 2007, diabetes showed us just how much it loved our family. Priscilla, age 11, was diagnosed. I have to say I went into shock. I did the things needed to care for my children but, I lived in a fog. Thankfully, I had made great friends through the diabetes connection and they were there to help me through it. The Dr's watch Chris very closely and so far, no diabetes.
The kids are all on insulin pumps now which, make things much easier. However, being the Pancreas for 3 children can be very draining and at times overwhelming. I find myself falling into deep depressions where, what should be the simplest tasks at this point become almost impossible. I will always work to give my kids the best care possible no matter what. My biggest questions are: "Why?" and "How will I ever sleep again?" I know my fellow parents of type 1's know exactly how I feel and I lean on the comfort of not having to walk this road alone. Not a day goes by that I don't wish I could take this from my kids and bear it myself. I strive to teach my kids that we rule diabetes, diabetes doesn't rule us but, in reality it seems that there are days when in fact, diabetes does win.
Today is one of those days. Reading that a sweet 13 year old girl lost her battle to this disease makes the harsh reality come to rest in my heart. The parents were diligent caregivers and yet, diabetes still won. This is a fear that I must live with the rest of my life. I will love on my babies extra today. I am sending hugs to all my fellow type 1 parents and extra hugs and prayers to Melanie, Charles, and family.