One mom shares her emotional journey.
Christina Coleman: Last week, my daughter, Brynn, was diagnosed with diabetes. I had almost missed the warning signs ... and want to share my experience with other moms so they don't do the same.
Several "things" had been going on with Brynn for the past 3-4 weeks, all of which seemed essentially unrelated:
(1) She was always complaining about being tired. Our response to this was to keep trying to get her to bed early.
(2) She was eating a lot at meals, but she was looking really skinny. We thought she was having a growth spurt, which might also explain the fatigue. We figured her little body was just burning through the calories so fast and hard that she was exhausted.
(3) She was thirsty a lot and drank a lot, and then she was having to pee a lot (from what we could see). We told her to quit drinking so much and she wouldn't have to pee so much.
(4) She seemed to have started sleepwalking, where she would get up about an hour or so after she went to bed and have to go to the bathroom, but she'd be disoriented and stumbling around, and sometimes would have trouble finding the bathroom and had a few accidents. We kept making her pee before she went to bed (we did anyway), but we figured this was caused by the fact that we'd just moved back into our newly remodeled house, since the parental websites indicated sleep disorders were often triggered by big changes. Once, though, about 1.5 weeks ago, she got up twice in one night, the second time only half an hour after the first, and I was in her room both times, I heard how much she peed both times, and I thought, how is it possible that her little body made so much pee in half an hour when she didn't drink anything?
Last weekend, we went to the 1st birthday party for my cousin's daughter, and Brynn was lethargic, and didn't want to run around and play with the other kids. It was really hot outside, so I figured maybe that was it. Or maybe she was just being grouchy.
She also looked stick-thin in her little bikini. I began to think that maybe she had a thyroid condition, which I was diagnosed with around the age of 19-20. I had been told that it was very hereditary, especially from mothers to daughters, and I'd been very fatigued as a result. We were planning on taking Brynn in to see the doctor the following week if we could get an appointment.
The very next day, with some of our other cousins, we dragged 8 kids between us to a perfect day at the beach. We had decided to go to Zuma instead of Santa Monica, and the traffic was horrific, so we spent a long time in the car. Brynn had to pee so bad she was crying, and we had to walk up to the bathroom while my husband, Bryce, was in the parking line. I actually chastised her for not peeing before we left the house.
That day, for the first time ever, I was able to see just how frequently she was going to the bathroom, because she had to ask me to either take her or watch her walk over to the bathroom. Normally she is at school, and even when we're home, she doesn't tell us every time she has to pee, so we didn't know. But we did on Sunday. She was going like every half hour. When we were leaving, we made her pee before we left, but half an hour later on the PCH, stuck in traffic, she was crying she had to go so bad, and when we pulled over and I took her to the side of the road, another torrent of pee.
When we got home, I did a search on the Internet for "frequent urination" and "fatigue" and what popped up was hyperglycemia. When I looked through the other symptoms -- big appetite, losing weight, among others -- I knew that's what she had, but I did not know for sure what that meant.
The very next morning, Monday, Bryce took her to the doctor, who confirmed my suspicions and charted her glucose at 477 (normal is about 75-120). She had also lost an alarming 10 lbs. since her checkup at the end of April, nearly 20% of her overall body weight.
Bryce was told to take her to the ER immediately, which we did, and we didn't leave until Thursday. Brynn was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes (the genetic kind, not type 2, which is caused by lifestyle factors, obesity, and/or age) and spent the first 24 hours in intensive care because she had been running hyperglycemic for long enough that she had ketones built up in her body (which I understand are essentially poisons) and, in the words of the ER doctor, "I'm not going to lie to you, she is a very sick girl."
The first few days were horrible and tough, and Bryce and I were beating ourselves up for not realizing sooner, and for actually chastising her for things that were the result of her poor little body failing her (I'm still having trouble with that last part). There is zero history of type 1 diabetes on either side of our families, so to say we were caught off guard is a gross understatement. Bryce and I alternated being wrecks, but we supported each other and kept a brave face in front of Brynn at all times. Those were the days the prayers and thoughts of friends and family helped the most, because I have never been so scared in my life or felt like a worse parent.
The good news is, with the IV and insulin drip, Brynn regained her strength and flushed out the ketones faster than expected, and only had to spend 24 hours in the ICU before she was able to be transferred to the regular pediatric ward. Every day, she had more and more energy, and we had our old Brynn back. It had come on so gradually, we had almost forgotten how vibrant and silly she used to be.
And Brave. It has been less than a week since this nightmare started for us, and Brynn is already pricking her own finger and testing her own glucose; she doesn't cry or even flinch anymore when she has to take her insulin, and she doesn't complain about anything. She said the other day, "I wish I didn't have diabetes," and I told her that if I could take it away and have diabetes instead of her, I would, but I can't. Later she said she's glad she has diabetes because now she gets treats all the time, and we had to snap her back to reality on that one too, and tell her that no, she doesn't get treats all the time. Sorry, missy! (We did find out though that we DO get to jump the lines at Disneyland and Magic Mountain, etc., from now on, as will those who are in our group, so she'll be the most popular kid in school once word gets out on that one!)
I wanted to share my experience with other moms in case your kids ever have the same symptoms. If any of you have kids with diabetes, I'd love to hear your experiences or advice. Please share them by commenting below.