A couple of weeks ago, I received a text that I never thought I would have received. My sister in law texted me, “her blood sugar is over 400, we are taking her to the ER now.” My initial response was….”wait, what??!!!??”
My 6 year old niece (who we will call S), who did not have diabetes, was being taken to the ER after going to the doctor and her blood sugar was tested at over 400.
My heart just absolutely sank. I didn’t even know what to think at first because I definitely was not expecting anything like this to happen.
As I was texting my sister in law back to try and figure out what the hell was going on, my brother called me and I could tell the hurt, fear, and sadness in his voice. After telling me that S was going to the hospital, his very first question was, “what does this mean? Does this mean she can be normal and still live a normal life and do things normal kids do?”
I am sure this is a very common question amongst parents of newly diagnosed, but as someone who blogs about living a normal life with diabetes, my answer was obviously…. absolutely she can! She can continue to do girl scouts and dance and whatever else she wants to do.
The first day or two was filled with questions and phone calls from my brother and sister in law wondering about what her life is going to be like from here on out. Being someone with diabetes, I realized, it is a lot easier to talk to someone else who has diabetes as opposed to trying to talk to a parent of a newly diagnosed child.
To add to this, she was diagnosed on a Friday and her birthday was the following Tuesday and her birthday party was that upcoming Sunday. Unfortunately, her birthday party had to be cancelled and she missed out on Trick or Treating, so try explaining that to a child as well.
After I was able to collect my thoughts as an uncle, my advocate side of me jumped right in. I wanted to make sure that they have the best information possible from the best people, so I just started texting my brother Facebook groups, blog URL’s, books, people’s phone numbers, etc. I just wanted them to feel as safe and comforting as possible.
And obviously there were plenty of people that stepped up right away and provided information about how to handle their feelings, how to create a 504 plan, how to handle 3 a.m. blood sugar checks, how to parent a child with type 1 diabetes, etc.
So, let’s jump forward almost a month to now.
My niece is doing freaking awesome! She went from being absolutely petrified of her shots (she asked mommy why she was hurting her with the needle) and she is now testing her own blood sugar and giving herself shots by herself (with a little help from mommy and daddy). But to hear about this turnaround is amazing to me, especially in such a short amount of time.
My niece’s favorite color has been blue for as long as I can remember, so when I told my sister in law that Blue is the diabetes color, S was elated. I then told her about Blue Friday’s and how it’s important to wear blue and spread awareness for diabetes on Friday’s. After that, S wanted blue shoes, blue shirts, blue hats, blue everything.
In fact, on World Diabetes Day, which just so happened to be her re-scheduled birthday party that she missed when she was in the hospital, my brother, sister in law, 2 nieces and nephew all wore blue to the birthday party. The two girls also decided to use the Novo Nordisk #LaceUp4Diabetes shoelaces as hair ties to rock even more blue.
Is it just a coincidence too that her favorite animal was already a Unicorn? And now she loves Unicorns even more just like everyone else in the diabetes community.
As I try to explain to my brother that yes, a diagnosis sucks, but in today’s world and the technology that we have and the community of support that is provided within the Diabetes Community, if there had to be a chronic disease that she was diagnosed with, at least it was diabetes. I know that may not sound good, but it could have always been worse.
Now, they are already gearing up for a Dexcom training and are already exploring the different options for insulin pumps. My brother and sister in law are lurking now in all the Facebook groups and Children with Diabetes forums and my sister in law even created a Twitter account because they want to learn and want to participate.
I want to thank everyone that gave a helping hand when I reached out for help. Some of you may not even know that you helped, but either a book or post that you wrote did. Please know that I am forever grateful for what you did in a time when my family needed you most.
Moving forward, my niece LOVES arts and crafts, so I have already shared some ideas of things that they can do that gives a positive outlook on her diabetes and doesn’t make her hate the disease and hate having to do what she needs to do in order to manage it.
I would love if you could please comment below or on Facebook different activities (using insulin vials as Christmas lights, Diabetes Art Day, etc.) that my sister in law can do with her that would be awesome. Also, any resources that you may have, for example, Children with Diabetes forums, Kids First Diabetes Second book, etc. please list them all below in the comments. My sister in law and brother will be reading this, so I hope to share with them plenty of additional information that I haven’t been able to share.