Seeing as how it's Diabetes Awareness Month, I thought I would share a little bit about the days leading up to Emma's diagnosis.
In April 2008, Emma, my Mom, and I all went to Disney World for a little family vacation. Emma was only four years old, but beyond excited to go. I mean, it's Disney World...the home of all her favorite characters...Minnie and Mickey...the princesses...Lilo and Stitch. I remember the day we arrived, sitting next to Emma as we watched the parade come down Main Street at Magic Kingdom. It was incredible, this was her very first parade experience! I snapped a picture of her face to capture the moment forever....the look of awe in her eyes...the huge smile on her face...wait....the pale skin...the dark circles under her eyes? I noticed it, but I thought to myself that maybe she was just tired...jet lagged...overwhelmed from the excitement of where she was and what she was seeing.
The next morning I took a picture of her and my Mom as we headed to breakfast. Again...I noticed the pale skin...the dark circles...the slow steps...slow even for a four year old. She wasnt jumping and running. She wasnt squealing and talking a mile a minute showing her excitement. She was quiet...sleepy looking. Again, I attributed it to jet lag.
Fast forward to the beginning of June 2008. Emma began asking for cup after cup of water...especially at bedtime. I remember getting irritated thinking that she was just trying to prolong her time of being awake. She began to wet the bed again. I had no idea why...she had been fully potty trained for a good 2 years at that point. I thought it must have been from all the water she had been drinking. It was summer...it was hot...I figured she was just drinking more water than normal because of the weather.
One night I remember bringing Emma's little Dora sippy cup up to bed. I held it in my hand and told her that was all she was getting...one cup was enough...so she shouldn't chug it like she had been doing the night before. Let me be honest here.....I yelled at her. I yelled in the way only a Mom can yell....I yelled at my child to stop chugging her water.....because I was tired of changing her sheets so much and her mattress was going to be ruined. I yelled because I was frustrated at having to continuously run upstairs to her room to refill her Dora sippy cup. I yelled because I was irritated and I thought it was some sort of four year old behaviour thing.
I have since apologized for yelling....but the guilt I carry around from that will never leave me. She wanted all that water because there was too much sugar in her blood....because her pancreas had shut down...and I had no idea....I never knew the signs or symptoms of diabetes.
I yelled....and I will never forget that.
That night, I changed Emma's bed sheets three times in a two hour period. It honestly looked like she had dumped a pail of water on her bed every time. I remember laying her sleeping body on the bedroom floor and changing her and putting a blanket over her as I cleaned her bed and put fresh sheets on for the third time. I stood there crying....because I knew something was wrong...I knew that my Mom was right. I had been sharing the recent drinking and peeing situation with my Mom on the phone the day before and she told me that those were signs of diabetes. As I stood there in the wee hours of the morning that night before she was diagnosed, I cried...because I knew she was right.
I'm lucky I didn't lose my daughter that night. I'm lucky my ignorance didn't result in her death.
So, please....know the signs...share them with others so that they know. You could save a life.
Fruity smelling breath
Dark circles under eyes