Monday, August 11, 2008

The Honeymoon is Over

The honeymoon is over is over for my sweet 3 year old. She was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes on March 23 of this year- Easter Sunday. Until now, her blood sugar has remained steady and manageable, most days, only getting one injection of insulin at breakfast time. The last few weeks, we have seen a dramatic rise in her blood sugar at lunch time and in the afternoon. We knew it would happen, but hoped her honeymoon stage would last longer. Yesterday, I gave her the first lunch time injection. It brought tremendous sadness to me as I realized that as she grows and gets older, the more insulin she will have to take and the harder it may be to manage this chronic disease.
Jada is our fourth child- the baby of the family. The most strong-willed one of them all. She has infectious laughter and loves to cuddle. Her nickname, given to her at birth, is Baby Boo. We still call her Baby Boo, Jada Boo or Jada Baby Boo. Her various cousins have made up their own versions of her name. She is a mama's girl and loves to play with my hair- it's her '"security blanket" of sorts. And of course, she is a Princess. She loves to play dress up and often calls herself, "Sally the Princess from the Land of the Slippers". She made that up herself and I have no idea where she got it from, other than her own fertile imagination.
Our journey with Type 1 Diabetes is much the same as others I have met. Jada was presenting symptoms several weeks before she got seriously ill and of course, I had no clue. I wondered about some of her behaviors and even mentioned them to others, but still just chalked it up to the varying behaviors that toddlers have. She was constantly asking for a drink, waking up at night to go to the bathroom, soaking through her pullups when she couldn't make it to the bathroom. Hindsight is 20/20. If I had known what to watch for, she wouldn't have ended up in critical condition.
A week or so before Easter, our family got the flu. Not just a stomach virus- but the real thing. Fever lasting several days, body aches- some vomiting, but that wasn't the main thing. I thought Jada had escaped it, but on Good Friday, she woke up with a fever. She slept most of they day and I prepared for a few days of illness with her. On Saturday, she just looked bad and I thought maybe she was at the peak of the flu. However, Saturday night, she began to breathe quite heavily. At first, I thought it was just the flu. Kids tend to be heavy breathers when they have a fever. She threw up twice during the night and I began to wonder if there was more going on. So now, it's Easter Sunday morning. Jada's siblings are gathering their jelly beans and Jada won't even sit up and her breathing is getting heavier. We decide to take her to an Urgent Care center and when we arrive, they sent us on to the ER. Now- if any of you have ever had a critically ill child, you know the feelings I was having. Scared- out of control and just wanting them to fix my baby and send us home. Tell me that she's going to be ok. The ER nurses knew almost immediately what was wrong. They could tell by the way she smelled- kind of a fruity smell- from the toxins being emitted inside her body. Jada was in Diabetic Ketoacidosis. Ok - I thought- she's diabetic. They'll admit her to the hospital, spend a few days, we'll learn about diabetes and go home. NO. She had to be transported to Texas Children's Hospital by ambulance. I couldn't get my mind around the fact that she was in critical condition. At this point, she was beginning to go in and out of conciousness and her hands were becoming very rigid. The Kangaroo Crew (the pediatric ambulance crew from Texas Children's) arrived with in about an hour of us being in the ER and not only took care of her, but began to provide tremendous emotional support to me. It took us about 45 minutes driving from Katy to downtown Houston. They took her to the pediatric ICU and all this time- I'm still not comprehending how serious this is. When I finally saw her in that big bed, hooked up to i.v.'s and oxygen, it began to sink in. We were on the verge of losing her.
I called my husband, who had taken the other kids home, and he was dumbfounded when I told him that she was in Intensive Care. Neither of us had realized the gravity of the situation. It was a long night in ICU, but she began to respond to the insulin they were giving her, but she was still quite toxic. Because her body could not burn sugar, it was burning fat for energy and when that fat is burned, it gives off an acid called ketones and the only way for the body to dispel of them is through urine and through breathing- why she smelled "fruity". Think of fingernail polish remover- that' s what her breath smelled like. Insulin also takes care of ketones, so gradually, her ketones began to improve. She had the flu on top of it, so she was one sick little girl.
We spent four and a half days in the hospital and got a good education on diabetes. Texas Children's hospital is an amazing place! I am grateful for the care Jada received and how they came around our family during this crisis.
I look back at our time in the hospital and often wonder how I made it through that week without falling apart. God had us in His hand that whole week- and still does. He knew from the moment that Jada was conceived and before, that diabetes was to be part of her life. I have often found myself wondering why her? Why our family? I do believe that God brings things to our life to help and comfort others. I take great comfort in knowing Who is in control of this life I live and Who holds my daughter in His hands. I trust Him completely with her.
So- the honeymoon I was speaking of is over. The honeymoon phase happens when the pancreas begins to work again temporarily because of the help it is receiving from the insulin she takes. Evidently, her body has finally killed of those last remaining cells. It is full on diabetes from here on iout. But that's ok. I knew the honeymoon wouldn't last and we will meet it head on- full speed ahead. My Baby Boo will be ok and my heart will probably always hurt for her because of the challenges she may face, but I will be ok, too. I will have my moments of panic, and My Father will take me through it all once again- reminding me of Who holds our hands and guides us through those dark times.