Ariana, My Brave Princess
Editor’s Note: this piece is available in Spanish at Beyond Type 1 en Español, alongside new stories and resources published in Spanish every day!
Nicaragua – Ariana Patricia, our daughter, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes on May 2, 2015 at the age of 3. As a family, we received this news as devastating and unexpected.
A week before, she had started to complain about stomach aches, excessive thirst and frequent urination. Her kindergarten teacher said Ariana was the only child in class to have her water bottle refilled frequently (more than her classmates). As a mother, I felt something was just not right but I truly never thought it was something this wrong. I started reading, and it all indicated “diabetes,” something inconceivable in my mind.
That same week, Ariana had a respiratory infection, so we went to visit her doctor. There, I insisted Ariana had diabetes symptoms but, as it sometimes happens the doctor refused to listen. My girl was given treatment for a respiratory infection, but there were no lab tests performed, so we had no idea of what was happening.
My maternal instinct gave me a clue. Back then, my mother took care of Ariana, and she witnessed how her health was deteriorating. She insisted we should take Ariana to see a different physician and explain how badly was her health and how deteriorated she’d become.
“She tries to play but cannot stand up,” she’d said. When I heard that, we took her immediately to another doctor in Nicaragua.
That day, May 2, her pediatrician gave us the news. Our daughter’s blood sugar was 38.3 mmol/L690 mg/dL. My world fell apart. I cried and hugged my daughter. This could not be happening!
My daughter was admitted to the ICU for three days. My husband and I had to be strong even when we felt like falling apart. Ariana needed to have me by her side and needed me to be strong.
She yelled asking me to stay with her. She couldn’t understand why she was in that place and held my hand tightly so I wouldn’t leave. God is merciful and sent angels to our side, and the nurses allowed me to stay while she fell asleep.
The hospital where we stayed did not have a specialist in diabetes or pediatric endocrinologist, so it was harder for us to return home with that diagnosis. My mother-in-law got in touch with the capital’s hospital and managed to ask for my daughter’s transfer to the hospital Mascota Managua. Our story began when we got there. We didn’t know what was happening nor what we had to do. How were we supposed to handle all this? Would we be able to look out for her?
This is the only hospital in Managua Nicaragua where children and teens with type 1 diabetes are treated. This is the only hospital where there is a pediatric endocrinologist.
We had to stay there for 11 days. We had to learn to check her blood glucose, but as soon as we received her diagnosis, we started looking for information, learning, understanding and with God’s help and our family’s, we are now doing better. Sadly, our country is not the best in diabetes care; only a few organizations provide help to people with diabetes.
As Ariana’s mother, I want the best for her. I want her to have a happy life. We will do all we can so that her condition does not stop her from smiling and being happy.
We have learned that diagnosis has a huge impact on all our family. In our case, it was very difficult for all of us including Ariana’s brother, Cesar.
He was only 6 when his sister was diagnosed, and we could see suffering and confusion in him. He wondered why his sister now had this condition. We explained to him what the diagnosis meant so that he could help her and understand what she was going through.
The most challenging experiences have been hypoglycemic episodes. Especially at night. This has required everyday learning. We have to be informed, and I love reading, finding different options and looking for ways to improve my princess’ life.
I want to see a better life in all those children diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in my country. It is unfortunate to hear sad stories when I take Ariana to her doctor’s visit. I feel powerless not being able to help them and I wish to share my story so others can learn how to manage each crisis.
We always say that people have to read, inform themselves and never doubt their instincts. As mothers, we know our children more than anyone. I have learned to trust my instincts; I now know my daughter and I have come to know when she’s not feeling okay.
Ariana has been living with type 1 diabetes for five years and lives a healthy life. She loves dancing and participating in all of her school’s activities. She is a girl that smiles at life. She accepts her condition and smiles when she says, “Mom, please give me my insulin so I can have some cake.” Her smile makes me want to fight each day for her and her brother.
We are a Nicaraguan family that laughs and cries together. We also trust in God, and we know the lives of our brave little warriors are better each day. This is our story, and we share it with you. Blessings to all.