Mama’s Instinct: Recognizing T1D Through the Signs
Editor’s Note: Get involved in Beyond Type 1’s #SeeTheSigns of diabetes campaign! Share your signs to help save lives, request #SeeTheSigns posters to share in your community, get sharable graphics for social media and more! Learn more here.
I saved my daughter’s life this month.
On March 2nd, 2022, we woke up like every other morning. We ate breakfast, turned on cartoons and started to begin our day. My daughter, Everleigh, started to throw the biggest tantrum after breakfast.
I figured, “Oh this is normal. She’s about to be 1. She’s testing how far she can push us.” Then I realized that she kept putting her head down as she was throwing a tantrum, almost as if her head was hurting. The diabetic in me said, “Check her sugar.”
Being a mom is hard enough but being a mom who has type 1 diabetes is rough too. You sit there and watch your children to make sure they never have any signs of diabetes. You pray. You beg God to not put these chronic illnesses on them but sometimes it doesn’t always work out the way you want it to.
So, I checked her blood sugar. A minute passes. As I hear the beep from the Contour Next meter, I couldn’t believe my eyes.
Adding up Everleigh’s symptoms
At that moment, every symptom she was having flooded my brain. The excessive diaper changes, wetting the bed even after changing her diaper numerous times throughout the night, excessive thirst, hunger after eating an entire meal, mood changes, flushed look 24/7 and zoning out.
The meter read 27.8 mmol/L500 mg/dL across the tiny screen and my heart shattered into a million pieces. At that moment, I knew my girl would never know what it was like to lead a normal lifestyle without diabetes.
Now that doesn’t go to say she won’t ever have a normal lifestyle because this illness doesn’t define you whatsoever. I have moved mountains in the five years since my diagnosis.
But it’s the mere fact of—she will always know diabetes. She will have to take insulin before she eats while other kids are scarfing their food down without a care in the world, She will have to pay mind to her blood sugar levels while she’s playing sports while her teammates are focused on their game. She will have to check her blood sugar before bedtime at a slumber party to make sure it’s safe to close her eyes while her friends are fast asleep.
It’s the little things about diabetes that simply, suck.
Heading to the ER, knowing what was coming
When I checked her blood sugar, I was in complete distress while knowing I had to hold it together. I packed her diaper bag, put comfy clothes on her because I know the routine, barged out the door and made our way to the ER.
Somewhere in there, I called my fiancé to tell him what was going on and to meet us at the ER. He did not question me, he knew the routine too. I cried on the way over.
For me, we were rewinding back to July 27, 2017, the day I was diagnosed, and the confusion and pain hit me like a ton of bricks. I knew I was driving my daughter into what was going to be the hardest few days of her life. The IVs, the finger pricks, the insulin shots, the EKGs, the daily and nightly blood pressure checks, exhaustion and more.
I wanted to shut it all off for her. Engulf the pain she was about to endure. Soak the confusion up of why are these people hurting me and poking me. The future is usually an exciting thing but ours felt simply bleak.
When we arrived at the ER, we knew we were going to be transferred to Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston, Texas. Same place I was diagnosed.
We get to TCH via ambulance and I can see it written on every nurse and doctor’s face that she will be stuck in the ICU for quite a while. She’s 11 months old, 27.8+ mmol/L500+ mg/dL blood sugar, high blood pressure—she’s a walking question mark. How are we going to get her levels down? Do we start an insulin drip IV? How much insulin can her little body take? Why is her blood pressure so high?
Being my daughter’s superhero?
As we sat there waiting to hear good news about our girl, I had doctors and nurses coming in from all parts of the hospital congratulating me for catching and realizing the signs.
“You saved your daughter’s life, mama, great job.”
“Wow, that’s amazing you caught it now and not later on.”
“Congrats on being your daughter’s superhero.”
I was listening to them. I was. It felt great to know I did take hold of the situation before I found my daughter dead in her sleep or whatever could have happened.
But I felt resentment for myself. I knew the moment I got pregnant the risks of my baby If you have type 1 diabetes, passing T1D on to your child is not inevitable. According to current science, if you are a man with T1D, the odds of your child developing diabetes are 1 in 17. If you are a woman with T1D and your child was born before you were 25, your child’s risk is 1 in 25; if your child was born after you turned 25, your child’s risk is 1 in 100. Source: American Diabetes Associationpossibly having type 1. So did I really save her? Or did I just watch the clock run out of time and be faced with the inevitable? Who knows.
But what I do know is, my girl is alive. She’s healthy. She’s happy. She still has that shine to her despite these past five days. She will not allow this to defeat her in any way. She is strong.
She, after all, is a type 1 diabetic warrior now.
There is screening available to test for the autoantibodies of type 1 diabetes, which indicates the potential development of the disease. Learn more here.