I just realized that I don't think I have ever shared our diagnosis story. It is much the same as the other millions of kids that have diabetes. It is different for me since it is my story, of course...
Every year the Greek church here in Houston puts on a Greek Festival! It is a great time with great food and great music! My family is Greek so it is something that I used to really enjoy doing. So, on October 4, 2007, I took my daughters to the Greek Festival with some of our friends. It was over 100 degrees, not abnormal for Houston, and it was crowded! We were listening to music and dancing like crazy. Lily, my then 3 year old, was going through sippy cup after sippy cup of water and peeing constantly...in the Port-O-Potty. Not so fun. I didn't think much of it since it was over 100 degrees, as previously stated.
So, one of my friends told me maybe I should get her checked out...maybe she has a urinary tract infection or something. I have always leaned more towards the cautious side with my kids and their health...everything organic, healthy foods, regular doctor visits, immunizations on time, etc. So, the next morning I took her to our pediatrician. I told him she had been tugging on her panties for about a week and kept complaining that she felt uncomfortable "down there." He did an external exam and sent me home. This was a Friday. The next morning, my ex and I were on our way to a birthday party and I told him about the doctor's visit the day before and my concerns that Lily may have a UTI. He made us turn around and go in at that moment so they could do a urine test. I was furious. Now, we would be late to the party. I sat in the office fuming while we waited for the results.
When the doctor came in, she closed the door quietly and sat down. She kept looking between the two of us. My heart suddenly quit beating and I couldn't breathe. She said, "Lily has high levels of glucose in her urine and you need to go straight the ER. She will probably be admitted for a few days....type 1 diabetes." That's all I heard...diabetes. My mind went straight to the pantry. How much sugar had I given her? Did I give her diabetes? I knew nothing. No one on either side of our family is diabetic and I was not familiar with this disease. My ex on the other hand was trying not to cry. I kept looking to him for that look that tells me the doctor is indeed a lunatic. No such look. He knew all about diabetes just because his dad is a doctor and he's always been interested in medicine. I was in shock and denial. I even called the woman whose birthday party we missed to nonchalantly tell her we are on our way to the ER that Lily probably has diabetes. Just like we're grocery shopping or something. Thinking clearly was not happening at this point.
He took Lily to the ER and I stayed home with Abby who was barely 2 at the time. Her sugar levels were in the 300's but they said she had no ketones so they sent her home. What the hell was a ketone? No one explained much to us. I, of course, got on the Internet and completely freaked myself out with words like stroke, kidney failure, blindness, DEATH. Eric walked in the door with Lily, had her pee on a ketone test stick, got a high reading, and walked right back out the door. Boom...like that...our lives were changed forever. The world as we knew it had ended and we started with a whole new world. Literally, overnight, the words insulin, diabetes, carbohydrates, ketones, etc. became the most used words in my vocabulary. The walls started to close in as I realized Lily couldn't just be DROPPED off at camp or school. She couldn't just GO to a playdate. She couldn't just EAT FOOD. We couldn't sleep through the night anymore...oh my God, she could DIE. I spent a couple of days panicking and then snapped out of it. This precious little girl was looking to me to stay in control and let her know that her life is still worth living...and that she was going to be fine. I may doing a lot more behind the scenes but she will have a childhood if that's the last thing on Earth I ever give her.
So, we went on with life and I privately mourned our previous life but focused on making our new life just as good. I threw myself into the diabetes world...it's all I know how to do in a crisis situation...educate myself. It is the only thing that made me feel better and more powerful against this disease...was to know it backward and forward. And now I do. And now I dedicate the majority of my life, personal and professional, to educating others and to bringing this community together. Support and education are the key to living life well with diabetes!