She Was Thrown a Curveball and Hit it Out of the Park | 8 years old and Diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes

Chicago Photographer | Sharon Gaietto Photography

Being a photographer, I am hired to capture happy and joyous events in a family’s life. I also document the memorable moments in my own family’s life. Even if those memorable moments may not be the most joyous or happiest.

Tomorrow, it will be a year since I was sitting in the doctor’s office and she said, “Your daughter is diabetic.” I can’t say I was surprised, the signs were all there, but I still found myself overwhelmed with sadness. I felt responsible, like I had done something wrong. I wasn’t sure what I did, but I felt like something could have been done differently to prevent this diagnosis. The call to my husband, telling him to meet us at the emergency room, was hard to decipher at times, through the sniffling and tears. I found being strong for my daughter, at this time, was impossible.

Let’s rewind a bit, to the beginning, when we first realized something was not right. It started in October, numerous trips to the bathroom after going to bed. Once, twice, sometimes three times, we would hear the bathroom door squeak as it was closed shut. There were some nights when she didn’t make it to the bathroom and we were awoken to a request for clean bedsheets. I found myself feeling more annoyed, then concerned. I chalked it up to, too much water before bedtime. There was a well check-up coming up in November. I was going to make sure to mention something to the doctor.

Then there were other changes occurring. My 8 year old daughter was eating more then me and at times putting her dad’s appetite to shame. There were countless meals, where she asked for seconds and thirds. At times we would turn her requests down, believing she wasn’t giving her stomach enough time to let her brain now she was full. The most alarming thing about the increase in appetite, was the fact she was actually losing weight.

My mind began to wander. I began to think the worse. I know it sounds crazy, but I feared a brain tumor. Was there something going on in her brain, possibly affecting her hypothalamus? Was it cancer? Is this the reason she was losing weight? I was hoping her upcoming doctor’s appointment would answer some questions. I prayed my diagnosis was completely off the mark.

The day we went for the well check-up, we saw a resident doctor. After hearing my concerns and my daughter’s symptoms, she said that they would run some blood work and check for diabetes and any possible thyroid issues. I was concerned, but happy we would be getting some answers.  After the resident left to discuss the case with the attending doctor, they both came back to our room. The resident doctor had decided that they would hold off on the blood work. He thought that my daughter’s symptoms, may be signs of puberty. I was confused. Puberty at 8? I know children have been experiencing this earlier, compared to generations before, but I really didn’t think this was what was going on. The resident doctor did not think it could be diabetes, because my daughter said the need to urinate, frequently, was not happening at school, only at bedtime. So, we left with an appointment to come back in a month. Looking back now, I should have demanded that blood test!

About a week and half goes by and I’m in my daughter’s classroom, helping organize the classroom library. The kids are out of the classroom. In conversation, my daughter’s teacher asks me if she has a bladder problem. With a slight hesitation (knowing where this conversation is going), I say, “No. Why do you ask?” He goes on to tell me that Sydney has been using the bathroom at school, “a lot.” The last piece of the puzzle was in place. Once I got back home, I called the doctor’s office and made an appointment for the next day. I was so grateful for having a concerned teacher.

I later asked Sydney why she didn’t tell me about the frequent trips to the bathroom during school. She told me she was scared. She didn’t want to get in trouble. I told her that when it comes to her well being, telling doctors exactly what is happening to her body is the most important thing. I told her she could never get in trouble for being honest about her health.

The first thing the doctor does when we arrive for the appointment is take a urine sample. Why did’t we do this a month ago? When she returns to the room, she tells me the sample was full of glucose. She then takes a small sample of blood and runs it through a blood glucose meter. The number is 512. A normal blood glucose is anywhere from 80-120. It is then when she tells me that my daughter is diabetic.

She was admitted into the hospital on a Friday. We spent the next three days taking a crash course in learning how to care for a child with Type 1 Diabetes.

There was a lot of bracelets and necklaces made.Blog1There was plenty of computer time.

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Food on a plate was no longer just a hamburger and fries. It became 45g of carbohydrates (25g for the bun and 20g for the fries). We would never look at food the same.

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There was an unbelievable amount of gifts from family and friends, all concerned about Sydney.

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On Monday we were able to go home.

Even though I was in tears when I first got the news, we could not be more blessed. Like my husband told me on the phone, while I was a complete mess, telling him I had to bring Sydney to the emergency room because she was diabetic, “Is that it?”, he says. “We can deal with that.”

And that’s just what we are doing. We are dealing with it everyday. We have been very fortunate that controlling her diabetes has been relatively easy (we do have the occasional highs and lows) and she gives herself most of her injections. However, there are those days, when it gets tough and as parent’s we are faced with questions from a teary eyed child asking, “Why me?” It is during these times when reality sets in and I come to the realization that I have a child with diabetes and that is never going to change. This past year is only the beginning, to a lifetime with diabetes. At times it scares me, but most of the time I am thankful. I am thankful my child can receive the treatment she needs.

Checking blood sugars, counting carbs and making sure our daughter continues to be the happy, fun-loving 9 year old, we know and love, is our main objective now.

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