Sunday, March 25, 2012

Remembering D-Day

Normally, I really enjoy reading other blogs, they make me laugh, cry, and sometimes even inspire me with new ideas to write my own. Last night was no exception, thankfully I had a box of tissue and a  few hours to spare when I sat down to start reading. My usual blogs of choice contain recipes, family photos, and current events, but last night, something caught my eye. A fellow mom of a diabetic had updated her blog after a few months, and I was curious to see what new obstacles life had thrown at them, and how they handled the unexpected.

As I read one writer's post about the diagnosis of her daughter, it reminded me about the day Laila was officially diagnosed. I can remember exactly what she was wearing, what I packed for her to eat at school that day for lunch, where I was standing when I heard the news, and how my heart sank to my stomach when the doctor told me to sit down. My initial response was feeling like my entire world was over, I knew she would never be free of this disease and it took only seconds to truly sink in the severity of what was happening to her at that very moment. It all made sense, it added up so clearly: the extreme thirst, the excess fatigue, the weight loss, lack of appetite-every single symptom, she had them all. How could I have let this go on for as long as I did? I can still picture her thin bones and sunken eyes. It took a hold of her so fast, it was literally an overnight transformation from my smiling little girl to someone I could hardly recognize.

It was a Thursday night when I mentioned to Dustin I thought something was wrong. We debated taking Laila to the emergency room, what we thought it was, and what we may be able to do to help her before taking her into the doctor. By Monday morning, things were looking so bad I kept her home from school. She was literally wilting away before my eyes, and I felt solely responsible. After a handful of blood tests and some cream for her dry, cracked hands, we were well on our way home. The very next day when my phone rang, I knew the results were in. Rush her to the children's hospital? Pack her a bag? Find a sitter? I was dizzy in my own thoughts, I didn't know where to begin. Dustin picked up Laila from school and drove her into Phoenix, and I made arrangements for Kenadi and Dustin Jr.

Walking into the hospital to find Laila in a hospital bed with tubes in her arm was extremely difficult. I painted on a smile and unloaded my things. I brought a coloring book, markers, crayons, puzzles, music, and even her favorite stuffed animal; I took along anything I could think of that would help this awful transition go just a tiny bit smoother. Seeing her there made it so final, so serious, so real. Once a room was available, Laila was admitted to PICU (pediatric intensive care unit), and our diabetic journey began. Hourly blood sugar checks ensued until her blood glucose had dropped low enough on its own for her to be able to eat and adapt to insulin injections. Holding her still so the nurse could check her sugar,  it was grueling. Her screams pierced my ears, while her tears broke my heart.

The "diabetes bible" the nursing staff armed us with was easily four inches thick, full of information, statistics, and terrifying facts. I felt as though I'd never be able to take Laila home and feel confident enough to care for her, I immediately programmed the hospital's phone number into my phone, and started asking questions. I knew the road ahead of us was going to be a long one, I better jump on board and set the bar high. Each meal was a learning process, how to count the carbohydrates for each item on her plate, how to calculate her blood sugar corrections, and how to determine how much insulin to administer. We learned how to "draw up", using a syringe and bottle of insulin, and I gave Laila her very first butt shot. It took two people to hold her down, and one to hold my arm still, I still don't know who cried harder, Laila or me.

Having to leave her in the hospital for four nights in a row was one of the hardest things I've ever faced. Trusting the doctors, nurses, and my husband to care for her, it ripped at my heart. I cried to myself on the drive home each night, I went to sleep and cried some more. I wallowed in my sorrows of my life and how it had changed, and how this was going to shape her every day, her entire future. Each night was worse than the one before as images of the life she'd never have flashed before my eyes.

It has now been 18 months since Laila's diagnosis, and I'm proud to be the mother of a type 1 diabetic. The things I've learned about Laila, myself, my husband, our marriage and family don't even compare to the fears I felt that dreaded day. We all have bad days, sorrowful times that remind us where we've been, and what's in store for us, but without those days, the good days wouldn't be as important. Every once in a while, I find myself reaching into the back of Laila's closet and pulling out her purple plaid shirt. I take it down, hold it in my hands, and remember that day. She has long grown out of that shirt, but I still can picture a time when it hung so loosely on her. The days of syringes are long behind us, as we have been "pumping" for 6 solid months. For Laila, school is going great, dance class is a blast, and weekends are always packed full of fun. Life these days is pretty amazing, even with type 1 diabetes. For me, life is as busy as ever, so busy sometimes I even forget about that dreaded day. Lucky for me, I kept that gorgeous purple shirt, it's just the reminder I need.

1 comment:

  1. Joli, I remember the day I heard the news about sweet Laila. My heart sunk, I eyes melted, and I felt so much sorrow for this little girl I have never met. You have been so incredibly strong through Laila's journey thus far, and you have many many MANY more years of "weekends packed full of fun." Stay focused on the good times.

    LOVE YOU JOLI! Give that little ball of strength hugs for me (oh, and ask her to hug YOU back for me too).


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