Watching Siblings Like a Hawk

My T1 daughter was diagnosed just shy of 23 months old. Her symptoms started just after she turned 22 months old and while I realize she was little, I didn't truly think about HOW little until my other daughter turned 22 months old. I look at this little body and can't imagine doing all the things we had to do for our other daughter. Perhaps its because we HAD to do them no matter what? Maybe I stuffed my guilt far enough down that 2 years later I've mentally put a block on the worst of it?

But then I start thinking....my other daughter is now at the age my first daughter was when she was diagnosed. Has the waiting game started? Is it only a matter of time before she becomes diabetic as well? It was almost a mini-mourning session again for me as my 2nd daughter turned 22 months old. This past month the thought continually runs through my mind, what if? What if my other daughter is diagnosed soon?

In some ways, watching my second grow up will be a lot of firsts for me. She already is speaking 15x more than my first daughter did at this age, simply because she's had the glucose available for learning new things. So far, she won't have to worry about extra potty breaks, needles, soaking her bed, sleepovers, babysitters, carb counting, eating foods in the best order for minimizing blood sugar spikes, waiting for food until insulin peak time matches, cannulas, Dexcom alerts, school issues, etc. She is young and carefree and in her I get to experience parenting a young and carefree child.

Yet, there are a lot of emotions when I think about my second daughter:
  • Happiness, because (right now) I don't have to worry about her dealing with the multitude of issues that come with daily diabetes care, both for her sake and mine. I know that when she gets sick, it isn't potentially life-threatening. I know the medical expenses aren't going to add up every single year, that I can send her to school and not worry about her. If I needed to, I could find a daycare who would accept her easily, or find a babysitter for her without an in-depth training session first.
  • Guilt, in part because of my happiness. I feel guilty for feeling so happy that I have a "normal" child without special needs. Diabetes is just.so.hard., and I need a respite sometimes. But to get that respite in the form of a child of mine that doesn't require 24/7 care? G.U.I.L.T.  I feel like I will be slapped any moment with a crimson letter to wear for feeling these traitorous thoughts. I love my T1D child. I love every little piece of her. A diagnosis would never change that. But does that mean I don't wish she never had it? What parent would ever choose this for their child? Every parent awaits that day our children will be cured.
  • Fear. Oh the fear. This is the part that has me questioning everything. Did she just ask for extra juice/water? Is that a diaper rash? Does her diaper feel extra soaked this morning? Is she getting sick? (IE: Did the trigger event happen?). Maybe I should just check her blood just in case. An 84 for fasting, score!!! (Back to happiness, then guilt). But I will continue to Watch.Her.Like.a.Hawk. Always.
  • Hope, there is always, always the hope that she will not be part of the statistic that shows an increased risk for siblings of a T1 child to also be diagnosed with it. Most parents hope for many things for their children, but having their top hope be that their child doesn't receive a life-long disability generally isn't one of them. In our house though, this is an actual thing. I HOPE with every piece of my being, that she doesn't have to go through what her sister does. I can't protect her from it, I can't stop it from happening, but I can certainly carry hope that she'll never get it.
  • Empathy, for my T1D who now has a little sister who is different than her. She will watch her sister not receive the pump changes, Dexcom sites, finger pricks, or have to count (or wait for) her food. The diabetes stigma won't be there and she won't have to sit on the sidelines waiting for a blood sugar to come up or go home early because she has ketones. I also feel empathy for my non-diabetic child, because of the attention that is bestowed on my T1D. I already feel badly how much attention my husband gave our first born vs. our second. My daughter was diagnosed when I was pregnant, so my husband made it his mission to shower our first with all his attention while I nursed and cared for the newborn. Except now my youngest is nearly 2, and my first still gets the lions share of the attention. It's not on purpose. Think about how they always say that the first will have a million pictures taken of them, while the subsequent children are lucky to have a single album. It's so true but add to that a medical diagnosis that forces you to focus on medical care 4-8x per day for one and not the other, and the attention (even if it's not all daisy-chains and sunshine) starts to stack up unevenly. We are aware and try to make it right, but there is a reason a lot of d-parents are referred to as helicopter parents to our d-children.
So for now I will continue feeling this way, who knows for how long. I'm resigned to the fact that it could happen, and my other daughter could be diagnosed. We are finished having children, in part because T1D is as time consuming and expensive as having a third. Right now 50% of my children have special needs and all it takes is one more diagnosis to jump to 100%. I am going to actively try to not think about this everyday or every week, but I know myself and will be grabbing that meter whenever there is a possible symptom. To all the parents with more than one diabetic, I SALUTE you. R-E-S-P-E-C-T. But I hope that I never, ever join your ranks (just as I know that you hope I never do either).


The Worst Kind of Post

This past weekend was a major blow to the Type 1 Diabetes Community. We lost two little kids to complications from undiagnosed type 1 diabetes. One was Kycie Terry, 5, who suffered a traumatic brain injury due to brain swelling from DKA (Diabetic Ketoacidosis) in January 2015 and succumbed to complications on July 11, 2015. A day later, we learned of David Brown, 4, whose DKA case was too advanced and he succumbed within days of initial diagnosis.
Unfortunately, these two cases are just the latest in a long line of undiagnosed children becoming casualties due to a lack of awareness of Type 1 Diabetes symptoms, and a tendency for doctors to avoid looking for the "zebra" amongst the horses (flu, bladder infection, viral infections, stomach viruses, asthma, sinus infections, UTI's, dehydration, anxiety). Here is a video from the parents of Rocco Kuehl, a Florida boy who had just celebrated his 1st birthday. His parents have set up a charity Drive for Diabetes Awareness in his honor to raise awareness of type 1 diabetes. It is heartbreaking to hear these preventable stories.

Something has to give. Over 1.25 million Americans live with Type 1 diabetes, and the rates are growing at a staggering percentage. There is no known cause or cure. Type 1 diabetes is too often a "silent killer" of not only youths, but also adults. This is not type 2 diabetes, and this is not something to laugh about.
How is it possible that so many people are still dying in a first-world country from a condition that can be diagnosed for pennies??  Doctors will swab for sore throats, urine is collected for UTI's, ears are checked for possible ear infections. Why are we not checking glucose with a single drop of blood or a urine dipstick for kids who present with these symptoms? Flu-like symptoms in diabetics means they are already progressing into a dangerous complication, known as Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA). DKA has symptoms such as breathing issues, fruity smell to their breath, vomiting, stomach pains, dry mouth, in addition to the classic diabetes symptoms of excessive urination (frequently shows as bed wetting in younger children), extreme thirst, sudden weight loss, extreme tiredness/lethargy, increased appetite (although can also present as decreased appetite).  Don't guess, CHECK!!

This is an Infographic that can be saved as an image, printed and distributed to your
local pediatrician's office(s), clinics, waiting rooms, etc. Spread awareness and save lives!

This is an Infographic that can be saved as an image, printed and distributed to your
local pediatrician's office(s), clinics, waiting rooms, etc. Spread awareness and save lives!

For more information on DKA prevention and more posters available for download, visit www.testonedrop.org