Friday, 7 March 2014

Living with Type One (part one) experiences of living with a child with Type One Diabetes

So back in October, I mentioned that I as going to talk about my daughter, Emilie, and all about what happened when we discovered that she was Type One Diabetic. Unfortunately, as things do, life got in the way. I have been busy promoting my debut novella Time Of Tides, posting Author Profiles of some of my other authors over at J.Ellington Ashton and generally trying to get into a good writing habit so that I can help advance my career.

I apologise, but now, hopefully, I fully intend to make up for that lapse.

Last year I turned 40. Yes, the big 4-0! Something of a milestone as I think you will agree. 
True to form, and both because I am a miserable git and because we were a little short of money, I decided not to really celebrate.In hindsight, that turned out to be a very good idea.
Because I ended up spending it in the hospital is why!

We'd noticed for a while that Emilie as losing weight and a few friends and family had (helpfully?) pointed it out to us that there wasn't a lot to her. We just thought she was going through a growth spurt. She was 6, kids do that. 
Mum expressed concern because she drank a lot. She did that. She always drank a lot. It was nothing unusual. 
Emilie was tired, literally exhausted after school. We figured she'd just gone back after six weeks off during the summer holidays, she was just finding it hard to adjust to busy days at school again.

Do you see what we were doing? We were rationalizing the changes we were seeing. We were convincing ourselves there was nothing wrong, and there wasn't. Not to our eyes. It was all very normal behaviour. Apart from the weight loss. That, I admit, I was a little concerned about.

We talked about it, me and Mrs.Sparky. We discussed it. We decided to take Emilie to the Doctors and booked her in for the following Tuesday. At the very least it would shut mum up who had come back off holiday and phoned to see if Emilie was alright because she hadn't been able to stop thinking about her and was concerned. 

(This is an example of a finger prick test that we have to do BEFORE every meal.)

And that is the problem. If you live with a child everyday, see him or her constantly,then sometimes Diabetes can sneak up on you. The signs can be there, but you can choose to ignore them. Because YOU DON'T THINK ANYTHING IS WRONG. 

The very day we'd decided to get Emilie checked out, we got a phone call. It was a Friday, just before the weekend. It was Emilie's teacher, Mrs.Peachment. She was concerned too. All she would say over the phone was that it was nothing to worry about but that she wanted to talk to us. She didn't want to leave it until after the weekend.
Me and Mrs.Sparky, scared what she might say, headed down there as soon as we could. We hoped it was about the weight loss. That we knew about. That we were about to deal with. The scariest thought was that she might want to talk to us about something else, something we hadn't noticed yet or hadn't picked up on. That didn't bear thinking about.

As we entered the school, we handed over the date of Emilie's Doctor appointment. Mrs.Peachment noticed and asked if we knew already what it was she wanted to talk about. We told her we had some concerns and we thought they might be one and the same. Emilie's teacher took us into a back office. 

It turned out that it wasn't just the weight loss. Emilie had been nearly dozing off sitting on the carpet listening to the teacher. She had also been breathless during P.E (before exercise) to the point that Mrs.Peachment had asked Emilie if she had an inhaler. This despite the fact she was sure Emilie didn't.
Emilie's teacher was worried and seemed almost relieved when we told her we had seen the weight loss already and were getting Ems checked out, but she urged us, as subtly as she could, not to wait until after the weekend.

Me and Mrs.Sparky walked out of there and went straight down the surgery.
"Is it urgent? We are only taking emergency appointments." The Receptionist told us curtly.
I explained the situation and that Emilie had been breathless.
"If she's breathless, you should call 999," the Receptionist told us. I explained politely that she wasn't breathless now but that the school were refusing to allow her to do any more P.E until she was checked out.
"If you won't give us an appointment, we're going down the walk-in centre," I told her.
Magical words. What a surprise, they got us in!

The Doctor checked Emilie over and was puzzled. Then I mentioned Mrs.Sparky's mum is Type 2 Diabetic. They decided to give her a finger prick test.
A second later, they booked us in the Jenny Lind Chrildrens Department at the local hospital and told us to get down there!

Emilie was in hospital for several days. It was not pleasant but, thankfully, she was soon somewhat on the mend. She was diagnosed Type One Diabetic and prescribed Insulin. From now on, she would have to take that via injection for the rest of her life. 

In some ways, we were relieved. What Emilie had was treatable. She was going to be okay. 

What we didn't realise (or at least I didn't) was how much that might mean.

I will go into more detail in a later post, but suffice to say the last few months have been hard.
Every meal has to have its carb count counted. We have to work out how much insulin to give Emilie 4 times a day AT LEAST and work out how many grams of carbohydrate are in EVERYTHING.The injections are once for every meal and one before bed to see her through the night. If she gets ill, her blood sugar goes mental. If she gets stressed, her blood sugar goes mental. If she does exercise or rides her bike, we have to monitor her bloods. It is hard. But we are getting there.

My only thanks are that Mrs.Peachment and the other teachers at the school noticed something was wrong! Although we had intended to take Emilie to the Doctors, we had no idea how bad the situation was. Since Emilie has been back, the school has been amazing with injections and all as well. We really are very fortunate to have her at that school and I have made a point of writing and telling them that so they have something to show in writing the Governers and Offstead when they do their rounds.

Why am I writing this Blog post?

Because I want other people to be aware.

The blood test for Diabetes is simple. It takes 5 mins if that. Hell, it takes 2 minutes. The Doctor or Nurse pricks your finger, takes a single drop and puts it in a reader which gives them your blood sugar level. The safe level is 8-10. Significantly higher or lower and you need to take action!

These were the symptoms Emilie first showed:  

1) Increased thirst - always drinking lots of fluids or always wanting a drink

2) Tiredness - easily exhausted and way more tired than was normal.

3) Loss of weight - far more than you might expect. You could see Emilie's bones showing on her body.

Please, please, please if your child is showing all these symptoms, please get them checked out. It won't take long and the sooner you get it sorted, the sooner your child can start to get better. Don't leave it too late.

There is not enough awareness of Type One Diabetes out there. Hopefully if you like and share this post, we can start to get a little more out there.

More soon...

Here are some useful links for more information:

1 comment:

POW16783 said...

That's made me cry :( So pleased you got things sorted and it must be so hard to be constantly checking, counting and testing.

I have virtually known Emilie since she was born, I remember particularly as Jo was visiting here in France and we chose a present for little Em's together.
Bon chance petit famille Sparks and keep up the good work with writing et al.