I've been avoiding you. We're coming up on Lily's one-year anniversary of being diagnosed and I know I need to write down the story of that awful day. But I don't want to think about it. I don't want to relive it. So I'm avoiding you and putting off the inevitable. Now that I'm done with my Christmas in July craft exchange gifts (which I will post pictures of later!), I have no more excuses for avoiding you. So...here I am, to recount and relive the events that brought my world crashing down around me.
These are pictures of Lily. I took them around 2:30 p.m. on August 10, 2009. I remember thinking just how adorable it was that she'd fallen asleep in her Elmo chair while watching a show. She'd given up on napping and was very rare that she'd even randomly fall asleep. And there I was, as her mommy who should have known better, thinking it was adorable and she must have just worn herself out, playing with friends at a play-date that morning. I thought nothing of it. Until she woke up from nap around 3:15 and asked me for a juice box. I'm not big on giving the kids juice, but I'd just recently bought some organic juice pouches by a brand called Honest Kids. Lily hated them! They were bland and flavorless, like severely-watered down juice. But she woke up and asked for one anyway. I handed one to her. She sucked the entire thing down in about two minutes flat. She asked for a second juice box. I gave her one. Two minutes later, the box was empty and she wanted a third. You know that feeling you get when you just know something is wrong? In that heartbeat when you realize that the house you thought you'd built with bricks is actually constructed of playing cards and they're all falling down around you? That was my moment. My world crashed down. I knew. I didn't want to know, but I did. Being diabetic myself, I pulled out my own meter and checked her blood sugar, hoping until the very last second that it would show me something other than what I was expecting. Five seconds later, HI flashed on the screen. I tested Lily twice more, hoping it was a fluke. Maybe her fingers were sticky. I tested with a toe. HI. Maybe she'd stepped in something sticky. Third time would be the charm, right? HI. I picked up the phone, crying and nearly hysterical, and called my husband. He was just getting ready to head home from work and I had to break the news to him over the phone. I told him Lily's blood sugar was over 600 and I was getting the kids ready to head off to the ER.
My poor husband. He's much calmer in bad situations than I am. I freak out first, then take a breath and start dealing with the situation. He deals and saves the freak-out for later. He met us at the ER and we sat there, waiting to be called back. I wish I'd had the presence of mind during all of that to think of just common sense things. Lily hadn't eaten anything since lunch. We didn't make it into a room until nearly 6:00. Two hours in an Emergency Room waiting area is just too much for a 2-year-old girl. Especially without anything to eat. I kept getting her more water to drink (high blood sugars = excessive thirst). But no food. Four hours later and after being forwarded on to a new Emergency Room (our local hospital doesn't deal with pediatric diabetes, so we were sent to St. Paul's Children's Hospital), I finally had the presence of mind to ask the nurse for something for Lily to eat. At 10:00 p.m., Lily was finally admitted into her own hospital room and we were able to get her settled in to sleep for the night.
I have many regrets over that day. I wish I'd been calmer. I wish I'd thought more about what Lily might be feeling, other than that she was sick. I wish the day had never happened and that Lily was still the healthy, non-diabetic child I had wanted her to be. I sobbed for two days straight, whenever I was alone, which was a lot since I was still breastfeeding a 7-month-old Leo and my husband was the one staying at the hospital with Lily. I wish I'd been able to be the one to stay at the hospital with Lily. So many wishes and all the wanting in the world won't make a single one of them come true. But here's the thing....when life throws something like this at you, there are always other things happening around you that can help put your situation in perspective. During the two days that Lily was in the hospital, I talked a lot with my family. One of my sisters is a nurse in a rural area of Minnesota. During a conversation with her, she mentioned a classmate of mine and the situation that his family was going through. He had a daughter nearly the same age as Lily. They'd received the news just a couple of weeks before that their little girl was very sick. Leukemia. Two weeks was all they got. Two weeks with their beautiful little girl before having to say good-bye to her. Perspective. How horrendously heartbreaking it would be to go through that. After hearing that, there was one thought that stuck in my mind. I can deal with anything. Diabetes is a challenge, especially when it's striking at your toddler. But diabetes is life. Diabetes is nothing compared with leukemia. I can deal with this.
Just one more thought to leave with everyone and anyone who happens across my blog...parenting is difficult. But, oh my, is it worth it! Having a child will break your heart daily. Shatter it into a million pieces. And in the same heartbeat, it glues all those pieces back together in a new and more complex and amazing shape. Glues it back together stronger than it was before. Someone who doesn't have children yet can't imagine and there's no way of describing the bitter-sweetness that having a child adds to your life. Someone who isn't a parent can't may look at the story of a family saying good-bye to a child and decide that the heartbreak wouldn't be worth it. But those of you with children know that one minute with that child is worth so much more than a billion minutes without. No parent would willingly choose to not have had their child, no matter how short of a time they have with them.
My brick house may be made with cards and may have crashed down around me, but it can be put back together again. And the new house is so much bigger and better than before.