My husband jokes that I was born to be a type 1 diabetic kid's mom. The first time he said it I recognized the irony because as a physical therapist, my second passion is food and nutrition. And, as an adopted Hispanic kid I was always worried I was going to get diabetes until my pcp told me to go out and "have a hamburger and stop worrying so much."
Fast forward 15+ years and I have an 8 year old and a 10 year old and we are in the early days of Covid. My youngest, Ayla, started to complain of stomach aches and her normal picky eating got worse. Normally a healthy, cook from scratch kind of cook, I was cutting corners here and there because I was just too overwhelmed with Covid life. Transitioning my PT business to virtual, home schooling and covering in a nursing home was all I could handle. Ayla started to complain more and more. My husband would encourage her to go out and play but she would just lay with a blanket over her head on the floor in child’s pose for hours at a time.
We had already been to the doctors for years regarding her digestion and belly pain for years. They always told me she was fine. I literally assumed her increased pain was an embodied version of Covid depression. As the months progressed she started eating more but losing weight. My mom would tell me she was losing weight but I couldn’t see it. She had always been tiny.
In June when my homeschooling stint was over I decided to start a family hydration contest to encourage my oldest to drink more water and to get everyone back on track health-wise. Ayla kicked everyone’s butts. When the 3 week contest ended I kept telling her the game was over but she kept guzzling water. One night, I said to my husband, “I think Ayla has diabetes.” He laughed at me noting that my less diligent cooking and meal prep was still light years ahead of most families. He told me to stop worrying so much. I counted down the days to her physical. Early in July she had her greatly anticipated physical and we saw a nurse practitioner we had never met (Thanks Covid). I told her about Ayla’s symptoms and pointed out her abdominal distention. She told me I had nothing to worry about. “Ayla just had great abs.” I protested and gave all of the medical reasons why I was concerned. I left disheartened and so was Ayla. I apologized to her that I couldn’t find answers for her pain. We headed to a vacation and she couldn’t hike or do anything without peeing or crying. I told my husband I thought she had diabetes and he laughed at me sighting my obsessive health and wellness family regime.
We got home and the next morning she fell getting out of bed. She said "mom something is really wrong." We headed to sick call immediately and met with a new doctor who sent her for blood work. As Ayla was hysterically screaming about the blood work I offered a donut in exchange for no dramatics during her blood work. It was 5 pm and we were sitting by the pool and the doctor called. “You need to get ayla to the hospital. She has diabetes. I was dumbfounded. … her blood glucose was over 600 and her A1c is 16. I of course blamed the donut and he quickly assured me that the donut was not to blame.
We headed to the hospital where they were waiting for us. The first thing they said was that she could eat whatever she wanted she just needed to take a little medicine first. I was infuriated at how simple they were making this sound. I knew our lives would never be the same. And 1 day later we were leaving the hospital with all of the supplies you get with diabetes and me the needle phobic human was leaving as the primary nurse, injecting my doughter multiple times per day with nothing less than full body exhaustion, sadness, and a billion questions about whet I could have done and should have done to prevent this or get her diagnosed sooner. I was beside myself knowing that in a blink of an eye the carefree childhood I had envisioned for her had slipped away.
Little did I know , that diabetes would be such a family affair. I didn't know that my walk through perimenopause was going to be challenged every step of the way with this new life with diabetes. Nor did I foresee how the stress and lack of sleep that I would soon encounter would challenge my own blood sugar balance. And through it all Ayla rises to every challenge and amazes us all.
If you're new to becoming a T1 D mom, you are not alone. Reach out anytime!
Is a mom of two, life long exercise & nutrition enthusiast, women's health specialist & physical therapist.