This is my first "everyday" blog entry. While I've blogged our family vacations before (because vacations are fun and interesting, right?), I have never felt like our everyday lives were interesting enough to warrant a blog, i.e. why would someone want to read about a mom, a dad and four kids, leading ordinary lives? But thanks to Leah (I love you, honey!), our lives have become a little more interesting lately. It seems people want to know what's going in our not-so-ordinary lives, and lots of questions are being asked. So...here are some answers, my thoughts and where I've decided to begin this story. We are now 9 weeks post spinal fusion surgery, and 2 days post diabetes onset. As we come to grips with what this means, I thought I'd share some thoughts we've had as well as answer some questions that seem to be on everyone's mind.
As soon as we heard the news of the diabetes, my sister Beth shared with me the familiar verses from Phil. 4: 4-7:
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
The part that jumped out at me, was "with thanksgiving, present your requests to God." I realized we had so much to be thankful for:
-for an answer to the big question, "Why is she feeling so bad?" Leah was supposed to be recovering from her surgery, getting stronger every day, and yet we were seeing repeated big slumps in her energy and stamina. We attributed it to so many other things like reaction to antibiotics, coming off pain meds, overdoing it, dehydration, the hot weather...we never considered diabetes!
-for blood tests that were ordered on Friday morning after a really rough week, with results that brought us to the ER and an eventual confirmed diagnosis of Type 1 diabetes.
-for neighbors (Dr.) Bob and Rachel, who were able to give us guidance on how to handle those first hours, and who also provided a place to stay and emotional support for little sister Chloe on that first night.
-for Julie & (Dr.) Kurt, who happened to be 5 minutes from the hospital when they heard the news, and came right up to the ICU to see us that first night. With first-hand experience as parents of Andrew (another kid with Type 1 diabetes), and as an ER doctor, they were able to calm many of our immediate fears and concerns.
-for modern day technology (like insulin pumps, apps for counting carbs, and new approaches to diabetes that no longer limit what a diabetic is allowed to eat (very important for a sweet-tooth like Leah)) that give us the hope that this journey, though difficult, might be easier than our preconceived notions and fears.
-for almost immediate improvement! Within 24 hours, Leah was acting more like herself...smiling, laughing, and talking. We have only seen glimmers of this girl over the past 9 weeks, and they were always short-lived.
-for being "at home" at St. Joe Regional Medical Center (as opposed to in Indy for our surgery hospital stay), where we have the closeness of our church family and other friends, connections with doctors and nurses, and a quick drive home for sleep and other things we need.
I could go on an on, but you get the picture. We have so much to be thankful for, and, for now anyway, that is getting us through the first step of this journey. Now, to answer some of the questions people are asking:
Did the surgery cause the diabetes? Did she have this before the surgery? or is this just a big coincidence?
The surgery did not cause the diabetes...it is something that Leah was already predisposed to, or carrying in her system. But we've been told that often a stressful event (like a car accident, surgery, etc) can precipitate the onset of the disease. In other words, it sent her body over the edge of the cliff she was already standing on. Tests have shown that it has been going on for at least 4-6 weeks, which in retrospect, makes so much sense. All of the signs were there, but we just attributed them to the healing process.
I have been racking my brain trying to remember if there were signs before the surgery, but I'm just not sure. We think that blood tests before and during the time of surgery would have revealed a problem, so if her blood sugar was off at that time, it might have been mild enough at that point that it was not considered a red flag.
Where did this come from? Does it run in your family?
We have no idea, and no, there is no one in our family with Type 1 diabetes.
How long will she be in the hospital? What's happening now?
We could be here another 2 to 4 days, as they work to keep her blood sugar level stable, and as we go through the education process. We're learning how to count carbs, and how to figure out the needed insulin dose based on blood sugar levels as well as food intake. Leah has begun doing her own finger pricks to measure her blood sugar. We've also learned how to draw up an insulin shot, I have given Leah two injections, Tom has given one, and she's given herself two. Once we've learned how to use vials and syringes, we'll be getting some insulin dial-up pens, which are supposed to be much easier to deal with, and which we'll be going home with.
What about the future?
We will begin follow-up with the Pediatric Diabetic clinic here at St. Joe within a few weeks. We are feeling this will be great fit for Leah, as the consulting doctor comes from Peyton Manning Hospital (where she had her Spinal Fusion), and the nurse practitioner who runs the clinic is the daughter of family friends I grew up with in DeMotte (it's a small world!). As far as Leah's future, we have been told that people with diabetes can lead normal lives, and enjoy everything they did before the diagnosis. In Leah's case that is piano, flute, marching band pit, and choir, to name a few.
How are you doing, really? and Do you need anything?
We are doing okay, but we have our moments. There have been tears, both of sadness and joy. We don't have any immediate needs, but the prayers, emails, messages, and visits are so appreciated and welcomed.