I’m sorry I haven’t posted in such a long time. Life gave us a few hard blows one after the other, and I had to abandon all my writing and blogging plans. Luckily, things have settled down now and I feel ready to share what’s happened.
When it rains, it pours…
If you visited my blog back in October, you may remember that my five-year-old caught Covid-19 during half term. Luckily, she had very mild cold-like symptoms and was soon back at school after her isolation period ended. I was under a fair bit of stress at work and was feeling very run down, but thankfully my symptoms turned out to be a sinus infection.
Over the next couple of weeks, my daughter began to have awful mood swings and was complaining of being tired all the time. She wasn’t herself and my husband and I were struggling to stay positive. At first, we assumed she was just feeling run down after having the virus, but I became more concerned as she seemed to be losing weight fast despite eating more than usual. She was also constantly thirsty and needing frequent trips to the toilet. I knew what those symptoms could indicate, so I booked her in for a blood and urine test with her GP, hoping that it would turn out to be a simple vitamin deficiency or urine infection. But on the same day of the test her GP called me and advised me to take her straight to A & E.
Almost immediately after getting to the hospital she was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. Due to her blood glucose levels being high for a long time, she had developed a dangerous condition called diabetic ketoacidosis, where high levels of harmful substances called ketones build up in the blood. We spent a few days in the hospital, where they treated her with IV fluids followed by insulin. Only one parent was allowed to stay with her, so unfortunately we had to communicate with my husband by video call. The first night there was the hardest of my life. She wasn’t allowed to eat or drink anything and had to be woken every hour for finger-prick tests, injections and obs. Neither of us got any sleep and it was horrible watching her suffer and feeling powerless to help.
But storms don’t last forever
Each day after that got a little better. The diabetic nurse fitted her with a Libre sensor in her arm to read her blood glucose and minimise the need for finger-pricking. We were taught how to do her injections and given a huge pack of information and plenty of supplies. The nurses brought her lego and art materials and she painted lots of pictures and watched DVDs. She was smiling and laughing again, and I felt like I could finally stop holding my breath.
We were discharged on the third evening and since then we have been given a huge amount of support from the children’s ward and the diabetes team. I feel very fortunate that we can get all this care and medication for free on the NHS. The first few days at home were similar to having a newborn again as we were having to learn so much in a short space of time while sleep deprived from waking in the night to treat hypos. But we were able to call the nurses and nutritionists for advice any time, and they popped round to see how we were doing.
Many people will share their umbrellas
We are very lucky to have an amazing support network. Our friends and family rallied around to sort out practical things like our car problems, prescription collections, grocery shopping and laundry. My mum and sister were immediately researching T1D and useful things that we might need. People visited with gifts and cards to cheer her up. I had lots of messages from friends and acquaintances who have T1D or know someone that does, offering their advice and support. My colleagues picked up extra responsibilities, made me a care package and let me lean on them. It was overwhelming how people came together for us.
My daughter’s school was amazing too. They had training as soon as we got out of the hospital and very helpfully provided me with a list of the carbohydrate content for all the school meals so I could work out the insulin doses.
Unfortunately, my husband’s grandmother passed away not long after we were discharged, which was very difficult for him on top of everything. She was a fascinating lady who will be missed greatly. But when we visited her near her 100th birthday, she expressed that she had lived a wonderful life and didn’t have a single regret, which is very comforting.
The sun always comes out
Since returning back to school and work we have settled into a good routine and things are getting easier every day. We carb count before each meal in order to dose her insulin, and I’m improving my maths skills all the time! We went out for dinner for the first time last weekend and it wasn’t as much bother as I’d imagined.
My daughter is very brave with her injections and thanks to her Libre sensor we hardly ever have to do finger-pricks. There is lots of new and emerging technology (pumps, Dexcom, etc.) that will help make her life easier in the future, and she will always have lots of friends and family around to support her. It has been a huge relief to see her laughing, playing and being herself again. I feel like myself again too, and the future looks bright.
About Type 1 Diabetes
Type 1 Diabetes happens when the body attacks the cells in the pancreas that produce insulin. Insulin is essential as it allows the glucose in our blood to enter our cells and be turned into energy. Without it, glucose builds up in your bloodstream, leading to high blood sugar levels, which can cause a number of serious complications. If you would like to know more about it, www.diabetes.org.uk and jdrf.org.uk are good sources of information.
Type 1 has nothing to do with diet or lifestyle. As with many auto-immune conditions, we don’t really know exactly what causes it. There is sometimes a genetic factor, but no one in our family has it. We were told that it was most likely triggered by her having Covid-19, though any virus might have activated it eventually.
I hope to be posting regularly again and joining in with the IWSG and other events soon. I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and hope that the New Year brings love, joy and good health for you and your family.