Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Life Changer

This is a bracelet Annie received from a family friend. It's from Rachel's Cure by Design, which features jewelry designed by a teen-ager with diabetes. Portions of the proceeds go to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Fund.

I wasn't sure if I should write about this or not, but I think there are more reasons to talk about it than to keep it private. On January 3, our middle child, Annie, was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes, also called Type 1. In that instant, our lives changed forever. I had taken Annie out of school to have her tested because she had a couple of the symptoms that we were aware of (we have a niece with juvenile diabetes, and we also had had a diabetic cat). So when Annie was extremely thirsty to the point of being miserable and was also losing a bunch of weight, we knew something wasn't right. A quick test at the doctor's office confirmed our fears, and we went straight to the hospital so they could regulate Annie's blood sugar and begin to teach us how to care for her. To say it was overwhelming would be an understatement. The first full day there we met with an endocrinologist, a counselor, a nutritionist, a physical therapist, and of course, several wonderful nurses on staff. We learned about counting carbohydrates, monitoring blood glucose with finger pricks and insulin dosing. My husband and I were familiar with giving insulin shots because we had administered them to our cat for years. But there's a big difference between putting that needle in the scruff of a cat's neck and putting it into your daughter's belly. But we learned, and we did it. Despite having a niece who was diagnosed with diabetes at age 3, we didn't know nearly enough about the disease. We knew her parents did a lot of figuring before meals and they talked about a lot of numbers, but we didn't know exactly what it all meant. And more than that, we didn't realize what they must have gone through in the beginning, when their lives all changed. We are so lucky to have our niece (who is in college now) and her parents as wonderful resources while we keep learning to care for Annie. Their knowledge and support has been invaluable.

Since being diagnosed, Annie has returned to middle school. When she feels shaky, she heads for the nurse's office to check her blood sugar. She's still learning about her symptoms, but she is sure to check every time she doesn't feel quite right. For the first couple of weeks back at school, I would come in at lunch to make sure she was doing all right and to be there if she needed help with her shots. Now I include a note in her lunch with the amount of carbohydrates in it and the insulin dose. Annie pricks her own fingers now to check her blood glucose levels, and she gives herself the insulin injections, too. We're super proud of her.

My husband and I do blood glucose checks at midnight and 3am (another thing I didn't realize my sister-in-law and brother-in-law were doing back when their daughter was diagnosed). Annie usually sleeps through them, which is good. Something else I didn't fully understand before Annie's diagnosis is that kids with juvenile diabetes can eat what they were eating before they were diagnosed. They just have to account for it with proper insulin dosing. That's not to say that they should eat a bunch of junk and sweets, but those things are allowed.

So on our last day at the hospital, Annie decided to celebrate with the brownie supreme. You deserved it, girl.

I will probably have posts about Annie on here from time to time. I've learned that most people know someone or are related to someone with diabetes. I've also learned that one of my good glassy friends is a diabetic and another has a son with diabetes. Everyone is so helpful and supportive, and eventually I hope to be able to pay it forward to anyone dealing with a new diagnosis. So maybe a few posts about Annie here and there will be helpful to someone. :)


Because of this major change in our lives, I've been cutting down on custom orders. I have a few that are still on my list and a couple I have promised and I will definitely do. But lately my free time has been hard to pin down, so because I can't guarantee anything by a certain date, I've had to cut back. I will still be listing new beads in my Etsy shop.


  1. I know how scary this can be. My brother was diagnosed when he was 8. He is 42 now, married and a dad, and very healthy. He went on the insulin pump about 6 years ago, and that is working very well for him. Best wishes for all of you!

  2. What a brave girl your Annie is! Sounds like she's got a great support system going (great Mom and family). I'll bet you feel like you landed on a whole new planet - planet JD. Sounds like you already know your way around - definitely an overwhelming shock in the beginning. I hope you have a easily accessible Dr. - I could e-mail mine with questions and he would get right back to me. She's going to be super - this is just a little wrinkle in the fabric of her life. More complex but not insurmountable. She's beautiful. Hang in there!

  3. Lauren...please know you are in our thoughts. My cousin was just about Annie's age when she was diagnosed..it was so hard. She is 20 now and has had the insulin pump for two years now..she said with playing sports it was the best thing for her. Geez poor Annie...it's hard enough just being in middle school. Sounds like she is a real trooper and is taking control. I have type 2 diabetes and while I don't do insulin..i did it when I was pregnant so had to give myself the shots, etc. You're all in my prayers.

  4. Lauren...medical issues can cause such upheaval in our lives. All we can do is just go with the flow and learn what we need to learn to manage. Luckily for Annie this is something that is treatable with the proper care and knowledge going forward.

    I recently heard a speaker saying our lives/our bodies are like flutes. An event in our life causes a hole in our vessel. This hole, if properly acknowledged, allows us to sing our song the way we are supposed to sing it. This resonated with me so I thought I would share it with you.
    I know you and your family are strong and will find positive ways to manage Annie's diagnosis.
    Bless you all!
    {{{Big hugs}}}

  5. I love you Lauren! I always felt super lucky to have you as a sister growing up (and still do). And now Annie is so lucky to have you.

  6. Oh Lauren, Annie is so beautiful (that is the sweetest photo...a smile even though she's been through so much).

    I know this is hard for all of you, but from reading your post, you and your family will manage this dreadful hurdle.

    As an elementary school teacher I presently have 2 students that are on insulin pumps. If you came into the gym and watched the children playing you would NEVER be able to pick out the two with juvenile diabetes!

    I’m so glad you shared your story. You are so right….there are so many families fighting the same battle. Draw from them the knowledge and strength that you need to make Annie’s life the best it can possibly be.

    Hugs to you!

  7. Wow - thanks everyone!
    sassypackrat - she is ok! She's doing really well. There are less bad days - some bad moments here and there, but we're handling them and Annie is doing great.
    One-eared pig - I love hearing stories like that. I'm glad your brother leads a full and healthy life. My niece is on the insulin pump, too, and it's been good for her too.
    Kathy - yes, our doctor (well, actually the nurse) is very available. Right now I call in Annie's glucose numbers nearly every day, so I talk to someone there a lot. The nurse in the practice is wonderful. :)
    Cara - I had no idea about your diagnosis. I'm sorry you have to deal with it. I'm glad your cousin is doing well and the pump is working out for her. It's definitely something we hope to try for Annie.
    Ema - I like that part about the flute. Thank you. I know you've been going through family health issues, and your perspective is really helpful. That's a good way to look at it for sure.
    Rach - love you too, little sis!
    Toni - I didn't know you were a teacher - very cool! You are right, we will manage. Some days better than others. Today was a good day.

  8. What a beautiful daughter! Keep your head up - she's doing good and I've known more than one child with this. Stay strong Mom you two will work this together...