Our daughter Sophie was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes on 9 June 2011 at the age of eleven.
I knew very little about T1D before it entered our lives. Like most other people who don’t know much about it, I thought it was something that you got if you didn’t eat healthily and didn’t exercise enough. I definitely didn’t appreciate that there was more than one type! I also didn’t have a clue what the symptoms were. In hindsight, the six months before diagnosis were full of signs of Sophie developing type 1 diabetes.
When she was at the local pool and she started to complain about pains in her legs, I suggested she have a rest, and then told her to suck it up and get back in the pool as I thought it was just growing pains. Looking back now, I think that was the first sign that her body was suffering.
She started to drink a lot more water. I was really pleased because we have always told our children to drink more and she was finally doing so! Being summertime, it also made sense that she would be thirstier than normal.
She started to lose weight, but it didn’t worry me as she had recently started dance lessons, regular swimming, and was playing softball twice a week. She hadn’t been that active before, so it made sense that she would lose weight. I couldn’t tell the difference because I saw her every day, but after she was diagnosed, we figured out that she ended up losing a third of her total bodyweight!
Then the visits to the bathroom started to become more frequent. Next was the bedwetting. It started fairly infrequently, as a lot of the time, she would manage to get up and rush to the bathroom, but it soon became more frequent. I didn’t make a big deal of it, because I didn’t want her to worry about it – I thought it was stress as she was being bullied at school and my husband had had to move away for work which was a big change.
In April, we finally went to our GP to discuss the bedwetting. We did a urine test just to check for any infection, but it came back negative for infection so we didn’t go back for further check-ups. Two months later, when she was bedwetting almost two or three times a night, we finally went back to the GP.
Our appointment time was 8am – the first available. I planned to take Sophie in, get the magic tablets that would stop her wetting her bed, and then drop her at school. We sat down in front of the doctor and she pulled up Sophie’s notes on her computer and read through them. The words that came out of her mouth next, will ring in our ears forever.
“Ah, that was a bit remiss of me. There was sugar in her urine.”
She hopped up and pulled a finger pricker out of a box, telling us she just wanted to do a quick test. The number read 27.8 m/mol. Of course, that meant nothing to us at the time.
The doctor went on to explain that Sophie would not be going to school today. She was a very poorly girl, and would need to go to hospital. She told me that she thought Sophie had diabetes. Sophie burst instantly into tears. I remained as calm as I possibly could, and explained to my frightened little girl that we would go to the hospital to find out, and that everything would be ok. We were told to go home, pack a bag in readiness for a hospital admission, and the doctor would ring me.
The minute I got back home, I jumped onto the computer and Googled diabetes. Reading through the list of signs and symptoms, everything fell into place – how could we have not known? How could my little girl have gone through this for over 6 months, without us knowing?! How could the doctor have been so remiss and overlooked a possible symptom 2 two months earlier?! How lucky are we that it wasn’t a great deal worse than it already was?!
The hardest few weeks of our lives followed, affecting our whole family. Rivers of tears flowed. The amount of information we were bombarded with was huge. The first insulin injection was so traumatic that Sophie, myself and the nurse were all in tears. The stressful rollercoaster of emotions was incredible; despair, sadness, anger, guilt, denial, to name a few. The situation felt so surreal at times, I thought it was all a horrible dream, and hoped I would wake up soon and it would all be over.
Still, we survived.
I am so grateful that Sophie was able to walk into hospital, and not be carried in in a coma. I’m grateful that she did not spend time in ICU, with us wondering if we would lose her. I applaud the amazing work that the nurses and doctors do, to take care of our children and educate families at diagnosis. I’m grateful for the fantastic technology that is available to us to make managing their diabetes a little bit easier than it was in the past. I’m grateful for the knowledge we have, so Sophie can lead as normal a life as possible and follow her dreams. I’m grateful for organisations like JDRF who work towards improving the lives of people with T1D, and ultimately finding a cure, thus giving us HOPE that one day, we will wake up and this bad dream will be over! Most of all, I’m grateful when Sophie wakes up every morning.