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Disclaimer: This is long. It’s somewhat rambling. I’ve posted some of the information before. But it’s my 11th diabetes anniversary. So I’m posting my story, again. Please take the time to read it in honor of American Diabetes Month.
I’m sitting on my bed, at 11:11 the night before this entry will post, trying to write a paper that was due 11 minutes ago, and I can’t focus. My blood sugar is too out of wack (78 and dropping, hoping those glucose tabs kick in). My stomach is to topsy turvy from stress of an upcoming packed weekend including a job interview, the salmon I ate tonight which was apparently unagreeable with my system, and the fact that I haven’t written that paper yet. I am mostly thinking about how I need to go to the store and buy two cake mixes. One will be my d-anniversary cake, complete with 11 syringes.
The other cake mix I will use to make my mom some cookies to take to work with her tomorrow. Tomorrow is her undisclosed numberth birthday. 11 years ago, she spent her birthday evening with her oldest child, her only daughter, her 11 year-old, in the hospital.
She had spent half the day waiting for her daughter to come home. She was only 11. How could this be happening to her? She was a happy, involved girl. She loved singing in church, she loved playing soccer and coach-pitch softball. She had just started her second season of basketball. She was an active, vibrant little girl. How could this disease have attacked her, when she had been so healthy before?
Then, finally, her daughter came home promptly at 3pm. She always walked home. It was only a few blocks in a small western Missouri town. She worried a little more today than she did most days, but her daughter showed up at the right time.
Her daughter had some knowledge of what was going on. The afternoon before, they had visited the doctor. An assistant had stuck a needle in her arm. She vaguely knew what diabetes was. She was a avid reader and had encountered it in her books. She didn’t know the advances in medicine that would allow her better control and more freedom, because as she walked home, she thought the Halloween lollipop she was eating might be the last candy she ever had.
Her mother told her when she walked in the door. “The Doctor called. He said your blood sugar levels were highly elevated. He said we should go to the hospital.”
Her dad was already home from the small town church that stood next door to their house. He insisted on a second opinion. They went to a friends house and had her blood sugar tested there. The friend assured her parents that it was too high and that they should follow the doctor’s instructions to check into the hospital.
That night, her mother spent her birthday evening in Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri. She didn’t know what to expect. They had received little training. She knew that her daughter was learning how to give herself shots of insulin, but as far as the Diabetes monster went, she was still in the dark. All she knew was that this was the worst birthday present ever.
“Mamma, I’m sorry that I had to get diabetes on your birthday.”
“It’s okay, Sarah, I’m thankful that you’ll start to get better on my birthday.”
Eleven years later, I am here. I have been on a whirlwind roller coaster with my diabetes care, but I am alive and well and doing everything I can to take life with diabetes one day at a time. To do only as much as I can and not to be frustrated with myself for not being able to do more than I can. My mother is well. She will have a happy birthday today with no children being shipped to the hospital (hopefully). But each year, we both remember what happened on this day 11 years ago, and we are thankful. Thankful that it didn’t happen on a day after her birthday, on a day when I might have gone into a coma and been lost forever.
I’m forever grateful to my mother. She saw the signs. It was her vigilance, her words that convinced our primary care physician to run the test that put me on the track to living a long, healthy life.
Thank you, Mom. Happy Birthday.