Sweet Jesus: Diabetes For the Holidays


Wednesday morning, December 23rd. Starts out, almost, like any other. I say almost because the kids are out of school; we slept later than usual; and our littlest one, Lia, is seemingly slow to recover from both a cold and a busy weekend. She comes downstairs as my wife and I are headed off to the gym.

I couldn’t sleep, she says.

Do you want to go lay in our bed, one of us asks.

No. Can I watch TV on the couch?

So we settle her in on the sofa, feel her forehead and ask is she feeling well and she nods and we leave.

An hour later, my wife realizes she has missed a call from home. She calls the house  and learns from our son, who is home from college, that Lia has thrown up. She gives him instructions on cleaning up the mess and making his sister more comfortable and then she dials the pediatrician.

At the doctor’s office they do what they’re paid to do and ask lots of questions. A urine test is ordered, then a blood test. A few minutes later the doctor comes in and asks would Lia mind waiting alone a moment while she talks to her mother and father. We follow her, our hearts trembling, down the hall.

We found a great deal of sugar in her blood, she says. Normal is less than 140. Hers weighs in at 480. There are ketones in her urine. Something to do with acidosis.

I am quiet. My wife is quiet. We look at one other. These are strange words to us.

It looks like diabetes, the doctor says.

Now I can look at no one. Not my wife. Not the doctor. Not even Lia, who is back in the tiny examination room reading a book and waiting quietly for us to return. Perhaps with some medicine. A little something to make her feel better, less tired. She has no idea.

At the ER they poke her and draw her blood and further confirm the diagnosis, then she’s sent to the PICU where she will spend roughly the next thirty hours before moving to a room in the pediatric wing. It is Christmas Eve. Lia is told we won’t be going home today. Now she, too, is heartbroken.

Christmas Day. We wake. Lia and her mother in the hospital. I, our son and other daughter at the house. We all are exhausted. But Santa came, delivering stockings and gifts and treasures in the middle of the night to whichever place we happen to have laid our heads. Lia is delighted, of course, to have not been forgotten or misplaced.

He came! she smiled and said. He came! Santa knew where I was all along.

Yes, he did, my sweet little girl. Yes, he did.

It is late in the afternoon and we are finally heading home. We have Christmas opening still ahead of us, while the rest of the world wrapped that up hours ago. It is something bright to look forward to, other than just being out of the hospital. Something that does not involve counting carbs, or calculating doses, or fretting over the rotation of injection sites. It is Christmas and we are all children again.

We sleep soundly that night from exhaustion.

Tomorrow, a daunting and strange new day awaits. It starts at three a.m. Her blood sugar is 409.

To read more about blood sugars and warning signs, please follow the linkHigh Blood Sugar: Definition, Symptoms.



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