My friend Summer asked me the question “how did you know?” The question has a complicated answer. For those close to us, you know we had some concerns about Grace for a while now. Really our concerns go back to May when Grace started wetting the bed. At first we weren’t too concerned. It was hot, the kids were playing more outside and Grace has always been a deep sleeper. But the episodes started coming with more frequency and we both grew concerned. I try not to be “that parent” who constantly googles her kids various symptoms. I also try not to bother our pediatrician unless I think it’s important. So I googled “bedwetting” and wouldn’t you know what pops up first? Diabetes. I was alarmed but I also remember a funny routine I heard on the radio. If you google any of your medical symptoms you’re likely to come to two conclusions: I have HIV and am going to die. I have cancer and am going to die. I tried to downplay it in my mind and called our pediatrician who assured me kids do go through periods of bedwetting and it’s not at all uncommon.
And then the thirst came. And when I say thirst-I mean thirst. There was no amount of water in the world that could satisfy Grace’s thirst. The constant consumption of water led to more bedwetting. I didn’t call our pediatrician because it was really hot and I asked around (I know my sister is wincing as she reads this) and lots of kids drink a lot of water. And then the hunger came. Grace could pack away as much food as Tom. But she was skinny as a rail- I immediately assumed growth spurt. Again, I asked around- do your kids eat a lot? Of course they do. And then came the moodiness. Grace was just an all out crank. But, pretty much every summer, Grace is cranky especially when growing. So it all made sense--kind of. We talked about making an appointment to see our pediatrician--just too many things weren't adding up.
And then the headaches. Up the mountains Grace experienced God-awful headaches. I mean awful. Screaming, sobbing, holding her head, “please help me mom” headaches. We rushed her to the ER in Scranton where they did nothing. Literally. Asked a few questions, implied perhaps we beat our child, and dismissed the headaches “as something kids sometimes get.” Tom and I looked at each other and said we’re getting the hell out of here. We rushed back, packed up, and headed home. We wanted to be near an ER that took this seriously and booked an appointment with our pediatrician the next day.
We love our pediatrician. One big reason is because he is a pragmatist. He listened carefully as we went through our concerns: the thirst, hunger, bedwetting, moodiness, headaches. He brought up diabetes but said it was rare--very, very rare-since we don’t have it in our families. Each symptom had a very rational explanation. He concluded migraines but, “to dot the i’s and cross the t’s” he would do a urine test.” Tom headed to the car, I was holding the door for the kids to leave when they called us back in. This is the nightmare part--where everything seems to be happening in slow motion. I was watching Grace color as the doctor explained we were headed to CHOP immediately. There was glucose in her urine. I felt sucker punched, as if I had to take a knee. But we couldn’t. We had to get Grace to the ER. I was trying to listen and trying to keep from collapsing. The odds that a child will develop type 1 diabetes in a family with no history of various auto immune disorders is less than 1%--very small consolation. In the ER we learned her sugar was over 500 but, in a sense, we were lucky. Grace’s body had “tolerated” the diabetes quite well. They explained many parents rationalize their kids’ symptoms the same way we did but if it goes on long enough, they come to the ER in a very, very bad way. We were lucky we acted when we did, that our pediatrician--even though he knew the chance was so, so slim- did that urine test.