This last July I started to notice some subtle changes in my daughter. She has just turned 5 and was starting to thin out, just like her older sister did at 5. It's been a very hot summer here in the desert and she was thirsty and peeing ALL.THE.TIME. This was particularly pronounced when we went on a trip for Independence Day. During the short 2 hours we spent at the mall she had to pee 3 different times. I was starting to suspect that maybe she had a bladder infection but she was drinking all the time too because it was so hot! The heat was also making her more and more lethargic and tired during the day, but I feel like we were all feeling that way. Did you catch the 4 symptoms you should never ignore with your kids?
All of these are so easily explained that it took me awhile to connect all of the dots. A week later on Friday night we were out with friends and my daughter continue to hang close to me and was acting like she didn't feel good. I was just waiting on a fever and figured it would come that night. Yet another person told me how much she had stretched out that summer and she hadn't grown that much. That night she wet the bed which is highly unusual for her and the dots finally connected in my mind. The next morning I put her on our scale and she had lost 5 lbs. It was at that point that I posted on Facebook to see if anyone had a glucometer I could borrow.
Her blood glucose level was so high it couldn't read, so we immediately took her to the emergency room. I am so grateful we had as much information as we did because you can't just take your kid to the emergency room and say that she's acting tired and peeing a lot. Being able to tell them to check her blood sugars because it wouldn't read on a meter escalated things. They very quickly tested her again to find out that she was too high to read on their meter and that's when things got serious. Later that day, she was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes, a life-threatening emergency (you can find the entire story here).
SEE MORE: Inspired by Diabetes: One Girl’s Story
With Type 1 Diabetes a child's body just decides to start attacking the cells that make insulin, ultimately destroying them. Insulin is what unlocks our fat cells to receive the sugar in our blood (aka ALL the food we eat because food is broken down as sugar). Because it now has no where to go, the sugar accumulates in the blood stream slowly making your blood more and more toxic to you leading to brain damage, coma and death. As much as I knew about diabetes and its symptoms as an EMT I hadn't realized just how serious the onset of diabetes could be and how life-threatening it was for my daughter. Just recently in our community we lost a little girl to diabetes and realizing that type 1 had killed her was an overwhelming shock and something I want to educate everyone about so it doesn't happen again.
Here's what to look for (4 T's taken from this article):
- Toilet – going to the toilet a lot, bed wetting by a previously dry child or heavier diapers in babies
- Thirsty – being really thirsty and not being able to quench the thirst
- Tired – feeling more tired than usual
- Thinner – losing weight
The difficult thing that happens is often diabetes is masked by other symptoms. If you take your child in with the flu they will have possibly all of these symptoms and could legitimately have the flu on top of the onset of diabetes. Be sure that if you suspect diabetes to push for a finger prick test or borrow a glucometer like I did and test them yourself! Any reading over 200 will quickly tell you that your child is in trouble and that you need to get to the nearest emergency room fast.
I had to listen to my Mama gut because so much of what she was experiencing was easily explained away. The day we went to the emergency room she had just gone to lunch with her Dad and was running around like nothing was wrong, but I couldn't shake that something was off. Listen to those feelings and investigate them until you can put them to rest. I'm so glad I did.
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