Living with Diabetes
through the use of Community Advocacy, Social Media, & BLUE Flamingos!
Isabel had always been a healthy, active, happy child with no real health problems. She was age 2 in February 2009 when she got a bad cough, which developed quickly one Sunday morning into croup and acute bronchitis. She was hospitalized with a high fever and put on a nebulizer, We wondered where all the sudden wee-wee accidents were coming from. She had been trying to go without nappies since her second birthday (her decision, not mine - she is VERY headstrong!) and we had just about got her dry by Christmas 2008. Suddenly she was making puddles everywhere, and demanding bottles of cold water. By the Thursday evening, alarm bells were ringing. Bob and I tried to tell ourselves we were being silly, but we were scared. After she wet the bed on the Friday night we tested her BG on Saturday morning with Bob's meter. 33.1. That's 596, or thereabouts. We took her straight to her paediatrician and were referred straight to the Children's Hospital in Singapore. Thankfully we had caught it early enough so that she wasn't dangerously ill - nowhere near DKA although she did have fairly large ketones. She was so brave.....the doctors tried for over an hour to hook her up to an insulin drip but couldn't get a vein. She sat through it all, a bit listless but there was no fuss. She was a real trooper - once she felt better, she couldn't wait to get out of the hospital and go home, so she accepted the shots and constant testing immediately. Even at age 2, she seemed to know that she needed this. Seeing Daddy do the same thing ever since she was born must have helped too.
We were in hospital for 4 days while we learned a bit more about how to deal with diabetes in a small child. With Bob's diagnosis being so late, we knew nothing very much about how growth and routines affect insulin and how her body would deal with the condition as she grows. We knew nothing about carb-counting - Bob had been issued with a BG meter and insulin pens in the UK, told what doses he should use, and sent on his way. So although we were ahead of the game to an extent, there was still a rather steep learning curve!
Emotionally, our family's journey with diabetes has obviously often had its challenges. I went through a bad patch about a month after Isabel's diagnosis in 2009, when it hit me that I would be feeling this responsibility all her life, or at least until there is a cure. However, we are determined as a family not to let this beat us. He will not allow Isabel to 'milk' her condition or allow her to be treated differently because of it, although he is so sympathetic with her when she is feeling bad with high or low BG, and they have a special bond for that reason. There is also Joshua to consider - we have to strike a balance between the attention required for Isabel, and paying him attention too so that he doesn't feel left out, and grow resentful of her condition. He is very different to Isabel in that he is a "still water" - he is a happy child but he does feel things very deeply.
Isabel is very matter-of-fact about her condition. She calls it her "dire beasties" and accepts it as part of life. I admire that SO much - how can a 4-year-old be so strong? She has taught us so much. She teaches her friends so much! They all know how to test BGs on their soft toys :) She is already taking control of her condition and learning to be more independent, even at just 4. This week she has got the hang of doing her own BG testing, and last week she accepted the tummy site - those are two major steps forward. We have learned SO much, as a family, since her diagnosis. We are stronger as a unit, and individually. My Isabel is a ray of sunshine in so many people's lives - she is a happy, laughing, singing child who never stops moving or chattering, and we are determined not to let diabetes overshadow that!
This is why we would like Isabel to be the Diabetes Dude ambassador for Singapore. There is not much in the way of support for diabetic kids here in Singapore. I would like to work with Isabel's future school (which Joshua currently attends) to raise awareness, starting with her class and maybe spreading out amongst the school, and working with other schools. There is a lot of misunderstanding here about T1/T2 diabetes - mainly because it is T2 that is so rife among Asians. I would like to combine fundraising with raising awareness, rather than just donating cash! More than anything, I would like Isabel to grow up seeing us do this, knowing that we are doing something to try and help her learn to deal with her "dire beasties" as she grows up.