Saturday, September 19, 2009

The What Ifs

If you are a mother, and you’ve ever been told that something was wrong with your child, you probably wondered, “What did I do, or not do, for this to happen??”  As far as type 1 diabetes is concerned, there are many different scenarios on how one “gets” it. 

You can’t “catch” it.  You can’t pick it up from touching a bathroom toilet, you can’t get it from someone sneezing behind you at the movies, and you can’t get it from not washing your hands after you’ve handled raw chicken.  I think life would be a lot easier if we could prevent our kids from getting it. 

Our endocrinologist says that Maddie was predisposed to having diabetes, but that also at some point in time, she got a virus that attacked her immune system, which led to her body attacking her pancreas, then her thyroid (Hashimoto’s Disease), thus reeking auto-immune disease havoc inside her little body.

Hereditarily speaking, (do you like how I just now threw that in there??) there is diabetes in my family.  My sister was diagnosed with type 1 in her late 20’s.  I also remember my grandfather taking insulin and keeping track of his blood sugar, but my mom and sister are starting to think that maybe he had type 2.  Who knows…..  So, evidently, Maddie was set up from the start to someday have diabetes.  It’s in her DNA.  

But, as far as this whole virus thing, well, there were a few years in there (before I had my boys) when life wasn’t so chaotic, and I actually had time to be a neat and organized  mom.  There were several times when she was 2 or 3 years old, that I remember Maddie having a fever for a couple of days.  I remember being baffled because she didn’t have a sore throat, her ears didn’t hurt, she wasn’t throwing up, and there was no rash anywhere on her body.  She was acting fine, she was just burning up.

There would be the “chicken pox scare of VBS 2003” or the “fifths disease scare of toddler 2’s Sunday school 2001”.  I would periodically get the emails and phone calls from my friends saying that “so-and-so’s child has a rash” or “such-and-such is broken out all over his hands, feet, and mouth”, and my personal favorite, “such-and-such spent all night cleaning up throw up from so-and-so’s stomach bug”.  Fortunately, somehow, Maddie steered clear of all of those icky air born illnesses. 

There was a time when I may have slightly bragged about Maddie not ever really getting very sick.  She had the occasional ear infection, or runny nose, but she was never down for more than half a day or so.  And when she was, as a good first-time-mom, I always rushed her to the doctor to get medicine, not only so that she wouldn’t feel miserable, but also because I valued my sleep and didn’t want to mess up the great schedule that she was on. 

But I can’t help but think that one of those mysterious fevers when she was very little may have been “the one” that did all the auto-immune damage.  The pediatrician would say, “Marcie, it’s just a fever.  She checks out okay, so just treat it with over the counter medicine.”  So I did.  Children’s Tylenol and Children’s Ibuprofen were my best friends.

When she was diagnosed at 5, the endocrinologist said that judging from her terrible A1C score, (14.2~yikes!!) she probably had had diabetes (undiagnosed) for about 2 years or so.  My response was “Whaaaaaat?” 

Yep, that’s right.  For TWO whole years, my child lived with an undiagnosed chronic illness, without my knowledge, as I fed her all of the foods that she is NOT supposed to indulge in without some sort of insulin injection.  Nice, huh? 

I try to concentrate every day on how healthy Maddie is today, and how blessed we are to have her on her pump.  How she has more energy than myself and Shawn put together, how sweet, beautiful, and smart she is, and how she has so many friends that love being around her.  I can’t help but wonder about all of the “what ifs” but I guess I’ll never know….. 

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