Kortnie at the 2011 JDRF Walk to Cure Diabetes, Tempe Town Lake, Tempe, AZ

Friday, November 8, 2013

4 Years

It's been 4 years since Type 1 Diabetes came into our lives.

Yesterday I read thru the tab on this blog that tells Korky's Diagnosis Story.  I think it is just a post from over on my family blog that I wrote back in the beginning.  It's not really the whole story.  So, now that I've had 4 years to reflect on it, I'd like to try and re-tell it.

In the Spring of 2009, Kortnie graduated from the pre-school Headstart program.  It's a free program for low income kids that the county or state funds.  Besides pre-school it also focuses on health.  When she graduated her final report had in it that she was obese.  I was mildly offended, yes she was a chubby kid, but I didn't think she was fat, I thought she looked just fine and I said so.  The teacher agreed with me and told me that they are required to weigh and measure the kids and follow the guidelines that they were given.  She told me not to worry about it, she knew that Kortnie was healthy and would be just fine.  She was only 4 after all and had years and years of growing ahead of her.  Soon after she turned 5, we had a great summer.

In the Fall of 2009, she got her 5 year old shots so she could start Kindergarten.  She had a terrible reaction to her shots, her arm got so swollen at the shot site, she had a fever, and was just kind of yucky for a few days.  Kindergarten started and she went to school.  She loved everything about Kindergarten.  But, we noticed she was tired when she got home from school.  She hadn't taken naps in awhile, and Kindergarten was actually a shorter day for her than Headstart had been.  We were perplexed, but just figured she was growing.  She started eating more, and she started slimming down too.  Again, we figured she was going thru a growth spurt, and I was relieved that she was slimming down and would hopefully no longer be categorized as obese.

May 2009

I was working full time, my husband was working full time.  We had 2 daughters in school and a 2 year old son.  Our babysitter also made note that Kortnie was sleeping more, eating more, and that she was dizzy and falling down more, and running into things.  We still didn't really put it together.  Halloween was on a Saturday, we all had fun trick or treating, on Sunday she was sickly, she had a mild fever, she was thirsty, she was going to the bathroom a lot, she was sleeping on the couch, we thought she just had eaten too much candy, had too much junk food, etc. By Monday she was feeling better, we sent her to school, our regular babysitter was on a vacation, so our backup babysitter kept her.  She told us that Kortnie came home from school everyday and would sleep for 3 hours, that she'd ask for something to eat and act like she was starving, she'd eat one or two bites and be done though.  I said she was like that at home too, we were all frustrated with her weird appetite.  We got thru the week.  Friday night she wet the bed, we thought that was very strange.  On Saturday we went shopping at Walmart, all 5 of us.  She had to pee about 3 times in an hour, she was exhausted and crying, not her normal self.  Her daddy picked her up and said that she didn't feel heavy enough.  I told him that I'd seen her in the shower that morning and that she looked like skin and bones, and that when I'd downloaded the Halloween pictures, looking at them made me see that she'd really lost a lot of weight.  Maybe too much...

Oct 2009

Rockstar Halloween 2009
We agreed that we'd take her to the doctor on Monday morning.  When we got home that night, I actually got on Web MD and put in her symptoms.  

Dry Gray Skin
Extreme Thirst
Frequent Urination
Weight Loss
Change in Attitude

Web MD said she had Tuberculosis or Diabetes.  I though, "yeah right", and shrugged it off, Swine Flu was the IT thing during this time, I really thought if she had anything, that would be what it was.

On Sunday, we went to church.  Brian and I were Sunbeam teachers, the 3 year olds, the Primary (3-12 year old Sunday School) was putting on a program, Brian and I were supposed to sit up with our class during the program.  I'd arranged for Graham to sit with a friend since both girls, Brian, and I were participating in the program.  Kortnie was excited for the program, but just too out of it to participate, so she and Brian ended up sitting with my friend and watching the program instead of participating.  The program lasted about an hour.  I was sitting up in front of the church with my little class and I kept looking down to where Brian was sitting with Kortnie.  She seemed to be in and out of consciousness and I kept hearing this voice "get up and take her to the hospital" and I kept thinking "I will, I will, after the program is over, I can't just get up and leave in the middle of it".  Finally, the program got over and that voice was saying "now, take her now!", so I did, I got up and went to her and Brian and said "I'm taking her to the ER, you stay and teach our class, you can walk home after church" Brian quickly agreed which I kind of thought was strange, that he didn't argue or anything.  I picked her up and carried her to the car, we came home and changed clothes and headed over to Show Low to the hospital (20 miles or so).  Our regular babysitter called while we were driving to tell me they were home, I told her what was going on.  When we got the ER there was no waiting, thank goodness, we were brought right back to triage.  When they weighed Kortnie I realized that she'd lost 14 pounds since August, I told the triage nurse this and she got us right back.

From there on, everything happened so fast.  The doctor came and other medical people came back, they poked her finger and did a blood draw too, they took temperature, blood pressure and heartbeat, and all that stuff they do.  They didn't tell me anything at first, but after a little bit someone came and gave her an IV, and told me that they were testing her for Leukemia and Diabetes.  Needless to say, I was FREAKED out by now, and so was she because of the IV, she didn't know what the words Leukemia or Diabetes meant.  In fact, I didn't even really know what Diabetes meant either, but I did know what Leukemia meant.  Just a short while later, they came back and told me her diagnosis.  Type 1 Diabetes, Strep Throat, and a Bladder Infection.  They would give her IV antibiotics for the Strep and Bladder Infection.  Then, they started talking about her Potassium and Magnesium levels and her blood turning into Acid, Heart Attacks, Insulin, and Glucose, they told me that if we'd have waited until tomorrow and let her go to bed that night, that she probably wouldn't have woken up the next morning.  They said that we were going to be in the hospital for a few days.  And, then they all left the room.  Kortnie was dozing off so I called my Mother in Law.  Don't ask me why I called her first, I'm not really sure.  I cried and told her that I was at the hospital with Kortnie, that she has diabetes, that she's really sick, that Brian was at church and didn't have his cell phone so I couldn't even call him, and that we should cancel all family dinners from now on.  Brian has a food allergy, his Grandma had 2 different food allergies, and here I was thinking Kortnie couldn't have sugar now.

After I called her and talked to her, this is where my memories start to blur together.  She must have calmed me down and started letting our family know what was going on.  I must have called my parents too.  I do remember watching the clock, waiting for the time when I knew Brian would be home and I could call him.  It never occurred to me to call the church building.  Meanwhile, the hospital decided to move us from the ER to a room and they called our family doctor in Snowflake, they also said we'd be in the hospital for 4 or 5 days.  I finally was able to call Brian, and I had a plan.  I told him to pack a bag for Kortnie and I, to bring us some clothes, toothbrushes, etc, and to bring me my book and my laptop.  I told him I'd call our neighbors and ask them to watch Stasia and Graham since the hospital said they couldn't come in.  I called my neighbor and she said, yes of course she'd watch the kids.   My mother in law must have gotten ahold of our family, and she sent Brian's brother Brandon over to help give Kortnie a blessing.  I can't remember who got their first, Brian or Brandon, maybe Brian.

Brandon gave Kortnie a blessing and I remember him saying something about how sick she was and how it was going to be a long hard road, but that she had lots of people who loved her and she needed to stay here for us and we'd help her with everything she had facing her.

Then the hospital people came again with the on-call doctor from our family practice.  They did this awful blood gas test on her, they held her down and put a needle deep into the vein on her wrist.  They came back and said that the results from the test were bad and they had to send us by helicopter to Phoenix.  Then, everything started happening really fast.  They hooked her up to heart monitors, they had a million things going into her IV, they strapped her down on a different bed, they asked me how much I weighed so they could figure out if I could go on the helicopter with her.  Thank goodness I was able to go!  They took us out to the helicopter pad, Brian, Brandon, and Erin gave me a hug and then Kortnie and I got in the helicopter.  They let me take a few things, so I took my purse, laptop, underwear, and toothbrush.  I took jammies and a stuffed animal for Kortnie.  As we took off, I saw Brian crying.  The helicopter ride was something like 45 minutes, Kortnie fell right to sleep, and I had headphones on so I couldn't hear anything.  I had my phone so I texted people to tell them what was going on.  Halfway thru the ride the doctors started shining lights on Kortnie and I freaked out but they said that she was ok, they were just doing routine vitals.  We landed at the Phoenix Children's Hospital and everything started happening fast again, they put us in an ICU unit and started checking her and running tests all over again.  We had family in Phoenix, Jason, Magen, and Marc, they showed up and brought me some pillows and a blanket.  Magen stayed with Kortnie while Jason and Marc took me to the cafeteria to get some food, by now it was 9 or 10 at night.  Magen said that Kortnie slept while I was gone.  After they left, I called my mom and since she doesn't use text on her phone she didn't know what was happening so I filled her in, I spent the rest of the night sitting by her bed, crying and praying that she'd be okay.  She'd been asleep since before the helicopter took off.  She'd been poked and prodded and never woke up or made a sound.  I was scared and I felt alone.

The next morning the nurses told me to have a shower and go fill out paperwork so I did that, when I look back now, I wonder how I could have left her side at all, I think I was in shock.  Back at home Brian was getting ready to come to Phoenix to be with Kortnie and I.  I think his mom came over and helped him pack and took our dog back to her house.  Our neighbors, the Pearce's kept our turtles for us.  Brian went to school and told them what was going on and got all of Kortnie and Anastasia's homework for the week.  Again, maybe he and I were both in shock, because I can't imagine why I even thought of making him get Kortnie's homework.  Brian's mom said she'd watch Graham and Stasia, but we decided we wanted them in Phoenix with us, Jason and Magen volunteered to keep them.  They came and moved us to a regular room on the Diabetes floor and said that Kortnie was stable and they let her eat.  I got on my computer and saw tons of messages from our family and friends on Facebook, Korntie's Grandma's had been posting and keeping people up to date for us.  Finally, Brian got there, and I melted.  I guess I'd been holding it all in.

We stayed in the hospital for 3 more days.  We were given a big binder full of stuff we needed to learn.  They showed us how to count carbs, how to give shots of insulin, and how to check Kortnie's blood sugar. We crammed tons of information into our heads.  They told us that we were fast learners, they made sure we knew that we didn't cause her to get T1D, and they told us that we could do this, that we could take care of her, and that she could live a long, happy life.  

They wouldn't let us take her home until we both were able to calculate how much insulin she would need in different situations and until we both gave her a shot.  Brian gave her a shot first, I almost threw up.  He gave her the first 3 shots actually.  Finally he and the nurse made me do it.  I cried and cried.  She cried a lot too, but sooner than me she got brave.  The girl in the bed next to us was a newly diagnosed T1D too and she was a bit older, she had both of her parents with her too, but she was so brave and independent, and doing her own shots.  Kortnie and her hit it off and Kortnie wanted to be brave too.  Her name was Jocelyn and I think she was from Tucson.  I wish we'd have exchanged phone numbers.  She left a day before us.

When they let us out of the hospital we were scared to take her home and scared to take care of her by ourselves.  We stayed one night at Jason and Magen's and then headed home on a Friday.  We were greeted by friends and neighbors and welcomed back.  They brought us dinners and they had a welcome home banner on our house.

We went to the hospital on Sunday, November 8th, 2009.  We left the hospital on Thursday afternoon the 12th, we got home on Friday the 13th, she was back to school on Tuesday the 17th.  Anastasia's birthday was the 18th.  A sucky birthday for her that year, but I remember telling everyone that I wasn't going to forget her birthday and I didn't, but I can't remember what I got her or how we celebrated.  I took a leave from my job at Walmart, I tried to go back part-time in January, but it just didn't work, so I ended up quitting.

2 Weeks after she got home, looking much better

Our friends, family, neighbors, Kortnie's teachers, everyone has rallied around us, they've always been here for us.  We are grateful for everyone. We've learned so much over these 4 years and we've come a long way.  I am so grateful her life was saved, and I'm so grateful for how well she's done with everything, and I'm so grateful that we have access to the things we need to take care of her properly.

I still have my angry days and so does she.  We still have struggles, but we have lots of triumphs too.  

Blood Sugar was 60 at 2:18. I had a glocose tables. (glucose tablet)
Rechecked at 2:35 blood suger was 86 I looked at IOB 
(insulin on board-her pump tells her if there is active insulin in her system)
and it was 0.00 I think I was fine.

Just this morning she handed me this note.  Apparently I'd slept thru my 2am alarm.  Heavenly Father and her Guardian Angels were watching over her and/or she is just getting to where she can feel her lows, even while sleeping.  I can't explain how awesome this is.  If you are the parent or family member of a PWD (person with Diabetes) then you know how awesome this is.  If you're not a caretaker of a PWD...just trust me...this is Awesome and a Blessing.

I think Heavenly Father was looking over her and woke her, just like 4 years ago He prompted me to take her to the ER.  I'm so glad that I listened then and she listened last night.

Today, to celebrate her 4 year D-Aversary, I took blue Rice Krispie treats to her class at school.  Then I let her pick our dinner, hamburgers and homemade Mac & Cheese.  After dinner the whole family went to the ice cream counter at our grocery store and got big ice cream cones.  It's been a good day!

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