Darcie's First Diaversary, 03AUG2016

One year ago this morning, my daughter Darcie was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes.

She'd basically been hanging out on the floor in the living room for a few days, with nausea and a low fever, not really wanting to do much - just no energy.  I figured it was the flu. At one point, however, I looked up at her and was shocked at what I saw - it was clear she had very visibly lost a lot of weight, and she was a skinny mini to begin with. At that point I knew this wasn't just the flu, and we made a first-available Monday 9:00 a.m. appointment with her pediatrician.

We talked to Dr. Shlafer, who looked her over, and just as I was starting to get worried he might tell us he couldn't find anything wrong, he looked me in the eyes, paused for a minute, and asked me "She really doesn't look good, does she?" I'm sure he could read the stress on my face as I replied "No, she does not." His next comment was something along the lines of "OK, well we're going to figure out what's going on here", and he kicked into high gear, got his staff to order up a bunch of tests, printed the orders, and sent us toward the lab. I was thinking Leukemia, but I couldn't say it out loud.

We didn't make it out the door.

As part of the exam, he'd had her pee in a cup, and while he was ordering the tests, one of the nurses had dipped a strip. Glucose off the charts.

I literally had my hand on the door as he came jogging up, to me, grabbed my arm, and said "Nevermind the tests. You need to get her down to the Children's ER right now - she has diabetes."

Relief and Confusion.

My OWN very next thought was a phrase I'll admit I have come to despise hearing from others over the next year: "Well at least it's not Leukemia."

Then - "Wait a sec? Children's ER? What's with all the urgency? I thought it was just diabetes?"

I had NO IDEA.

I had no idea that she was in DKA (Diabetic Ketoacidosis), an immediately life-threating condition where the body has metabolized fat into toxic levels of ketones and almost died.

I had no idea that Type 1 Diabetes is a "yes or no" kind of thing - I had heard of it, but always assumed there were different severity levels, like there is with the much-more-common Type 2. With Type 1 Diabetes, the bottom line is that insulin delivered by a pump or by multiple daily injections is required to survive.

I had no idea how prevalent Type 1 Diabetes is.

I had no idea how lucky we were to have a doctor who dipped that strip.

I had no idea how lucky we are to live near Seattle Children's Hospital, or for that matter, in a part of the world where diabetes management supplies are readily available (...albeit still expensive).

Well I certainly know now!

We learned a lot in the three days we stayed in the hospital.  I say 'we' because while Darcie was there for recovery from DKA, Katie and I were sent to what I quite affectionately refer to as "Diabetes Boot Camp".

A year and a day ago, if you had said "Diabetes Boot Camp" to me, I would have thought of some exercise program. But what we went through was actually a three-day intensive education program. It felt, in fact, a lot like my first three days at Army Basic Training reception battalion - our lives were immediately turned upside down, and we had to learn a ton of new terminology, and we had to get everything correct with significant consequences for messing it up.

In this last year, Darcie's been a real trooper. She has, in fact, handled it much better than I have.  I don't want to go into detail, but suffice it to say the added stress has taken a tangible toll on me.  On the other hand, she amazes me. She's my hero. In the last year alone, she's used a finger poke and a drop of blood to check her blood sugar level almost 3,000 times, and has had over 2,000 injections of insulin from me, her mother, and volunteers at her school.

We've got a long road ahead of us, and Darcie in particular, but we're also very lucky. It probably seems strange to a lot of folks that we'd acknowledge (I just can't bring myself to say 'celebrate') this day, her Diaversary, so prominently, but as she put it herself the other day - diabetes is part of who she is. I totally expect that she can keep it that way - just 'a part' of her - and never let it define who she is. I do dare to hope that one day there will be a cure, and it will indeed just be a memory. In the mean time, we keep on keepin' on!


  1. So glad y'all figured out what it was - so scary! I have another dear friend whose daughter has Type 1 diabetes and I know that this impacts the entire family - thanks for your blog and sharing this important date with us. This parenting stuff isn't for wimps for sure!


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