In November last year, my ten-year-old daughter Hayley and I were laughing in the aisles of Toys ‘R’ Us, when all of a sudden she turned ghost white.
In the months leading up to her collapse, Hayley was always thirsty, had lost weight and was regularly having tummy aches. I’d put it down to a growing phase. I wish this had been the case.
I raced her to the medical centre where the doctor told her to rest up and drink water. But I just knew something was seriously wrong. The next day I took her to my doctor. The look in the doctor’s eyes confirmed this was serious. After a urine and finger prick test, Hayley was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. My heart sank, and an element of guilt washed over me. Looking back, we had no idea just how much this would change our lives forever.
Type 1 diabetes is a life-long autoimmune disease where the pancreas is unable to produce insulin, or very much of it. If left untreated, type 1 diabetes is fatal and the cause still remains a mystery.
A personal account- A day in the life of a Type 1 diabetic:
Many people don’t realise that having children with type 1 diabetes changes the lives of everyone close to them. Since Hayley’s diagnosis we juggle trying to lead a normal life between finger pricks and constant monitoring. For the time being Hayley can’t be on her own – which means carefully balancing and planning every single aspect of our lives.
Spontaneity is now extinct in our world! We meticulously plan our days and, if something unexpected arises, things go from hard to almost impossible.
But in all this craziness I know I’m lucky because of the unwavering support from my good friend Nicole. Her son Eric attends the same school as Hayley and we met through play group. Nicole’s been there for us from the start. She’s been my rock, a constant shoulder to lean on and a trusted ear to confide in.
But in a cruel turn, just six months after Hayley’s diagnosis, it was Nicole who needed me more than ever. In April this year, Nicole’s son Eric was showing the same signs as Hayley. His constant thirst, hunger and extreme weight loss were no longer symptoms to Nicole and myself – they were a diagnosis. I helped Nicole pack an overnight bag for the hospital and prepare for the news.
After all the 3am teary phone calls I was now the pillar to lean on. I’d been there and knew exactly the path Nicole and Eric were about to tread. While I had my own challenges to overcome with my family, I still went home after Eric’s diagnosis and cried for my friend and her son. I knew their lives would never be the same, much like my family’s never will be.
Many parents of children with type 1 diabetes are often alone in their struggle, as the attention is always on the child.
For many parents it’s a constant battle to create a somewhat ‘normal’ life for their children. Describing that to other people can be one of the hardest parts.
I’m lucky that Nicole and I only need to look into each other’s eyes and we get it; we understand each other without having to say a word.
On November 15th, we will be walking in the JDRF One Walk at Parramatta, and hopefully help in finding a cure for this disease.
Type 1 diabetes affects more than 120,000 Australians, with approximately 1,825 new diagnoses each year. To join us in walking for a cure, or donate to JDRF, please head to: walk.jdrf.org.au/