Audrey is the youngest of our six amazing children. She has a feisty way that makes a mother proud. She challenges her older brothers, hollers when upset, and climbs the dirt hill in our backyard without any hesitation. When she slides down or falls, she picks herself up with dirt-stained knees and waves to me at the window. Though she is only two years old, her smart, absorbent, and kind personality has already begun to blossom. My husband and I would say, “When you’re the youngest of six children you need to be strong.”
During Christmas we traveled to see my family in Las Vegas from Northern Utah. During that time our little Audrey naturally weaned. I had decided to let her breastfeed until she naturally wanted as she is our last baby. Within a few days I noticed her thirst. She asked for bottles full of water often. And in turn was soaking through diapers one after another. As she was newly weaned, I assumed that she was using the bottle as a supplemental comfort. This continued even after we came home around New Years. I had turned to my husband and said, “We need to size up her diapers.”
After the holiday season, I found my life quite disorganized. So the following Monday, when school and work started again, I found myself focused on routines and organizing. That evening my husband and I went to a play I had got him for Christmas. When we got home my oldest son, who had been babysitting, told me how Audrey had soaked through her clothes again onto the couch. Her nap had been a bit longer that day, but I simple turned to my husband and remarked, “She must be growing.”
Tuesday morning Audrey woke up with an appetite and thirst. “Ah, yes, she is about to have a growth spurt.” I thought. Quickly after eating she fell back asleep. And this repeated throughout the day, waking to eat and quickly falling asleep. That night I felt concerned and called the pediatrician. They asked me a series of questions but ended by saying “Wait a couple days to come in.”
Wednesday morning Audrey woke and ate like the Very Hungry Caterpillar eating through one bowl of oatmeal, one apple, one banana.. and so forth. This was comforting to my husband and I until she once again promptly fell asleep. At this time I posted on insta stories about my daughter with the weird sickness. “She has extreme fatigue. No cold symptoms, cough, fever, or stomach aches”
When I posted this an old neighbor friend contacted me and asked further about Audrey. “Has she been urinating alot? Has she been hungry? Has she been thirst?” She asked. “Yes, yes, yes.” Were my answers. “I’m not trying to scare you but these were symptoms my son had with Type 1 Diabetes.” I quickly googled “TYPE 1 DIABETES”. You know how when you’re sick you google and WebMD says you’re going to die? We’ll this had led to me becoming desensitized and assuming that it’s never the worst. That is what I thought as I read through the symptoms.
“Will you zip up my dress? Should we leave Audrey? I’m worried.” I asked my husband while getting ready for a wedding reception Wednesday night. My brother-in-law is a family doctor in Oregon. Before leaving we called him about Audrey who laid still sleeping on our bed. At this time it was like we already knew something was really wrong in our hearts.
After talking to my brother in law and all other thoughts we had had, my husband and I turned to each other and decided we should take her to the hospital that Wednesday night. Like a light switch my husband went into panic mode, grabbing the keys, loading Audrey into the car, and grabbing a few items. I had to remind him to change out of his dress clothes.
I felt a prompting in my mind to grab my birth control and toiletry items like I knew I wouldn’t be coming home that night. And we loaded into the car leaving our oldest teenager in charge. When we arrived at the ER around 7:00 pm we told the nurse Audreys symptoms and mentioned Type 1 Diabetes. She casually grabbed a glucose meter and said, “That’s a simple thing to test for. Let’s start there so we can rule it out and move on to other possibilities.”
Pricking her finger, she looked at the monitor and waited for the results from Audreys blood. From the moment her eyes lit up things went fast. She looked up wide-eyed and got up. Walking out the door she simply turned to my husband and I and said, “ I have to get a doctor.” The room was quiet. My husband and I, frozen.
Immediately my daughter had an IV. We were being told many things including that she most likely had diabetes. We had many doctors in the room with a few quiet moments in between. At one of these moments my husband, Jason, began sobbing. I held him repeating, “It will be ok. It will be ok. It will be ok.”
After blood tests it was determined that Audrey needed insulin immediately. We later found out the nurses eyes became wide because Audreys blood glucose monitor was so high the monitor could not read it. And after blood work was done it was determined she was 770 and DKA (Diabetic ketoacidosis) .
We were rushed to Primary Childrens via ambulance. One of the paramedics happened to be diabetic. We talked some fo the ride, some of the ride I turned my head and cried. Before me on a gurney was my little baby barely moving.
Once we arrived at Primary Childrens it was a steady stream of doctors and information. At one point though a few doctors came in and started asking Audrey questions like “Where is your arm?” And “How old are you?”
In the moment I felt stunned as I watched my Audrey lay on the hospital bed eyes glazed. The questions became simpler and and simpler until they asked “Where’s Daddy?” And Audreys eyes darted to Jason. “Where’s Mommy?” The doctor asked, and Audreys eyes darted and met mine. There she was, she was still here.
We later found out that these tests would indicate how much her body had been affected by the DKA. And if she would not have responded, they would have had Audrey moved into the ICU.
DRINKING FROM A FIREHOSE
It was 1:00am right before the last nurse left. Before leaving she sat down with us and started telling us worst case scenarios. She elaborated on some of the hard situations we may find with Audrey. Some of these included losing limbs and being hospitalized. After hours of trauma, this was my breaking point. I looked this nurse in the face and sternly said, “I’m sorry, it’s late, I’m so worn out and I’m not sure why we’re talking about this right now.” She stopped abruptly and left. Immediately after, I cried in my husband’s arms.
We were in Primary Children’s hospital for three days. The first 24 hours were mostly monitoring and seeing Audreys energy come back. She had been on an IV drip with insulin, saline, and sugar water. We quickly were learning how powerful Insulin is. At one point the next day, Thursday, Audrey became more coherent. She looked down at her arms, one IV and a blood pressure cuff with fingers full of bandaids, and cried.
For the next two days Jason and I did required classes and online training on how to take care of Audrey. She started becoming our energetic little girl and we started giving her doses and practicing how to count carbs. Between the emotional experience and knowledge dump I couldn’t think of anything else. It felt very surreal.
We had told family, friends, and social media at this time and we felt a tremendous amount of love. But I could not answer text messages. My brain hurt. All I could do was take each moment at a time. While at the hospital we were woken up often. So sleep deprivation did not help. But I slept next to Audrey every night. It was a comfort to hold her. The last day, Friday, Audrey seemed to have life come back to her. We walked the halls together even. Friday we took Audrey home.
I looked out to the mountains as the sun set on our drive home. Then I looked back at Audrey in her carseat with our bag of medicine, needles, and monitors. It hit me, this was reality. I cried most of the drive home. But walking into the door was a beautiful moment. Our kids had made signs for Audrey and there were gifts and goodies.
Neighbors brought us dinners for days as we settled into caring for Audrey. It wasn’t easy and even though its now been a month it’s been an ongoing adjustment. We were able to get the Dexcom continuous glucose monitor which made checking Audreys levels much easier. In fact it is seriously amazing! We also have become much better at carb counting and learning how Audreys levels work and how her body responds.
Some challenges we have faced are Jason getting covid a week after we got home from the hospital, Tanner breaking his arm, and now Audrey going into the honeymoon phase. Learning to take Audrey places, eat out, or even eat with extended family has been a challenge. But we are learning.
Life has been busy between all the medical appointments and caring for Audrey. Some days I feel emotional and other days I feel put together. Audrey is mostly as happy as ever. We call her insulin shots her “dose”. She knows we’ll now what her “dose” is. She’s very proud of her Dexcom and will show it off proudly. We’ve tried to normalize her diabeties with books and toys. We even met another little girl who also has Type 1. Audrey still remains a strong and feisty little warrior. We love her and I hug her often thankful for medicine and the change I get to see her grow into an amazing lady.
Every day we are learning more. I hope to share more of Audreys journey. For now, we take one day at a time. Our hearts or grateful.