Life With a Type 1 Kid: The Hospital

by Richmond Mom Sue Ayers
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I don’t know about you but one of the last places on earth I want to be is the MCV emergency room on a Friday night in January. Still Swine Flu season, the waiting rooms were overflowing with patients, many of whom were wearing masks that covered their mouth and noses. I thought we would have quite the wait but again, I was wrong. We no more than sat down to wait when Emily was called into a triage room. Things moved quickly from there. Her sugar came down a bit but only to mid-400. They treated her and told me she would be going to a Pediatric Intensive Care Step-Down unit so she could have constant care. Around ten that night, Emily was settled in her ‘room’ and I was allowed to stay with her.

Throughout that weekend, they gave us a ton of material to read: books to learn how to count carbs, the Pink Panther book about Type 1 diabetes, DVDs, phone numbers, instructions, and so much more. It was an incredibly overwhelming experience and I could not, for the life of me, imagine how we were going to survive. My heart broke for Emily who would have to endure the painful injections and glucose checks which added up to about ten per day.

The staff at MCV couldn’t have been better. Emily bonded quickly with Tom, the RN in the pediatric unit. He explained Type 1 diabetes in a way she could understand and helped her to feel confident that she would be able to give herself insulin and test her sugar. He assured her that, after awhile, it would become second nature. He also explained the benefits of summer camps for diabetics and how helpful it is for the kids to be around others who are going through the same thing.

One of the physicians who checked in on Emily from the MCV Pediatric Endocrinology unit had been diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at the age of seven. What an amazing experience to meet a woman who had the same diagnosis as Emily and grew up to be a doctor! We talked with her at length about diabetes and were surprised to find out that she had never once been admitted to the hospital for Type 1 complications!!
On Saturday morning, Tom explained that I should start giving Emily her insulin injections since I will primarily be administering the insulin to her at home. He gave us an orange to practice on and, while I appreciated the gesture, it is a little different to stick a needle into your own kid’s skin. But I knew Emily needed the insulin to live so I sucked it up and did my best.

(Emily is such a trooper – she assures me constantly that it doesn’t hurt but I can see it on her face – it does! Sometimes I ask her why she says she doesn’t feel the shots and she tells me she doesn’t want me to feel bad when I hurt her!)

We left MCV on Sunday afternoon armed with literature and prescriptions – at least 10 of them! We had an appointment to go see our Endocrinologist on Tuesday but for the next day and a half, we were on our own!
Next week: Our first week with diabetes.

Last week: The Diagnosis

Sue Ayers is a freelance writer and training designer who resides in Richmond, VA