Life with a Type 1 Kid: The First Week

by Richmond Mom Sue Ayers
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After Emily’s diagnosis on January 22, we stayed in the hospital for two days. Fortunately, our health insurance allowed this. But on January 24, Emily was discharged. We had a ton of prescriptions, a box with her glucose meter, lancing device and testing strips, books, literature, discharge instructions and a bag of Band-Aids that the nurses were nice enough to give Emily because they had butterflies on them.

The only thing they did not provide was someone to come home with us and help us through this Type 1 diabetes thing!

On the way home, we dropped off the prescriptions at CVS hoping beyond hope that they would all be ready for us to pick up before the pharmacy closed that night. It was Sunday so they close early and would do so in just a mere two hours. I was frantic when the pharmacy attendant told me she would “try” to have everything filled before they closed. Try? Really? In retrospect, I should have taken the prescriptions to a place that was open twenty-four hours, but on that day I wasn’t thinking all too clearly and handed the prescriptions that were my daughter’s life-line over to a really nonchalant lady.

The next thing I had to worry about was feeding Emily since it was getting close to dinner. At the hospital, I was told to give Emily approximately 60 grams of carbohydrates with her meals. I mentally reviewed what they gave her to eat in the hospital and sadly realized I had, oh, about none of the things that they gave her to eat! In the hospital she ate scrambled eggs, pancakes with sugar-free syrup, fruit cups in sugar-free syrup, sugar-free Jell-O, lots of fresh fruit, and chicken and fish. We might have had a few eggs in the ‘fridge and possibly a bag of apples, but that was about it.

Meals were pretty much a hit-or-miss (mostly miss) affair in our house. As a single mom with a full-time job and a part-time freelance career, I tried to provide nutritious meals, but they certainly weren’t made-from-scratch dishes. As a matter of fact, when we met with the dietician the next day, she asked Emily what her normal diet entailed. Emily replied in her straight-up manner, “If it doesn’t come from a box, a bag or a can, we ain’t eatin’ it in our house”. Nice! All that would have to change.

Emily’s dad, Jimmie, headed out to the grocery store while we got settled in. While he was out, the pharmacy called and the medication and supplies were ready so he picked them up. We now had insulin to give Emily with dinner.

My biggest concern was that her sugar would drop profoundly and she would have a seizure or end up in a coma. That’s pretty rare, I found out later, but at that time, I was just beside myself with worry. I prepared her dinner of exactly sixty carbs and was on my own giving her insulin for the first time. My heart and my stomach traded places as I drew the insulin into the syringe. There was no RN looking over my shoulder (although I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that there was an angel right there on standby). I carefully wiped the injection site with alcohol and had a Band-Aid (with butterflies) at the ready. With a deep breath and a silent prayer that I hadn’t screwed up, I gave her the shot. We both survived.

Last week: The Hospital
Next week: Back to School
Sue Ayers is a freelance writer and training designer who resides in Richmond, VA

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