On Friday, December 2, 2016 our family’s life changed forever. Our 12 year old daughter, Ella came home from school and started telling me symptoms that she was having. What she didn’t know was that she was telling me symptoms of diabetes, such as: increased thirst, increased urination, fatigue and weight loss. We borrowed a neighbor’s glucometer and all sat at our table while we poked Ella’s finger. The glucometer read over 600, too high to read. We went directly to Bronson and Ella was admitted to the pediatric intensive care unit and was newly diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder called type 1 diabetes. Her blood glucose was actually 609 and she was in diabetic ketoacidosis.
Ella walked out of the hospital 2 days later on a cold, gloomy day as a type 1 diabetic. We left with a small mountain of diabetic test strips, insulin, needles, syringes, books to read and just felt so incredibly overwhelmed. That poor girl has been poked and poked, just so that she can stay alive. She progressed from approximately 10 pokes a day injecting insulin and poking her finger to check her glucose every time that she eats, advancing to a glucose monitor that she constantly wears and an insulin pump. Her pokes each day are down to approximately 2-4 times and we are honestly thankful for that. Ella constantly carries a stylish little purse with her that is filled with lifesaving supplies. A glucometer, candy in case she goes low, a glucagon kit in case she passes out. She counts carbs every time she eats, no matter where she’s at and gives herself insulin. The last thing Ella ate without external insulin was a piece of baked chicken and a potato for dinner on 12/2/2016.
But, not all is bad. We’ve met people that we would have never otherwise had the privilege to know. We met the Knash family. Not only have they been mentors and friends to us through this journey. Through their Rylee Lou Charity, they actually sent Ella to camp Midicha. A camp where she wasn’t the only one counting carbs and giving herself insulin. Where she could just play and have fun like every other summer camp. Ella today, is back in gymnastics and teaches a T1D lesson for 6th grade health every trimester at her school. We have also started a local support group called Glucose Stalkers: T1D support group of Southwest Michigan to support other families, which has grown to almost 70 members in just over a year. Ella is an advocate and a leader of her circumstance, not a victim. Ella’s life continues to be amazing and awesome, she just has to do extra steps to stay healthy.