A few months before her Type 1 Diabetes diagnosis, my 19-month-old daughter required IV rehydration in the ER following 48 hours of vomiting due to a stomach bug. Her chemistry panel showed a fasting blood glucose level of 128 mg/dl. I remember feeling a distinct pit in my stomach when the doctor was going over her lab values with me. 128 mg/dl? As a R.N., I recognized that 128mg/dl seemed a bit high for a fasting BG. When I questioned it, the ER physician agreed that 128mg/dl was “on the high side”, but attributed it to her illness.
I accepted her explanation of the lab value, and that was that. After some IV fluids, nausea medication, and another day of rest, she started feeling better. Life went on as normal.
But The Pit in my stomach never went away.
The first time she woke up with sheets drenched in urine, The Pit flared up. The first time she was sitting on my lap, and her diaper leaked, The Pit started knocking. The first time she downed 8 ounces of water before begging for more, The Pit began screaming.
The Pit was nagging enough that I discussed my concerns during her 2 year well visit, but the pediatrician didn’t see any reason to investigate further. He casually told me to keep any eye on her symptoms. I left that appointment figuring that I was just being an over reactive first time mother.
Three weeks later, I took my daughter back to the office. This time they called 911 for an ambulance transfer to the ER. Later that afternoon, she was flown to the PICU via helicopter. Her diagnosis: Diabetic Ketoacidosis.
“A hunch”, “a knack, “an inkling”. Call it what you may, but there is no disregarding the familiar instinct I have come to know as The Pit.
Mothers comprise a substantial portion of the diabetes community, both online and off. Whether a mother is the parent of a child with diabetes, a person with diabetes herself, or both, there is no denying the impact that mothers make in the lives around them. The mothers I’ve encountered in our diabetes bubble seem to have a common ground: They each have an inherent desire to protect, nurture, and teach their children the ways of the world.
Science cannot explain the instinctual phenomena, commonly called “maternal instinct” (i.e. The Pit), but it is this intuitive response that has been known to wake a mother from a deep slumber with an undeniable urge to test her child’s blood sugar immediately – more often than not, she will discover a blood sugar issue that requires an intervention.
It is the The Pit that captivates a mother, and forces her to stare a little deeper from the side lines, looking for symptoms of trouble that only she can recognize. It is The Pit that stuffs a few extra glucose tablets in her child’s pocket before they run out the door to play. It is The Pit that comes up with Plan A, B, and C for any given scenario, but is always ready with Plan D, just in case.
Sometimes The Pit feels literal. Sick day management, ketones, numbers, numbers, and more numbers! The truth is that, oftentimes, raising a child with diabetes is…THE PITS! When blood sugar mayhem breaks out, mothers may find themselves at the bottom of a confusing pit of emotion. It takes time and experience to learn the difference between intuition and anxiety.
Oh, but when The Pit is on the top of its game!!! How quickly things can turn around when The Pit takes over, and things begin to fall back into place!
My daughter’s diabetes diagnosis taught me never to ignore The Pit. It taught me to advocate for all my children, even when it seems no one will listen. I have come to regard The Pit as a tool that will help to shape me into the best mother I can be.
To all the mothers reading this, I wish you a very happy Mother’s Day.
I’m glad we’re in this pit together.