Diagnosis Day, the day that life, as you know it, changes…
Do you have a 'Diagnosis Day'? It's the day that life, as you know it, changes. From this day forward, you are asked to live a new way, take care of your body in ways you never had to before. You'll be asked to learn, experience, engage in a new dynamic in life that you may have never experienced before. You may experience uncertainty, denial, fear, grief, discouragement, shock, trauma, loss of control and more. My 'Diagnosis Day' came on Aug 19, 2009 - the day my 9 yr old daughter was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. She had been sick for weeks prior, drinking a ton of water, peeing a lot, losing weight, becoming weaker everyday to the point that she couldn't come on walks, ride her bike or go to the grocery store. We were about to drive from BC to AB for my grandfather's funeral and thought we'd pop in quickly to the Dr.'s to see if she had an infection or something that we could quickly treat before our trip. We didn't end up in AB. The Dr. called us with the results of her blood test and told us to go straight to the hospital as her ketone's were very high - her body was surviving by pulling all the nutrients from her fat stores. She was being eaten alive by her body. The surreal feel of the moment before and after knowing she was very ill, felt like a vast crevice of nothingness to me. We were supposed to rush to the hospital, but I just couldn't do it. I hunkered down in the house with both my kids and shut out the world, hoping that it would right itself. If we didn't open the front door - we'd be safe, right? I was being asked to move over the threshold of the unknown. What was it going to look like? Would she be ok? What would I do with my son? (I was a single mom at the time) Was the innocence of life gone forever? We made it to the hospital after they called and insisted we get there, nearly 5 hrs later. Moments were about to get increasingly harder. I had to call on every ounce of strength, endurance, advocacy, mama bear power just to get through the next 24 hours. She was poked and prodded, so much unpleasantness. Her screams made my heart raw. She was in pain, subjected to so much out of her control. How do you explain to a 9 year old that from this moment on, you must inject yourself with a syringe of insulin every single day, multiple times a day for the rest of your life? You must poke your finger and draw blood multiple times a day/night. How do you explain that you can no longer eat carefreely? How do you explain that you must count every carb, record everything you eat, no more random snacks, treats? No more jumping on your bike whenever you wish. Every activity must be accounted for - recorded, planned, prepared. You will always carry around a pack with your life-saving devices, emergency juice boxes, syringe, insulin, poker, water. You will never be a free-standing human ever again. You will always be attached to something.... because your pancreas no longer works. You must do the work of a pancreas.
And we did it!
We faced the daily challenges with courage, optimism, normalcy, grace and dignity. We recruited friends and family to help out. We studied and learned about technology to improve day-to-day management. We turned inward, to our family, to learn how to live in this new way. And today, she thrives. She’s mentored other children going through this journey too. She has a career that she loves. She has an outlook on life that calls on putting her best self forward - everyday.
Diagnosis day now is the day that we had the opportunity to live life in a new way. To appreciate the moments of joy. To celebrate being alive. To be grateful for those who have come before us and invented insulin and technology. We hope for a cure. But for now, let's celebrate the gift of life.
These are the experiences that make a mark on our lives and form us into the people we are in years to come. Have you recently had a 'Diagnosis Day'? Where are you on your diagnosis journey? How are you coping? Can you see the moments of love and light even on the hardest days? Do you need some guidance in your journey? I'm here. I'm willing to sit through the hard stuff with you.