Ellie, nicknamed "Squish", was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes (T1D) at only 2 years, 4 months old on February 26, 2013. Life as we knew it was gone. Jason and I are devastated and working toward acceptance. We have a whole new vocabulary, new inventory of medical supplies, new doctors, new expenses, new routine, new job (full time pancreas), and a whole new world of concerns. Our marriage is weathering the financial stress of going from a dual income to single income while absorbing an increase in medical bills and prescriptions. While things have been difficult, our marriage has strengthened.
Beyond Jason and myself, JP has been the most amazing and protective big brother. At 5 years old, he reminds us to check her blood sugar and he is the 'food police' by making sure she doesn't get into food. JP picked up a summer job walking our neighbor's dog. He decided all on his own to give all his money to "diabetes re-church so Ellie can stop getting chots". JP has accepted the position of Team Captain for our Walk.
Our New Life:
Every single meal of every single day, we think and worry about this awful disease. There is no down time from diabetes. Ellie is insulin dependent and needs a shot for every meal and any snack that is over 11 carbohydrates.
Every morning we make breakfast together and I place the meal in front of Ellie. She knows that she must wait to get her finger poke (or 'pokey-pokey' as we call it) prior to that first delicious bite. She is so patient. Even when the aroma of the food hits her little nose and she gets excited to eat, she knows she cannot take a bite until we do a blood sugar test. Ellie loves food so much that, as sad as this may seem, she sometimes says, "I love pokey-pokey!". This is only because there is a delicious meal to follow it. However, every time that needle hits her finger she still says, "Ouchy! That hurt!".
After each meal she gets her insulin shot. She gets two for breakfast, one for lunch and another for dinner. She hates the shots, hates them. When she was first diagnosed, it was no picnic because all kids hate needles. I was assured "It will get easier" or "she'll get used to it". That has not been the case for us. She now physically fights us and wiggles, negotiates, runs, changes the subject, acts silly... anything to get out of it.
Three hours after dinner, she must be tested again. This is often after she has gone to bed. I sneak into her room, grab her little pinky finger and administer the blood glucose test. We save the pinky finger for night time because it bleeds the best and we don't want to wake her due to failed attempts. If she is low, I wake her and give her a snack. On nights like this, she will eat her snack while still asleep. If she is high, I prepare insulin. Jason and I sneak into her room. He usually gives her a sweet kiss on the cheek while holding her leg down tightly while I inject the insulin. She then yells at us (rightfully so!) and we run out apologizing along the way with our tails tucked between our legs. Once we hit the hallway, we both let out a deep exhale and embrace each other. Sometimes I cry, but no words are spoken. We both know another day is done and our daughter is alive.
Lastly, I check her again at 2AM. This is only on nights where a snack or insulin is given to make sure she does not drop too low or spike too high. If another correction is made, I get up again at 5AM. After all, a pancreas never sleeps.
Our Concerns About T1D:
I sincerely appreciate it when people ask questions or show interest in learning about T1D and gladly share details in a matter of fact tone. However, when the conversation turns to our concerns about Ellie's health and future, I immediately feel a giant lump in my throat and my eyes well up. As her mother and primary care taker (Jason is VERY involved but works full time and travels), I have found my temporary survival technique is to simply think about today only. The second I think about the years that lie ahead, I get very emotional, depressed, and overwhelmed.
We worry about her kidney's, vision, high and low blood sugars especially at night, ketone's, Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA, which is a toxic acidic buildup in the body), hospitalizations over the simplest of ailments due to a compromised immune system, other autoimmune diseases common to T1 diabetics such as Celiac Disease or Hypothyroidism, sneaking food, feeling ostracized by the disease, her anger and frustrations, managing it at school, the irresponsible teenage years, driving with a low, finding a spouse that will support her with the disease, choosing a career for happiness as opposed to health insurance, seizures, and diabetic coma... to name a few!
Why Is JDRF Important To Us?:
We feel like JDRF is working toward something that we are unable to focus on, much less think about... tomorrow. They are focused on the future, the research, the CURE. Since we are so newly diagnosed, we simply cannot look at the big picture beyond our daily struggles. It offers us a great deal of comfort knowing that JDRF is covering that for us.
The money we raise will help JDRF fund critical research to progressively remove the impact of T1D from people's lives. This science is complex and costly, and every dollar JDRF is able to direct toward research comes from donors like you.
Please support Ellie and donate to our Walk fundraising campaign. Your gift will make a difference for millions of people affected by this devastating, life-threatening disease.
Thank you for your support!
The Villalpando Family
Jason, Mary, JP, and Ellie (aka Squish)
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Carol Erickson/Bud Villalpando
Miss Megan L Anderson
Mr. Brian LeBlanc
Mrs. Shannon Huber
Ms. Carol Cronin
Ms. Colleen LeBlanc