Welcome to my personal JDRF Walk to Cure Diabetes fundraising page!
I'll be taking part in this year's Walk to raise funds for the millions of people living with and affected by type 1 diabetes (T1D). The money I raise will help JDRF fund critical research to progressively remove the impact of T1D from people's lives until no one has to fear developing the disease.
Type 1 diabetes is a life-threatening autoimmune disease in which a person's pancreas stops producing insulin - a hormone essential to the ability to get energy from food. It strikes both children and adults suddenly and changes life as they know it forever. It cannot be prevented and there is no cure.
JDRF is the largest nongovernmental funder of T1D research and the only global organization with a strategic research plan to fight T1D. This science is complex and costly, and every dollar JDRF is able to direct toward research comes from donors like you.
Please support me and donate to my Walk fundraising campaign. Your gift will make a difference for millions of people affected by this devastating, life-threatening disease. Won't you please give to JDRF as generously as possible today?
Thank you for your support!
Erin's story is just beginning.
Her D-Day, as we call it, was June 11th of this year. We were in the midst of relocating
to Georgia from North Carolina. The kids had gotten out of school on Friday, June 7th,
and we made the drive down on Saturday. It should have taken us about 5.5 hours. It took us 7.
Erin and I got in a HUGE fight on the drive because I took away her water bottle.
The other two trips we'd taken to Georgia in the previous three weeks had taken us forever because
Erin was drinking constantly and then, of course, we had to stop to go to the bathroom.
This time we didn't leave until late so I said no water or it will be after midnight before we get there.
I really didn't think it would be that big of a deal and they should be asleep for the last couple of hours anyway.
About an hour in, Erin wanted her water and just wouldn't let it go.
I relented to just a sip, but she kept sneaking it and boy, did I get mad at her!
We finally made it to Georgia and got settled into the hotel.
The kids were excited about being out of school, living in a hotel for a bit, and being in a new place.
Monday Dennis had to work and the kids and I were going to look for stuff to do for the rest of the week.
We bought tickets for Legoland Discovery Center in Atlanta for Tuesday.
E was still drinking like crazy so I decided to keep count on Monday -
10 water bottles plus 2-3 glasses of milk at each meal.
Dennis and I were talking about how excessive it seemed, but it was hot and she's an active kid
so we just weren't sure what to think. We put her to bed at 8 with a bottle of water, by her request.
A little before 9 we caught her sneaking to the fridge for another bottle of water.
She giggled and said, "What? I'm just thirsty!"
That was pretty much it for me. I knew something was going on, I just didn't know what.
We talked about what it could be, but neither her dad nor I were really sure.
And then it hit me...
You know how sometimes you just remember stuff for no good reason?
I think God plucks these thoughts out and pulls them forward at just the right time.
A boy Erin had gone to preschool with years ago was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes a couple of years before. Somehow I remembered his mom posting on Facebook about how he had been drinking huge amounts of water and having to go to the bathroom all the time. I thought it was pretty far fetched - after all -
How do you just "get diabetes"?
I decided to schedule a doctor's appointment the next morning.
Tuesday comes. I tell the kids we are taking Erin to the doctor if we can get an appointment,
they'll tell me I'm crazy and everything's fine, and then we will go to Legoland.
From Erin - You're taking me to the doctor for drinking water?
Yes, I know. Just humor me.
I did a google search for Kennesaw pediatricians and called the first one that popped up.
They had a 9:30 appointment available. Wow, I thought, that's quick, especially as a new patient.
Awesome, we can go in, they'll tell us she's fine (and I'm crazy) and we'll go on about our day.
I tell the nurse I have been reading about what drinking a lot could mean, and I thought it was a symptom of diabetes, so I just wanted to have her checked and make sure she was okay.
She looked at me like I was crazy and said let's get her to pee in a cup and we'll see.
No problem, she has to pee all the time.
About ten minutes later the doctor comes in and asks us a bunch of questions.
And then from the doctor - Well, her urine does show sugar present, so we want to do a blood test.
Okay - that's weird - but go ahead. Erin looked at me with a confused look.
I reassured her that they just wanted to make sure there was nothing wrong that was
making her thirsty all the time, it would just be a quick little finger prick, and then we could go.
20 minutes later the doctor comes back and I will never forget what she said.
"Her blood sugar level is over 700 so we are going to need you to go straight to the ER.
You don't have to go in the ambulance, we will let you drive her.
You need to go as soon as possible.
They will be waiting for you.
It does appear that she has diabetes."
What?? They were supposed to tell me that I was crazy.
I'm amazed that I didn't fall apart right then and there.
God gives you the strength to do what you have to do though.
We got directions to the Children's Hospital of Atlanta at Scottish Rite and were sent on our way.
I called Dennis in the parking lot.
She has it -- diabetes.
I called my mom on the way.
Erin has diabetes, we're going to the emergency room in Atlanta.
I cried as quietly as I could without letting the kids hear me.
I had no idea what any of this really meant, but I knew that our lives had changed with those words.
The kids were super confused, but calm. They were very disappointed we weren't going to Legoland,
but I think knowing a trip to the ER was necessary enforced the fact that there were
bigger things to think about. I promised them we'd make it to Legoland as soon as this was sorted out.
We went straight back at the ER without waiting. They took her vitals and some blood.
They confirmed the pediatrician results and sent us to a room. They took more blood - lots and lots of blood. Erin was seriously calm through all of this.
She was just being Erin.
She was chatting it up with the nursing staff, and taking it all in.
It's hard to remember sometimes that she's just 8 years old.
A couple of hours went by and we were admitted for a three day stay -
a day to get her sugar level down and somewhat stable, and two days of education.
We had a lot to learn! The hospital staff was amazing and I signed off on being able to care for her.
When I look back over the two months prior to D-Day, I see the signs clearly.
We couldn't make it from her school to her brother's school for pickup
without her complaining about having to go to the bathroom.
She would get upset with her teacher for not letting her go to the water fountain again.
She missed two days of her last week of school. She had a headache one day, which I attributed
to new glasses, and she missed the last day of school because she drank five glasses of milk
with dinner the night before and threw up for the next two hours.
She had to go to bathroom three times during her soccer tryout sessions the two days after Memorial Day.
She was tired and hungry all the time.
I could kick myself for not knowing sooner.
I feel awful for all the times I yelled at her about having to go to the bathroom again.
I feel terrible for not cutting her some slack when she acted out about the smallest little thing.
And that last trip to Georgia before D-Day, where I actually took her water away from her?? UGH!
I know I couldn't have changed the outcome or prevented it from happening,
but I hate knowing that her little body was so out of whack for so long
while this beast known as diabetes was just lurking and waiting to present itself.
I thank God every day that her diagnosis came from my curiosity,
and not with ketoacidosis. I read stories all the time where kids with sugar levels lower than hers was
end up in a coma, or worse, before the parents find out what is wrong,
and I can only imagine how horrible that would be.
Now our lives have changed forever.
Erin has to prick her finger 10 or more times a day to see what her blood sugar level is.
She has a normal range that she should be in of 70 to 150 mg/dL,
but then she has to be over 160 to exercise,
and over 100 to go to bed at night.
We have directions of what to do if she's less than 70,
higher than 200,
or higher than 300.
She gets a shot of long lasting insulin every morning as soon as she gets up.
EVERYTHING that she eats and drinks has to be thought out ahead of time, counted and measured.
She has a carb to insulin ratio for every meal and snack time
so we know how much fast acting insulin to give her in a shot.
That's 4-6 shots a day.
In the 11 short weeks she has been diagnosed,
she has had over 300 shots and pricked her finger over 700 times.
Her poor little finger tips look like sieves.
She has to carry around a bag of snacks and juice boxes, quick sticks and glucose tablets,
and a glucagon pen for when she is low and in case of an emergency.
We carry ketone strips that she has to pee on to check for ketones in case she's too high.
There's never an hour that goes by that one of us isn't thinking about her diabetes.
We don't get a break. Ever.
And I say we because our whole family is affected.
Everyone has to know what to do for her.
We all know she gets shaky when she's low.
We definitely know that if she has a good temper tantrum like a toddler then she is high.
Her brother gets put last often because I have to take care of her first.
With all of this, Erin is amazing.
She has never cried about having diabetes.
She complains occasionally, but not daily.
She is not ashamed and knows that it won't change who she is.
She pricks her own finger and gives a lot of her own shots.
She checks her sugar at soccer practice twice a week when she needs to
and has a quick snack or drinks some water depending on what her number is.
She got permission from her doctor to do some of her blood sugar checks
in the classroom so she wouldn't have to miss as much class going to the nurse.
She knows what a free snack is versus a shot snack and
she chooses to eat a healthy free snack at school every morning
so she won't have to miss class to get a shot for it.
She wants to educate the world about diabetes so everyone will understand why a cure is needed.
Diabetes is definitely not the worse thing that can happen. There are worse diseases.
But it is still dreadful. It is lifelong. Like I said, you cannot take a break from it - ever.
You cannot leave the house without insulin, sugar, a glucose monitor,
test strips, lancets, etc because your life depends on it.
You cannot skip a 2 am blood sugar check after a soccer day because you're too tired to get up.
You cannot pretend your sugar level isn't low so you don't have to miss recess or PE yet again.
You cannot cheat diabetes or ignore it because it doesn't go away.
I truly believe God chose Erin specifically for this disease.
She is so strong and smart and independent.
She understands it and she knows how to handle it.
She has parents that would do anything to make sure she is cared for
and to provide her with everything she could possibly need.
She has a brother who is kind and patient and loving and
can deal with coming second more than he should have to.
But Erin is only 8.
She has a long life ahead of her.
I hope and pray for a cure everyday so that her entire life is not consumed by diabetes.
I got to meet with the kids' teachers this week at curriculum night and
hear about what they will be learning this year.
Erin's brother, who is 10, has been reading a book called Wonder in class.
His reading teacher shared with me that they've talked about wishes.
If you could wish for anything in the entire world, what would it be?
In asking him this question, he shared with his whole class that his little sister had diabetes
and if he had just one wish, it would be for a cure for her
so that she doesn't have to get shots and finger pricks
and worry so much about everything she eats.
We are walking as a family this year and raising money to go towards
research to find a cure, better treatments, and prevention of diabetes.
We would love your help in making this dream of a life without diabetes a reality.
Here are a few ways you can help:
1. You can join our team, raise donations, and walk with us at Centennial Park in Atlanta on October 19th.
Erin would LOVE to have a huge slumber party at our house if anyone wants to come down for the walk.
2. If you are unable to walk with us, you can go to our personal fundraising webpage and make a donation.
3. You can forward this letter to all of your family and friends to help us raise money for JDRF.
To join the team and make donations go to walk.jdrf.org and search for our team, Sugardragons... BAM,
or Erin Hall, in Georgia, under the Donate to a Walker section, or follow the link above.
Thank you so much for reading our story!
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Company Girl Scouts Carolinas P2P
Daniel Vick and Sandy Marshall
Dennis and Elizabeth Hall
Grand Aunt Kathy
Jimmy & Virginia Greer
Katherine Miller & Family
Patrick, Nancy, Braeden & Sarah
Phil & Linda
Roger and Deidra Gilbert
The Adams Family
The Grew Family
The Palma Family