We were headed to the doctor for routine checkups, and Grace was thrilled she and her new brother, Sean, could go together. Dressed head to toe in her favorite color purple, she told Sean how to be brave for a checkup. Meanwhile, I told the doctor of some symptoms Grace was experiencing and after a quick test, came the diagnosis: "Grace has Type 1 Diabetes," the doctor said. "You need to go to Children's Hospital emergency room right away." Grace was in Diabetic Ketoacidosis, a life threatening complication of Type 1 Diabetes. I froze. How? When? Why? All at once, questions filled my head and tears filled my eyes. I knew very little about the disease, but I did know this meant Grace would be insulin dependent for the rest of her life. Forever. No cure. No escape. No day off. No matter what. Type 1 Diabetes is an autoimmune disease in which a person's pancreas stops producing insulin. Its onset has nothing to do with diet or lifestyle. There is nothing we could have done to prevent it, and - at present - nothing we can do to get rid of it. How could this happen to a sweet and loving four year old? How could her life have suddenly changed so drastically? Wasn't she just explaining doctor appointments to Sean?
It's been seven months since Diagnosis Day and we're still figuring this disease out. But here's what we have learned: Grace is a stronger and braver little kid than we could have ever imagined. Every day she endures at least six finger pricks and five insulin shots. She knows she cannot take even one bite of food unless it is measured, weighed, calculated and accompanied by an insulin injection. Most days she accepts that these are just things she needs to do to stay healthy, but occasionally she'll ask when her diabetes will go away or if I had diabetes when I was little. Both are questions I hate answering.
As soon as Grace was diagnosed, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) offered us support. JDRF is the leading organization for Type 1 Diabetes research and is led by people with a personal connection to the disease. We need JDRF and their research to help Grace and others with Type 1 live a normal and healthy life. We want our daughter to go to school, make friends, and teach her little brothers how to play soccer; not continually worry about blood sugar, insulin, test strips, or counting carbs.
On Saturday, Sept. 13, we invite you to join us in taking steps to cure Type 1 Diabetes. Please join our team "Amazing Grace" for the JDRF 2014 Walk to Cure Diabetes. It's a fun, 2 ½ mile walk through the Milwaukee County Zoo and you'll be helping JDRF continue researching ways to make life a little easier for kids like Grace. You can join our team or donate by clicking on the "View My Team Page" button above. You can also donate via check made payable to: Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. All donations are tax deductible. If you have any questions feel free to email Maureen at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We appreciate your support and hope to see you at the walk. Just look for the team in purple.