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When Life Hands You Type 1 Diabetes: Part One

Sharing the first part of our daughter's Type 1 Diabetes and Celiac Disease diagnosis at eight years old. Read more on KaraLayne.com

 “We have an ambulance on the way because we need to get her transferred up to Nashville.”

A cold rush moved through my body and I felt my lungs tighten, unable to exhale. We had brought her into the ER for stomach pain. Maybe appendicitis. And now the ER doctor was telling me there was something seriously wrong with my daughter without telling me something was seriously wrong. You know, the way doctors do to prevent you from freaking out. But I was already there. Jarett and I both – we knew something wasn’t right.

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A little prelude

Hi there! It’s been some time since this corner of the internet felt like it had a pulse. Thirty-six days to be exact. If you are new here, hi! I hope you are getting comfortable and enjoying your time here. If you have been a friend for a while, I appreciate you sticking around and waiting for me. I’m sure you have wondered where the heck I have been, but as any mother knows, when something happens to one of your cubs? Everything stops. 

While sharing has always been of the therapeutic variety for me, I realized how much trauma we really had experienced from last month because every time I sat down to write it all out, I would find myself exhausted. It has taken a month of just sitting in this “new normal” (goodness gracious, I hate that phrase) for me to finally be able to share what our family and our sweet Blair have experienced. It has taken a month for me not to cry the moment I open my mouth to talk about it. And even now, as I write this, I am shocked by the symptoms and how physically ill I feel. Post traumatic stress disorder is no joke!

So get comfortable, grab a snack and let me start at the very beginning of this story. Part one of ‘When Life Hands You Type 1 Diabetes’.

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Motherly intuition kicks in

She seemed more tired than usual and I was going through my motherly motions of figuring out what it could be. She wasn’t her normal, giggly self. And if you know Blair, you know she has the sweetest and spunkiest giggle that is truly infectious. Is she drinking enough water? Could she be going through a growth spurt? Maybe a mild virus? It wore on me while we were on our vacation in Florida at the end of April. I watched her like a hawk and I couldn’t shake the feeling that there was something going on, I just didn’t know what. It consumed so much of my mind that I wondered if I was seeing things. We were on the beach and I watched Blair as she looked for seashells. Her tummy looked more prominent than it ever had. Or was it?

Jarett and I decided that when we got back we would be getting her into a pediatrician to get her looked at. I even texted my local friends before we got home if they had any recommendations of who we should see because we still didn’t have one. We moved to Nashville 8 months before everything hit the fan here in the U.S. and our kids are so healthy and rarely sick so finding a pediatrician got put on the back burner. I can’t even remember the last time we even needed to go to the doctor for one of the kids. This is a blessing that I have always been continually thankful for.

Back to reality

We got back home from vacation and I started calling different offices and finding out who could see her the soonest. However, we never got to the point of being able to take her in, and looking back, it was one of the many blessings and tender mercies of this story. 

It was Friday night. We had just sat down to eat dinner. I saw Blair nibble on a bite before telling me that she wasn’t hungry. We put her to bed shortly after and went on with our Friday evening of dinner clean-up and laundry. It was about 2 hours later that we heard her call out for us from her top bunk. She told us she had woken up because her tummy hurt and right then I knew we needed to head to the ER. While Jarett put some things together for her, I went through the motions of checking her out. Laying on my bed, I pressed on different parts of her abdomen asking her where it hurt. Through her answers, it felt like it was more prominent on the right. I then had her stand on her toes and drop down on her heels. Again, she pointed to her right side of where the pain was. Appendicitis maybe?

Jarett started loading her and our things into the car and I quickly gave instructions to Tanner about the do’s and don’ts while we are gone with it being 11:30 PM. I gave him a hug and told him we would be back soon and to not fall asleep so he wouldn’t miss my calls to check-in.

Sharing the first part of our daughter's Type 1 Diabetes and Celiac Disease diagnosis at eight years old. Read more on KaraLayne.com

The room of emergency

They quickly triaged us and got to work on putting an IV in to administer fluids to combat any dehydration. It was so hard watching Blair go through things she never has before. As I mentioned, our kids are very healthy and no one has ever had to do blood draws or IV’s. I braced myself for what was possibly to come since I was still thinking it could be appendicitis which would mean surgery. 

Once we got through the IV, there was an ultrasound on her abdomen to check her appendix and also a blood draw to look further into things. As the nurse sat down with the vials, Jarett and I watched as the blood that was drawn didn’t look like it should. Blair’s blood was pink. 

My heart started racing. The nurse finished up and quietly left the room. I waited a few minutes for Blair to doze off as the tears began to silently fall. It was so quiet I could almost hear them hit the tile floor beneath my feet. Pink blood can be a sign of leukemia. My daughter can’t have leukemia. This isn’t her story. My head began spinning as I crumbled in Jarett’s arms, a mess of quiet sobbing as I imagined the worst possible scenario. 

The doctor came in to tell us that they did not see anything concerning regarding her appendix.

 “However, we have an ambulance on the way because we need to get her transferred up to Nashville. The children’s hospital has all of the specialists in one room that are going to be able to get to the bottom of what might be going on with her.”

A cold rush moved through my body and I felt my lungs tighten, unable to exhale. We had brought her into the ER for stomach pain. Maybe appendicitis. And now the ER doctor was telling me there was something seriously wrong with my daughter without telling me something was seriously wrong. You know, the way doctors do to prevent you from freaking out. But I was already there. Jarett and I both – we knew something was seriously wrong.

There was a quiet rush of nurses as they prepared everything needed for transport. Jarett and I decided that he would ride in the ambulance with her while I followed, only because at that moment in time I was losing it and I needed to get a grip. Blair was asleep, I kissed her on her forehead, kissed Jarett, and headed for the parking lot to race home to grab a change of clothes for each of us along with a few more things we would probably need.

A phone call to Arizona

I pulled my phone from my back pocket as I walked through the double doors and dialed the only person I needed to talk to in that moment. I heard her voice on the other end, but when I opened my mouth to talk nothing came out.

“Kara? Are you there? What’s wrong, babe?”

“Mom…” my voice cracked. It took every ounce of me to get my brain to connect with my mouth long enough to tell her something. What came out was probably, for the most part, inaudible between the sobbing as I walked to my car. I told her everything that happened from the night thus far and kept repeating over and over “there can’t be something wrong with her”.

Heading for the house, she gave me the pep talk every mother would in that moment. That Blair needed me to keep it together. That everything was going to be OK, but I needed to keep it together for her. The tears continued falling as I found my way back home and pulled into the garage.

“Do you want me to come?” 

I dropped my head in my hands and lost it all over again. Of course I wanted her to come. But saying it out loud felt like it was making it a reality. That there was something terribly wrong with Blair.

“Okay, I’m coming. 

Between the sobs, I was able to squeak out a “thank you” and hung up to gather myself before walking in the door.

Everything gets blurry

Tanner was the only one awake. We looked at each other as I turned the corner and I lost it all over again. He walked over, met me halway into the kitchen, and wrapped his arms around me as I sobbed into his chest. 

“She has to be OK. She has to be OK”

He helped me gather up everything I needed. I told him that he had to answer his phone no matter what. We have never left him alone over night and I didn’t have any other choice. But I knew everything was in Tanner’s very capable hands. I gave him another squeeze and told him I would call him soon.

Sharing the first part of our daughter's Type 1 Diabetes and Celiac Disease diagnosis at eight years old. Read more on KaraLayne.com

The drive into Nashville was lonely, the freeway empty. I focused on my headlights hitting the ground in front of me as the wind wipped through my hair and helped dry up the tears. Jarett texted to let me know they had just arrived to the ER. I was 15 minutes behind them. The last bit of the drive was spent in prayer, pleading out loud that she would be OK. Once I arrived to the hospital I was racing to find out where they were. Security checks, temperature checks, “where’s your mask”… I could feel my internal temperature rising. Just get me to my kid.

I walked in the door and she and I looked at each other. I smiled as she crumbled to tears. Dropping the bags on the ground, I wrapped my arms around her and told her I was there and wasn’t leaving. Nurses, more blood draws, fluid bag changes, charting, machines beeping, nose swabs, medicine – so much going on. I found myself in mama bear mode as I stood over every little thing being administered, asking questions, and telling one over-zealous nurse to slow down and give Blair a minute to breathe. 

Before we knew it, they were done with the second round of triage and told us they were transporting her to another room. 

Sharing the first part of our daughter's Type 1 Diabetes and Celiac Disease diagnosis at eight years old. Read more on KaraLayne.com

When five hours feels like a lifetime

Ever since the first emergency room and seeing what her blood looked like, Jarett and I had been silently pleading to let it not be what it could be. And when you are a parent watching your kid be put through all of these things and that possibility is on your mind? Five hours feels like a lifetime.

In our new ER room, things got quiet again. Which I was grateful for because Blair was able to rest without being poked and prodded. But my mind raced. What will we do? How will we manage? I can’t do life without one of my kids. All of the thoughts, all of the scenarios, all of the fear. It all rushed through my mind like a freight train. A silent freight train in a dimly lit hospital room. The only thing I knew to do for her in that moment was ask for prayers. A quick and vague story shared on my Instagram (the only thing I had capacity for in the moment) and within minutes my DM’s were flooded with the most beautiful prayers I could ever ask for and well wishes for our girl. And for a moment, I had peace. Enough to recharge and be able to face whatever was ahead of us. There will never be adequate words to truly thank those of you who have and are continuing to pray for Blair and our family. I am undeserving in every way.

Sharing the first part of our daughter's Type 1 Diabetes and Celiac Disease diagnosis at eight years old. Read more on KaraLayne.com

I rested my head on Jarett’s shoulder and closed my eyes for a moment.

Almost immediately Jarett was tapping me awake as the resident doctor walked in. He was young, as most residents are, with a warm smile and a sympathetic expression on his face when he saw us. I’m sure we looked like we had already been through hell at that point. Jarett wrapped his arm around my shoulders as if to hold me up for what we were about to be told. In the background, Blair was quietly sleeping.

He took a deep breath…

“Well, this little girl is extremely strong. We don’t see many like her with these numbers without showing extreme symptoms. She is amazing.”

I felt like lunging toward him, grabbing him by the throat and shaking the information out of him. While I appreciated his sentiments and completely agreed, I was on the verge of a nervous breakdown if I didn’t hear what was wrong with my daughter. Tell me now.

“Your daughter has Type 1 diabetes. She also has pancreatitis as a complication from that and is showing markers for celiac disease.”

Read part two of Blair’s diagnosis story right here.

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