Winston & Damman October 2018

On Your Side (810) 966-WINS (9467)

October 2018

Living With a Diagnosis Honoring the Strength of My Children

T he news came out of nowhere for our eldest daughter, Hannah. She was in fifth grade and had to be taken to the hospital via ambulance. She would spend four days in the hospital, and when she was discharged, she left with a Type I diabetes diagnosis. Hannah was devastated, and as parents, my husband and I were terrified of what this might mean for our first child. The diagnosis made no sense. Diabetes had not affected anyone in our families, and by all accounts, Hannah seemed like a healthy, normal little girl. We soon learned the ins and outs of living with diabetes, realizing there were far worse things our children could face, and we continued with our new lives, raising our growing family. After Hannah’s diagnosis, we asked our pediatrician if we should check our middle child, Meghan, and youngest son, Zach, for diabetes, but she eased our fears, saying there was less than a 5 percent chance of one of the siblings also having it. A few years later, I picked up Meghan from school, and she immediately knew something was wrong. Her eyes became panicked as she learned that her brother, Zach, had been diagnosed with diabetes. Zach would spent two days in the hospital. What we weren’t quite expecting was the level of fear this instilled in Meghan. After learning about her brother, I can remember her saying, “Well, I guess the pediatrician was wrong. They’re going to tell me I’m

diabetic.” She became hypersensitive about how thirsty she was (a symptom of diabetes is extreme thirst), and feared taking a urine test, remembering the diagnosis that came doctor did a great job of easing her fears, and we’re pleased to report she’s a happy, athletic, diabetes-free kid. Despite the surprise of their diagnoses, our kiddos picked up with from her siblings’ tests. Luckily, her

boy who’s starting to enter his preteen years, it’s been a bit more difficult. He’s still learning, like anyone with the diagnosis, but both he and his sister continue to live normal, full lives. Both of them were and are athletes, and both have plenty of friends and activities to keep them busy. There isn’t that fear of the unknown anymore for them, and they’re growing every day. Zach will still go trick- or-treating with his friends this Halloween, and though we’ll have to ration out his candy consumption, he can still enjoy it just as his friends do. (And we know he sneaks a few extra pieces when we’re not looking.) Zach’s and Hannah’s lives aren’t hindered by the diagnosis of diabetes — they can still just be kids.

their lives and learned how to function with diabetes. Hannah has been a great teacher for Zach, continually reminding him to check his sugars and pay attention to his food consumption. We joke that she mothers him, as most older sisters do. Both Zach and Hannah are also good about letting us know when their sugars are low. As a kid, it’s more fun to play Fortnite or talk to your friends than it is to check in on your sugars. It’s not something most people have to think about, let alone children. As a kid, I don’t think I ever thought about what I was putting into my mouth, but that isn’t a luxury Zach and Hannah have had in their childhoods. Unfortunately, they both still struggle with knowing when they have too much sugar in their blood, and for Zach, as a growing

–Nicole Winston

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