4:45 am her breathing was rapid and charged. In and out so quick that when I found her laying there on the couch my thought was she is either going to hyperventilate and pass out, her heart must be racing..... or ... she has a severe case of the man flu. You know that kind where he thinks he is going to die but a more accurate statement would be a tummy ache. I attempted to wake her and have her slow her breathing. "Mekka, I need you to focus and try to slow down. Try breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth, deep breathes. Come on girl, stay awake, in through your nose and out through your mouth." To which I barely received a response. She tried for a single breathe before she was chugging like a train again. Immediately I woke her father to come and asses her with me. The last place we ever try to visit is a hospital and we feel even more strongly about staying away from ERs. We watched her a few minutes longer before her father was out starting the car and I was getting our girl dressed so we could put the care of our beautiful daughter in the hands of the medical staff in the ER.
See we have thing ambulances, ERs and ICUs. The last time we had to visit all three with one of our daughters, we didn't bring her home again. We left her to rest in a cemetery. Here in this
present moment we had to cowboy up and figure out what was going on with our oldest living daughter.
I left her dad at home with our other three girls while I drove above the speed limit across town to our hospital's ER on a chilly Montana winter morning. Chug a chug a chug..... she laid lethargic in my passenger seat slumped over. It seemed like I hit every red light I could possibly hit on the way.
Upon our arrival I had to practically carry our 12 year old 103 pound child through the front doors. She tried walking but had limited strength. When we made it back to triage, the nurses were asking questions attempting to get heart rates and that's when we noticed her hands were ice cold and purple. I'm thinking to myself "when the heck did that happen?" I had just helped her get dressed and she did not have popsicle hands.
And the whirl wind began... So much happens so quickly in an ER (I'm grateful for that) It is overwhelming though. Iv's, blood draws, blood pressures, heart rates and oxygen. Then just as quickly as it all happens your room goes cricket quiet while you wait for the results of all the tests. You see the "oh shit" look that goes across the nurses face. You know that look very well, you have seen it 13 years prior as you sat in a ER with your first born. As much as the staff tries to hide it, this is not my first rodeo and their attempt at keeping composure before speaking was lost the very second she looked up from her computer screen.
"Blood sugar is 780" the nurse says to the other one who has his back to me. I see a shake of his head and then they stay quiet. (Quiet is always a dead giveaway) Well I certainly couldn't let that fly! What is a normal blood sugar I ask? Again, I see that look in her eyes as she says 100.
I'm not a doctor, nurse or really in the medical community but I understood in that moment that this was not the case of appendicitis we thought it may be, this was a life sentence that my beautiful baby girl had just acquired. After confirmation from the lab, her diagnosis was Type 1 Diabetes, because her sugars were so high I learned that she was in Diabetic Ketoacidosis a potentially life threatening complication of having diabetes. We had no prior indications our 12 year was diabetic.
The hospital we were at is does not have a pediatric ICU so we were going to have to be transported up the street to the one that does. We were headed straight back into the lions den of an ICU . Memories of past experience flooded my mind. I relived for a brief moment the tragic loss of our first born. My entire body reacted, adrenaline kicked in, my heart started to race, my stomach was in my throat as tears flooded my eyes. In that moment I had to take my own advice. Kira, breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth, in and out... I did this until my body followed suit and started to calm.
Mekka is going to recover.
After 2 days in the ICU our girl woke. It was so incredibly amazing to see those beautiful blue eyes staring back at us. To have her engage in conversation and see her eat food made my heart soar. Then we had to drop the bomb on her. She had been in and out of consciousness and believed she was in the hospital due to a stomach ache. We had to explain to her why she was really there and what that means. I watched heartache and grief cross her face. Heartache, at the loss of life as she knew it and grief as she contemplated what her future now looked like. Grief is not an emotion felt due to death alone. Mekka's future, hopes and dreams had just been altered. Unlike her I knew that her father and I had already started the grieving process. Our expectations of the life we had envisioned for our daughter was altertered. While Mekka slept for two days we had the time to start working through this grief and begin understanding what our life was going to look like. This is a journey that Mekka has only started.
As I sit here writing this on a hospital bed, I'm remembering all the faces of Mekka the last 24 hours. The smiles after waking, the shock of learning her diagnosis, the fear of what other kids her age will think, the denial as she refused to listen to
the nurse teaching us about insulin doses, the pain as she receives a shot after every meal and the grief as she learns to alter her future.
Grief is a normal and natural reaction to loss or the change of a familiar pattern of behavior. Every emotion that is running through our minds is spot on. There is no right or wrong way to walk through this process. There is no wrong way to learn our new normal.