The day before Leah’s 6th birthday she hadn’t been feeling well and we ended up in the ER when she couldn’t answer us and wasn’t breathing well. Turns out she was in diabetic ketoacidosis and her body was shutting down. Leah has type one diabetes, an autoimmune disease where the body tries to kill the insulin producing beta cells of the pancreas. When this happens, the body can no longer absorb or control it’s glucose levels. She had swelling in her brain, her blood glucose level was 425 (more than 4 times the normal range), she had so much acid production in her body she was being poisoned, and she was severely dehydrated. She was rushed to the ICU where she recovered well after a few days.
Life after we came home came to bit of a screeching halt however. Leah needed to be constantly monitored as her blood sugar levels were all over the place and we were expecting a baby in 3 months. We checked her blood sugars at least six times during the day and three times throughout the night to make sure her blood glucose levels weren't dipping low or climbing high while we adjusted to her new medication. We weighed and measured food, counted carbs, calculated the right insulin dose, and gave hundreds of injections and finger pokes. She couldn’t continue at school so we decided to homeschool for a year while we all learned to care for her.
We are happy to say that Leah is back at school this year and we have learned to ride the rollercoaster of high and low blood sugars. It is still quite dangerous when Leah’s blood glucose levels are high or low and, unfortunately, Leah cannot identify when it is happening. We have a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) that helps to alert us when she is trending low or high but it is not 100% accurate and we don’t always catch it until she is dangerously low. We are looking at getting a Diabetic Alert Service dog for Leah as an extra measure of self care for her. She is still learning to care for her disease and having a furry companion that can help teach her would be a great help. Please, help keep Leah well and become more independent.
- Susan Cassell
- Carol Holland
- Wendy Hannigan
- Your friends at Dutch Bros Coffee
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