Community News
March 06, 2017 By George Dean
Don’t be sorry for my daughter because she has diabetes

That evening in August 2016 when my daughter, Taylor, started to crash was a scary one. She would stand for a minute, and then roll around on the floor. After watching her a few times I realized she was having trouble standing because she had no energy. Other signs had been there for awhile, including drinking an abundance of liquid every day and filling her diapers with urine within an hour.  That evening, I paced around the house as I contemplated taking her to the hospital or waiting until the next day to take her to our family doctor. Part of me worried about what the doctors were going to say, but regardless of what they told me, I would protect her. I was her father.

At the hospital, my wife, Angel, and I explained Taylor’s symptoms. A nurse checked her blood sugar: Taylor’s numbers were six times what was considered normal. A urine sample confirmed that she was chock-full of ketones. She was admitted right away. My wife was upset. It was her first day at a new job and she didn’t feel she could call in sick, plus we really needed the money with the way the Alberta economy was, so I stayed with our daughter.

Taylor was only two years old, and by that evening, she’d already had two IVs and a lot of tests. I was awake for the next 36 hours, upset, scared, and feeling so many other emotions I couldn’t even explain. I cried to the doctors. I felt so bad and felt like it was all my fault. I couldn’t help but think if I had given her one less treat she wouldn’t have gotten type 1 diabetes. The doctors did a good job trying to comfort me and explaining that Taylor’s diabetes had nothing to do with anything I did or didn’t do.

After her diagnosis, Taylor was discharged. We were asked to come back every morning that week to get educated about diabetes. There was lots to learn about blood sugars, carbs, health, insulin, and checks, and I took in as much as I could. On Friday, we were given emergency numbers, a boost of confidence, and sent on our way.

Our days are now filled with blood sugar checks, giving my little one insulin twice a day, and counting her carbs and sugar at every meal and snack. Yet I cannot imagine what it feels like to be her. She’s the one getting poked all the time. She’s the one who can’t eat what she use to. She’s the one who has had her life turned upside down. Even her babysitter bailed on her, saying she wasn’t knowledgeable enough to ‘deal with this.’

People have sent their sympathies. My response has been simple: Please don’t be sorry for me, Taylor, or my family. We are all fine. She is fine. Diabetes is a tough lifestyle change that our family has to get used to. Taylor is still the same child with the same personality: she laughs, plays, dances, loves music, and loves to spend time outside. And I love her more today that I did yesterday.

George Dean is a child and youth care worker from Dartmouth, N.S., who currently resides in Edmonton. He spent many years in the child welfare system and has been homeless. He is a loving father of three girls, a husband, and an inspiration to and advocate for youth in care all over the world. He has written articles and presented to various child and youth care agencies, and is writing his own biography.

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