As a part of Secrets and Doors blog tour I volunteered to write a piece about why the Secret Door Society chose JDRF. Admittedly, I’ve been dragging my feet, not because I don’t want to share this story—I do—but it isn’t easy. Looking back on my reality of living with a T1D diabetic has stirred up emotions. The wound is still raw.
Nine years ago my daughter was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. Just like any other mother, I imagined this pretty little girl growing up happy and healthy. Chronic illness wasn’t even a blip on my radar, but six months after her eighth birthday all of that changed. My once sweet and loving child was suddenly angry and confrontational. She didn’t want to go to school, cried her stomach hurt too much, only to be laughing and playing an hour later. My father had died earlier that year, and at first I thought she was having trouble coping with the loss of her grandfather. I took her to the doctor, and he agreed that was probably the cause of her erratic behavior. He gave me the names of several counselors, but drew blood as a precaution.
I’m so glad he did.
Her test results came back a few hours later with a blood sugar reading of 637. A normal range sits at 100. We were lucky. We had caught it early enough to avoid ketoacidosis shock, a condition caused by high blood-sugar that can lead to coma. This was the optimistic phrase delivered to me, but I didn’t feel very fortunate as I drove 40 minutes to the hospital to place her on Diabetic protocol, stealing glances in the rearview mirror. She’d grown so thin. How had that escaped my notice? The signs were there. She was always thirsty. Just that morning I had scolded her for drinking too much in the middle of the night and disrupting her sleep by needing to pee. Later the diabetes signs were easy to see when I thought back on the weeks leading up to her diagnosis, but at the time I'd missed them because I didn’t have a clue what to look for.
When it came to diabetes, my only frame of reference was Steel Magnolias. I’d directed the play in high school and could still recite every line from memory like some kind of sick cosmic joke. One thing was for certain: I couldn’t stand the thought of my baby girl cast in the role of Shelby. Shelby died too young, too soon.
As her parents we carried so many hopes and dreams. With the diagnosis, the simple future we’d pictured for this sweet little angel was torn from us and replaced with fears of kidney failure, amputations, and blindness. I wished with all my heart the diagnosis would’ve been mine.
At the hospital we learned what protocol meant. The staff had to work quickly to rehydrate her and bring dangerous sugar levels down. My daughter was eight and didn’t understand. I can’t begin to explain how hard it was to watch a team of nurses hold my fighting child down and repeatedly stab her with needles, injecting her with life-saving insulin and testing her blood. At the time, all I could hear were her screams; all I could see was the look of betrayal in her big, blue eyes. I stood there, helpless. A mother’s supposed to protect, but all I could do was whisper I’m sorry over and over. Pain became a daily part of her life. Pain from testing. Pain from injections. Pain from the disease itself. Pain is hard, but for T1D kids, pain means life.
T1D is an autoimmune disorder where the immune system malfunctions and attacks the pancreatic beta cells that produce insulin. There is no proven cure at this time. It is estimated that over 5 million people in the United States are affected by this disease, yet it receives very little media attention.
I believe a cure is obtainable within our lifetime, but just like any other project, funding and awareness are crucial. That is why we decided to name the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation as the beneficiary for Secrets and Doors. No charity is closer to the hearts of many of our contributors.
My baby is seventeen now, healthy and happy like I had imagined—at least as healthy as any T1D kid can be. Parents of her peers are worried about college. I worry over prescriptions, rising medical costs, insurance premiums, and deductibles that have doubled every year since 2010. (Thank you, Obamacare). I’m scared for her future. Just staring out in life as a young adult is hard enough without an added financial burden of a major medical condition that needs constant monitoring and medicine to survive. While the fear never goes away, I’m optimistic. She’s grown into an amazing woman, capable of overcoming any and all obstacles.
Please join us in our support of T1D research by buying a copy of Secrets and Doors. Just like my baby, many others have been robbed of their childhoods. Together we can unlock the door to a brighter tomorrow.
Open the door and unlock the secrets in eleven short stories from The Secret Door Society, an organization of fantasy and science fiction authors dedicated to charitable work. All proceeds from this anthology benefit the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation in their quest to cure Type One Diabetes (T1D).
In these pages you’ll discover a modern woman trapped in an old fashioned dreamscape, a futuristic temp worker who fights against her programming, a beautiful vampire’s secret mission disrupted by betrayal, a sorcerer’s epic battle against a water dragon, the source of magical mirrors—and more. There are tales for every science fiction and fantasy taste, including new works from award-winning authors Johnny Worthen, Lehua Parker, Christine Haggerty, and Adrienne Monson.
Join us in the fight against T1D as you peek into a world of magical and mysterious doorways—if you dare.
Buy your Kindle copy here. And thank you for your support!