My name is Krystin, and I am the mother of two beautiful daughters aged six and nine. This past summer, my youngest daughter and I, fell down a medical rabbit hole that would make Alice's journey seem tame. Forever altering every moment of everyday..... on August 9, 2010, my sweet precious little girl was diagnosed at BC Children's Hospital with Type 1 Diabetes.
I am often asked by friends and people in our community how I knew that Rowan was sick, and decide to drive her one hour westbound to BC Children's Hospital. So this is where I will begin recalling our journey.....
Rowan has always been a happy, active little girl. A lover of all animals, particularly the creepy crawlies. She has a mischievious spark in her eye, and a laugh that will make anyone's heart smile. But there were odd changes visible in Rowan, that began long before that fateful day in August.
She had begun acting somewhat out of sorts. She was withdrawn amongst her peers, she was clingy and whiny- all she wanted to do was spend her day in my arms. She became miserably cantankerous, and had rebounding mood swings unlike anything I had ever seen in anyone before.
I will interrupt for a moment, and express that I have some guilt that I didn't sooner recognize her symptoms. Tremendous guilt and remorse, to the extent that I begin questioning my abilities as a mother. That having been said, I realize there is no advantage to beating myself over a past that I cannot control, nor change.
Rowan became increasingly lethargic with every passing day. I assumed that she was tired, so I would put her to bed early that night, only to have it even worse the next day, accompanied by her miserable crankiness. So again, the next night, it would be early to bed, and by dinnertime the next evening, I'd be scratching my head wondering where my sweet natured little girl went, and where on earth this demonic minion in front of me had appeared.
She was thirsty. Unbelievably, insatiably thirsty. Unfortunately, the Fraser Valley of British Columbia was enduring a heatwave when this unquenchable thirst struck, so again, I assumed it was because of the heat.
Of course, with the unquenchable thirst, came an unbelievable need to pee frequently. Again, you drink the contents of an aquarium, of course you're going to pee, so it STILL did not dawn on me that there was something seriously wrong here.
Her caretakers at daycare had also been commenting to me that Rowan simply wasn't being herself, and seemed to be so tired, unwilling to participate or exert herself in anyway. This symptom slowly snowballed.
On the morning of August 9, 2010 my sweet little Rowan was lethargic to the point of inconherence. Her eyes were glossy, she kept laying her head on the kitchen table while eating cereal. I could ask her questions, and there would be no response, not even eye-contact. I had to shake her shoulder to get her attention, and have her answer me.
This was the day that I finally recognized something was seriously wrong. Then she went to the refrigerator, and pulled out my personal water jug. This tiny little girl, who weighed approximately 35lbs, chugged three litres of water in less than 15 minutes. I watched, astonished as water poured down her cheeks and dribbled down her neck, as she ferociously sought every last drop of water. It hit me like a medicine ball in the stomach. This was not at all normal, and something had to be done immediately.
I telephoned the BC Nurses hotline, and presented the list of symptoms. I was told to have her sent for emergency blood work immediately. We did, and waited on baited breath for our doctor to call us with the results.
When the doctor did telephone us, it was confirmed... Rowan had Type 1 Diabetes, and needed to be hospitalized immediately. He informed me that a pediatrician was awaiting our immiment arrival at Abbotsford Hospital. This is where the first argument concerning her care began.
I had always been raised with this information drummed into my head "if you EVER need to go to the hospital, and I don't care if you're 16, you tell the paramedics that you want to go to Children's." So it was the first response I had in regards to her needing to be hospitalized. We don't have much family out here, all of them are within the Lower Mainland, and a small drive away from Children's Hospital. Rowan's father resides in Vancouver, and I felt it important for her emotional well-being, that she have access to both her parents during this trying time.
And so I drove her to Children's. I didn't want to argue this anymore with the Doctor on the telphone, I just packed her up, made arrangements for a friend to pick up my other daughter, packed a bag, and within ten minutes we were on the road to the big City.
This happened at four o'clock, the prime peak of rush hour into Vancouver. Miraculously, we didn't encounter the rush hour gridlock. I don't know how on earth that happened, clearly we had angels on our side.
Another miracle.... when we arrived at the Emergency Room of Children's Hospital, there was only ONE child waiting to be seen. For those of you who are familiar with Children's Hospital, you know that this is an oddity, I am used to spending hours and hours waiting for a child to be seen.
But it turns out, that Rowan was so severely ill, that it wouldn't have mattered if the entire population of Vancouver was waiting to be seen, Rowan would have bypassed them all. That's a pretty frightening occurence for an observing parent. To know that your child is in such dire straits, that she gets bumped to the first in line.
We spent approximately eight hours in the emergency room. Where poor Rowan had become a human pin-cusion. Up until that day, she had only received vacinations, and had only had her first blood test drawn that afternoon. What we were to experience in the coming hours more than made up for her lack of exposure to needles.
Rowan is a scrawny little girl, as I mentioned earlier, and her veins were so tiny that even the nurses at Children's Hospital were having a dickens of a time getting an IV into her. They tried the back of each hand six times, before another nurse arrived, and then another to try, and than another to try. All the while Rowan is screaming, howling, sobbing, pleading "Please stop hurting me! Please, I'll be good, please just stop hurting me" It broke my heart, and I still weep remembering it. Unfortunately, it was also just the very tip of the iceberg.
That evening, she had bloodwork drawn with a butterfly cord every four hours, her blood glucose was tested every hour ON the hour, and received several insulin injections.
Now remember I said earlier that there was no point in beating myself up over a past that I could not control nor change? Well, this is what I cling to when I find myself in those dark moments for being such an awful mother that I didn't recognize this sooner. Most young children that are undiagnosed diabetics, aren't diagnosed until they end up in the intensive care unit in a coma. Alright. Didn't quite make it that far, and for that I am forever grateful. I was also advised by an emergency nurse, I suppose to put it into perspective how close and how lucky we were: had she arrived mere hours later, the chances of her being in a coma would likely have been 100% with an unbelievable chance that she would have passed away. Now THAT helps to put it all into perspective.