Lila is four. Caleb was just shy of his fourth birthday when he was diagnosed. In both appearance and personality, Lila tends to be more like Caleb than older brother Colin. For some reason that has always made me think that if either Lila or Colin were to develop D, it would more likely be Lila. Not logical, but it’s what I have always thought.
Driving home from preschool the other day, out of the blue Lila says, “Mom, can I have some milk?” Lila has always enjoyed milk, but with her meals. She has never been one to drink much beyond that, and if she does, it’s water. For about a month before the light bulb went on that something might be up with Caleb, he requested milk. It should have been a reg flag, but I was clueless. “Icy, icy cold milk,” he wanted. Visions of him asking for it are etched in my memory because at the time, I just thought he was growing. But it was a telltale sign of diabetes that I completely missed.
So when Lila repeated Caleb’s request, a pit formed in my stomach. I started to think about the other symptoms. Frequent urination – nope, not at all. Lethargy – no way. Weight loss – I really don’t think so.
But I couldn’t get beyond the taboo milk request.
We arrived home, unpacked her backpack as usual, and sat down at the kitchen table. We’ve done it before, so it’s not a big deal – I ask Lila if I can check her sugar. “Sure Mom.” I prick her finger, the test strip soaks up the blood and the five seconds of wait, which seem like an eternity, begin. I’m telling myself this is not a big deal. She’s just thirsty. She has no other signs.
Then the number pops up. 257.
Well that was not what I was expecting. “Lila, let’s wash your hands.” “Okay mom.”
Another prick, another blood soak – error. Another prick, another blood soak – error. I’m trying not to panic. But I am now thinking of the logistics of calling my husband to come home. Do we go straight to the hospital or call Caleb’s endo? Who’s going to get the boys from the bus stop? Can we get her pumping right now? Will insurance drop us with two diabetics? And most of all, the flood of memories of Caleb’s diagnosis comes back to me in a wave. Lila is starting to get anxious with the pokes and now they hurt. How am I going to to get her through what lies ahead – shots, insertions, more finger sticks. I’m looking at her in the eyes, trying to stay calm, but my heart is breaking.
Another poke, another soak. 168. Not what I was hoping for.
I finally give her the milk she requested and the cookies from lunch she didn’t finish at school. We go about our normal routine although I have little ability to process thought. We are communicating, but I have no clue what I am saying because I’m still thinking about the hours and days and weeks and years ahead. I give it about fifteen minutes, pull out a completely different meter, and we do another poke and another soak.
That’s more like it.
Just like that, life resumes to normal. My shoulders drop a little from the relief. I give Lila a big hug and she is oblivious to the future I envisioned for her over the last twenty minutes.
Just to be sure, I checked her sugar later that day, 84 and the following morning, 82.
All she wanted was a glass of milk.