Thursday, November 13, 2008

World Diabetes Day

November 14 is World Diabetes Day.

Jessica was diagnosed when she was 3 years old. I can recall the moment that the doctor gave me the news....She had been so incredibly sick, and I knew that something was wrong, but I chalked it up to the flu that had been going around. I had it, and I thought that she did too.

She started having accidents in bed at night, and that was not something that she had ever done before. Not knowing how seriously ill she really was, I bribed her with a Barbie doll that she wanted.

Jessica wanted that doll so badly that somehow, she actually stopped wetting the bed at night. That was nothing less than amazing since she was beyond sick at that time.

I recovered from the flu, and Jessica was still sick. In a matter of of days, she lost an astounding 8 pounds off her slight three year old frame.

I called my family to take us to the hospital. My motherly instincts told me to go, now.
I couldn't get a drive and I didn't have the money for a taxi.
Looking back, if I had known just how bad it really was, I would have called an ambulance.

A neighbour drove us to the hospital - Jessica, Geoff and I. I have no idea where KC and Kayla were. I can't remember that part.

She was taken into the er immediately. There was no triage, no waiting.

I was told later that if I would have waited a mere couple hours longer, we could have lost her.

It has been nearly 11 years since that day.

I wish that I could say that things have changed. but nothing really has.
Jessica still has daily injections, and checks her blood sugar several times each day.
In fact, far from getting better, the past 13 months or so have been a nightmare for our whole family.

I don't know if they will ever find a cure for this horrendous disease. Ten years ago I was told that in ten years we would wipe it off of the face of the earth.

It's still here, it's still stealing lives and destroying families.

Today, on World Diabetes Day, more than ever, I am thinking of Jessica and all of the other people out there that are suffering.

KITCHENER--Emma Ermel is tired of the needles. The four-year-old Kitchener girl was diagnosed in June with Type 1 diabetes, and insulin injections and blood sugar tests have become part of her daily routine.“I hate those needles,” Emma said.She wishes she could get rid of them, and maybe even diabetes. That’s why she’s going to sell hot chocolate tomorrow — World Diabetes Day — to raise money for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.The money, Emma said quietly from the safety of her mother Amy Ermel’s arms, is “for people who are trying to find a cure.” Emma and her hot-chocolate crew will be at the Zehrs store at the corner of Ottawa Street and Strasburg Road tomorrow from 4 to 8 p.m. World Diabetes Day falls on Nov. 14 in honour of the birthday of Frederick Banting, who helped discover insulin in 1922. The World Health Organization estimates that more than 180 million people worldwide have diabetes, and that number is likely to more than double by 2030 without intervention. Juvenile diabetes is a growing concern in Canada, said Margot Fitzpatrick, regional manager for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation in southwestern Ontario.Every year the number of children with diabetes rises by three to five per cent, she said. And the number of children diagnosed before the age of two has tripled in recent years. “This disease is growing incredibly and something really needs to be done about it,” Fitzpatrick said.The foundation funds research and offers outreach programs, including mentors for families just diagnosed and support groups.“That beginning time is extremely difficult for the whole family,” she said. “It’s a huge learning curve.”Suddenly families have to deal with regular blood testing, injections, a strict diet, and the constant worry about blood sugar levels.“It’s a really fine balancing act,” Fitzpatrick said. That’s how life feels in the Ermel home since Emma’s diagnosis. Amy thought something was wrong with Emma when her daughter was unusually thirsty, and going to the bathroom more. She suspected a bladder infection, but tests showed Emma had diabetes — and her blood sugar level was very high. Even a few days more without treatment, Amy was told, and Emma could have become seriously ill. Then Amy and her husband Shawn Ermel were bombarded with information on managing Emma’s diabetes. Four times a day Emma gets insulin injections, usually in her arms or belly, and her blood is tested regularly throughout the day. Amy frets over all the many factors that can cause Emma’s blood sugar level to fluctuate, even just the excitement of her junior kindergarten class.“It’s getting easier, but it’s never a thing where you can just sit down and take a breath.” jweidner@therecord.comDiabetes factsMore than two million Canadians have diabetes.Type 1, usually diagnosed in children and adolescents, accounts for about one in ten cases of diabetes. Type 2 diabetes usually develops in adulthood, although increasing numbers of children in high-risk populations are being diagnosed.Gestational diabetes is a temporary condition that occurs during pregnancy.Diabetes is a chronic, serious condition. If left untreated or improperly managed, diabetes can result in a variety of complications including heart, kidney and eye problems, and nerve damage.Symptoms of diabetes include: unusual thirst, frequent urination, weight change, extreme fatigue, blurred vision, frequent infections, and tingling in the hands or feet.Scientists believe lifestyle changes can help prevent or delay the onset of Type 2 diabetes. A healthy meal plan, weight control and physical activity are important prevention steps.Source: Canadian Diabetes Association,


Gabriel said...

I don't know if you remember this, but I'm a type 2 diabetic. I will remember Jessica and all the kids that -like her- go through life with this complicated, irritating, often dangerous illness. Jessica is an example of bravery and persistence; she has fought so hard and yet she is able to lead a relatively normal life.

Keep fighting, Jess. One day, this terrible illness will be history, and it's going to be because of people like you.

Heidi the Hick said...

I"m going to come back when I"m done work and read this whole thing.

I think about this all the time! Diabetes is a bitch.

Biddie said...

Gabriel - You are going to make me cry with comments like that :)
Jessica - and all of the other kids that live with this dreaded illness are all so brave.
I do remember you telling me that you had type 2.Sometimes I forget just how many people I know that are affected by this disease. It's scary how many of us there really are.

Heidi -
You're telling me! If I had one wish, I would wish it away...

aims said...

Here's my prayer added to the others that a cure is found for this.

Keep fighting Jess. You are inspirational to many.

Biddie said...

Aims - Thank you for the prayers. Jessica is an inspiration. I love that little kid so much :)

Palm Springs Savant said...

I have family members that are diabetic- I hope and pray they find better ways to help stabilize people.

Biddie said...

palm springs savant -
From your lips to God's ears :)

sky0138 said...

Hi there! My husband just stumbled across this today and I just wanted to tell you that I am Amy Ermel and my daughter is Emma Ermel. Thank you for including our newspaper article in your blog. I hope someday we can sit our kids down and tell them it is done...there is a cure. That will be the greatest day of our lives. Thank you! :)