Sunday, February 25, 2007

February 23, 1998

February 23, 1998 is a day etched forever in my mother-heart. On February 22 everything was fine and on February 23, everything changed.

Kaetlyn was 7. She has always been the hardest to put to bed. I attribute that to potty training too close to the time of switching from crib to bed.... anyways, she has always got up 2 or 3 or 4 times after being put to bed. And she was doing it again. Up in the night. Has to go pee. Thirsty. On and on. "Go to bed, Kaetlyn!" "Stop getting up" "Do this before you go to bed!" But on and on it went. And as the nights went on, it got more and more frequent. Up to go pee. Up to get a drink. Until it was happening at 15 minute intervals.

Finally that warning light in my mother-brain went off. I knew what it was. My daughter had diabetes. That night I stole into her room and smelled her breath. It had that smell - that acetate smell that diabetics get as their body consumes their muscle tissue as it starves to death. I hardly slept that night.

I knew what to do after living with her father who has diabetes for 7 years. I was waiting on my Dr's doorstep on February 23 for a lab requisition. We went and had her blood taken. My desperate mind making up tons of excuses. "It could be a kidney infection. Infections make your breath smell funny... I'm just making this up... always a drama with me... everything is fine..." She played hookey from school and we hung out, bought old valentine's chocolate at Zellers and ate it.

She had a pottery class at the Art Centre. While she was there, the Dr's office called. Those dreaded words. She has diabetes. Take her to the hospital at once. There was absolutely no doubt. It was an absolute. We picked her up from her art class and her and I spent the night at the hospital. She spent more than a week there as they brought her blood sugars under control and figured out her insulin levels.

After that first night in the hospital, I crazily went to work where I was facilitating an employment class. Duh! Like I was any good to them! Finally after work, I went home. I can remember sitting on the bathroom floor and crying and crying and crying. I just kept thinking of my perfect baby girl. And all the things I had done to make sure she didn't get diabetes. I wept for the loss. I wept for what she was going to have to deal with - a disease we have yet to find a cure for.

That was 8 years ago. We've learned alot about diabetes in the meantime. I have struggled and she has struggled. Her teenage years have been especially difficult. And one of the very unfair things is that even in Canada where we are so fortunate to have medical services available to everyone, there are very real limits. Like we have to buy her diabetic supplies - things that she needs to live. This comes out of our family's pocket. Of course there is Pharmacare but that only kicks in after you have spent a certain amount. There have been times when I have had to choose between food or insulin or testing strips. I don't think that is right. I think diabetic supplies ought to be free. If I didn't buy them for her, she would die. And then there is the matter of treatment. The only kind of treatment that is covered by pharmacare is the most basic. Not the best. So appliances like an insulin pump that allow her to have much better control over her diabetes and the best chance for avoiding complications like blindness, kidney failure, neuropathy and early death, this I have to pay for myself. They cost $7000 and they last 2 - 5 years. The alternative to pumps is injections through needles. People with diabetes have to continually rotate their injection spots as scar tissue builds up. And for teen agers, finding a good insulin mix is very difficult as their adjusting hormones mean that their bodies metabolize insulin much quicker. And long acting insulins are undependable.

With my mother-heart finagling, I managed to get her an insulin pump for free - technically a loaner from a most awesome factory rep. He is gone and the insulin pump is on its very last legs. Probably it is toast already. We haven't been able to get it serviced because it was a loaner and the rep was transferred before it needed fixing. She needs a new pump. We need to raise $7000. We have a goal to have it well under way by April 26 when her next appointment is at the diabetes clinic. She will have to get off this pump and back onto injections.

Any ideas on ways to raise money? All the sales of my hats ( will be going to our pump fund. Kaetlyn may have some bags that she has sewn available there soon, too. And I will be updating with some spring cotton hats soon as well. We are planning on approaching some charity groups for help but we will still have to raise a significant amount ourself, even if they help us. So.... ideas? We'd love to hear some!


Mary-Sue said...

oh my dear dear friend. HOW i wish i had an instant solution. i had no idea the pain and angst you were going through. i will help in ANY way i can and will immediately start brainstorming for ideas to raise funds...

Mary-Sue said...

how about...
*a big artshow -- all talents, all ages, all mediums (statues, pottery, photography, paintings, etc.) plus a raffle for a gorgeous large piece?
*a huge garage sale ?
*starting an account where donations can be directly deposited?
*a Red Fish concert, all proceeds to the insulin-pump fund? could they play some old family favourite songs and make it a big family event?
*a bake-off of all different breads and baked goods
*a cook-off with competitions for best chili, best marinade, etc.
*a cookbook!! called "Cooking for Health" where all the recipes are healthier than the norm, but also the double meaning being for K's health too... I like this one best. And how about combining it with the concert -- an outdoor, in-the-park concert with the cookbook on sale, plus samples of the food. plus a big art-sale. combine it all! i'm getting fired up. can you tell? hee! we can DO this!!!

beetlemack said...

I want to buy one of your hats! as soon as I get some money I want to order that moss green/light green blend chenille hat! Keep it for me! And I'll start advertising your hippiehats site among my friends, on msn and on my blog and stuff. And I could donate a painting or some artwork for your site too, that you might want to try and sell. I dunno..might work..