Wednesday, December 13, 2006

One sunny summer day

The day I was diagnosed I'll never forget. I can't remember the date exactly, it was somewhere in May 1991, but I remember the day as it was yesterday.

I was nine. School was over and my mom took me and my sister to my grandma's, who lived in another town. It was a usual ruitine. I always spent summers at my grand parents, it was the happiest time of the year. Three months of running freely and playing with my friends in a wonderful weather and spending time with my grandparents, who were wonderful and loved me to pieces. I was truly the happiest kid and waited impatiantly every year for the summer.

But that summer was already different. My grandpa died a year ago from cancer, everyone was still in shock and grieving including me. My grandma moved to another neighborhood, meaning I couldn't play with my friends anymore and have to make new ones. But I was still positive, my sister was with me and my mom didn't have to leave immediately to go back home. I was expecting it to be a good summer after all but then the unexpected happened.

I have to mention that my grandma is a doctor. So when she saw me and all the 'lovely' symptoms, that were worring my mom already for a month, she knew immediately. I lost weight, I was drinking too much water and going to the bathroom a lot, I was pale and refused to eat even my favourite foods. I still remember all four of us, my grandma, my mom, my sister and me, sitting in a sunny kitchen having breakfast. There was a freshly-baked carrot cake and chocolates on the table but I wasn't interested in any of those (if only I knew I wouldn't be alowed to eat any sweets already that evening). My mom and my grandma were talking about me, I didn't pay much attention, but I remember the serious and sad expression on my grandma's face and my mom's extreamly worried.

We're supposed to go for a walk afterwards and play outside the whole day. Instead I was told I have to go with my grandma to the hospital. Why? Why do I have to go to the hospital? Why do I have to do tests? What's going on? We're on vacation and we're going to play and enjoy the sun. Well, vacation was over there and then, as well as my childhood.

After visiting what seemed to me hundreeds of hospitals and doctors (my grandma wanted to get second opinions, I just think she was hoping to hear that what was obvious wasn't true). I remember being very tired from all the walking and waiting and being in the places I didn't want to be. I saw children in the pediatric ward and thought thatnks god I'd never have to stay in the hospital as they do, and that just in a couple of hours I'd be home, in comfort and safity with my family, and I'd just forget that awful day ever happened.

Little did I know. My grandma knew more. They just tested my blood glucose, it was 17. I was so exhausted at that point and stressed by the surialness of the day, it all seemed like a nightmare, so I decided that my grandma is joking or went crazy when she started to talk that I might need to stay in the hospital tonight and that it's not that bad. I thought there couldn't be anything else more scarry and horible. I was a very loved and home child, and the idea of spending a night away from my family terridied me to death.

So the verdict was made. Next thing was my mom finding out and starting crying so hard and so much that I knew at that point that something was wrong, that it might not all go away that easily as I thought. I still didn't have a clue what's going on but I started to worry. My mom was crying the whole day and the day after and I think the whole week after that. That sorrow written on her face and helpness I still see them so clear. I was asking her over and over again why was she crying and telling her she didn't have to, that I was fine, but that only made her cry even more.

In the evening my mom took me to the hospital and I was hospitalised for two weeks. The doctor told me that I should forget about all the sweets (at that time it was still believed that diabetics shouldn't eat anything containing sugar). And I thought for a thousands time that day: "What happened to all the adults today? They're all talking crazy. They don't have to be so serious, nothing happened."

Well soon enough I understood that the adults didn't all go crazy simultaniously, it's not a nightmare, it's very very real, all of it - hospitals, doctors, shots and pricks, and most horrible - being away from my family.

But after two weeks I was released from the hospital and could finally start enjoying the summer. I was a normal kid again. I didn't see much of a difference made in my life. Shots didn't bother me too much and of course I couldn't grab the whole seriousness of the diabetes at that age, when the sky is blue and sun is shining and your memory is very short of the bad experiences, and you truly think that it's all just temporally, of course I'm not going to have diabetes forever, and of course I won't have to go to the hospital again, it's all in the past, I can just continue with my happy life with just a couple of shots a day, no biggie.

Thinking back now I can't even start to imagine what a terrifying time it was for my mom, how big a stress and task felt on her shoulders, how lost and lonely she must have felt (there was not much information on diabetes at that time where we lived), how scarred she must have been and how worried about doing it right.

But she kept it together for me, she learned, she was strong for me, she changed the lifestyle of the whole family, she loved me enough to be strict when needed, she was patient, she was carying, she was helping me through. She made it so easy, well as easy as it could be. I didn't even notice much the first couple of years with diabetes, well except for those quarterly hospital stays, which got worse and worse with each time.

So I'm just thankful to my mom for all she did. She taught me right, she prepared me for being able to handle the diabetes on my own when I grew up. And I'm thankful to her for being brave and trusting me enough to let me go at sixteen and start my own life, start my search for myself and for what I want to do with my life. Thank you mom! I love you!


MileMasterSarah said...

Awesome post, Sasha. I remember my diagnosis as well, it was also in 1991, and I was 13. My daughter was recently diagnosed, and she is three. When you talked about what you saw on your mom’s face and how you really didn’t understand what was going on, I’m sure that happened with Gracie as well. I know I had that look on my face. It was terrible for me, much worse than my own diagnosis.

Scott said...

What a great post Sasha.

I am totally in awe of my parents, and all the parents out there (period), but especially those with children fighting diabetes.

Sasha said...

Thank you Sarah and Scott for your warm responses. It was a bit difficult for me to publish that post, I wasn't entirely sure, but I'm glad I did. It's good to get it out and to share.