As if Nicole wasn’t already busy enough with six children, her daughter Cara was diagnosed with diabetes at three years. I invite you to read about Nicole, and then visit her at The We CARA Lot Blog. You can also follow her on Twitter; she’s @weCARAlot.
I’d like to introduce you to Nicole of the We CARA Lot Blog.
Tell me something about your child.
Cara is 4 years old and just started senior kindergarten. She is my fourth child out of six. She is full of energy, she is always moving and a grooving. She is funny, full of smiles and loves to run, she is always on her toes. She’s our little track star! When she is not running, Cara loves to sing her little heart out to her favorite songs, as long as no one is watching.
Cara is definitely the shyest of my kids, she feels secure around her siblings and when she is by herself she is almost lost.
On the opposite side of the coin, Cara is the loudest one in my home; that girl is a screamer. She screams when she’s happy and she screams when she’s mad. She is a very complex child.
Oh yeah, Cara and my family are Canadian…EH!
How old was your child when diagnosed?
Cara was 3 years and 3 months old when she was diagnosed. It was February 13, 2009…a day that changed everything!
How was your child diagnosed?
Cara’s diagnosis was one that could have had a very bad ending. Cara had been sick for months, on and off. With six children in our house it’s like a revolving door of sickness in the winter months (sad but true).
With every sickness that entered our home Cara always was the one sick with the few others whom brought the virus home. We kept bringing her to clinic after clinic and they kept telling us “It’s a virus; let it run it’s course.” One time a doctor gave us an antibiotic because he did not know really what it was but “this will help” he said. She would get better for a little while then all of a sudden be sick again…she was really sick.
After three months of this cycle I brought her to the pediatrician. Looking back I can’t believe that it took me so long to see what REALLY was going on. But with 6 kids, doctors telling me it’s no big deal, Christmas, moving into a new house…with everything going on, I think I just hoped it would go away. I just hoped that the doctors were right!! So finally we went to see her doctor because it finally hit me something was very wrong with my little baby.
Cara’s symptoms were as followed: She was down to her 26 month weight, she had a rash on her bum (so painful and red), she started peeing a lot and the drug addicted behavior toward water had just started that weekend before, she was always starving and she was just wiped right out. Her doctor told us not to worry about her weight and that she would get it back as soon as she started to feel better. He gave us cream for her bum thinking that she had a yest infection (we were later told that the rash was caused by peeing out sugar and her bodies pH levels were all thrown off). He told us that she would be fine and sent us home with a SUCKER.
So we went home, I guess feeling relieved that the doctor did not seem concerned, but I think deep down I knew something was very wrong! She ate two heaping plate fulls of Kraft dinner (mac & cheese) and went to bed. About a 1/2 hour later she woke up, threw up, and I rushed her to the ER. We waited in the ER for 3 1/2 hours and she was diagnosed with a blood sugar of 53.2 mmols or 956.7 (U.S).
How has your family’s life changed since diagnosis?
Since Cara’s diagnosis our family has gone through many changes and a lot of stress, emotionally and financially, but the most noticeable change is in our family dynamic.
Type 1 is everywhere and everything in our house now. It’s the first thing we think about when we wake up and the last thing we think of when we go to bed, even when we are sleeping we can’t escape it.
And it’s not just us parents that are T1 obsessed. Even when the kids play with their toys, their toys have Type 1 diabetes. You can’t get away from it, it creeps into every aspect of your life.
But the biggest change are the changes in relationships between my kids. Before diagnosis Cara did not get so much individual attention, she was quiet and sweet and she was happy to be following her big sister Kylie around.
Since the diagnosis all attention is on her and it has really affected Kylie and Cara’s relationship. Kylie is my red head, blue eyed attention getter and Cara was very happy being her side kick. After Type 1 diabetes all was changed and Cara was taking center stage. Kylie started to gravitate towards her older brother Connor a lot more because with him she still stuck out and people noticed her.
It is very sad to see the wonderful friendship that they had being destroyed by Type 1 even though it was a little one-sided. It worked for them and it was nice to see them bonding like that but now that is gone I can only hope that one day they are able to reconnect. Right after Cara’s diagnoses Kylie said that she wished she had Type 1 diabetes and my heart just sank.
Also my oldest daughter Kailyn has had to take on more of a caregiver relationship with Cara. Since she is the oldest and the most capable out the kids she has had to step up more then a few times and help out in the diabetes management for Cara, especially at school. When teachers had no idea what to do with Cara and Type 1 diabetes we were very lucky to have Kailyn there to lend a helping hand. It is a stress that I should not have to put on my 13 year old daughter, but it is one of the ways I know Cara is safe a school.
How has connecting online helped you cope with diabetes?
Online was where I made my very first connections. After we left the hospital we were so alone. While we were in the hospital there was another family whose son was diagnosed as well. But his mom was in a very raw and dark place and it was not a place that I could go.
Our family and friends were trying to help and trying to understand, but they really had no clue. My husband, the only one that “got me” and understood what I was going through, really keeps his thoughts and emotions to himself so it left me with all these feelings inside and I had no idea where to turn or how to express them.
One day while searching on the internet I ran across a few blogs written by moms of children who have Type 1 diabetes. My first was Chasiti at Forget the Chicken Nuggets You Can’t Play on the Playground Until You Eat Your Fries. Her blog name made me smile but I just started to cry as I began to read her blog because I found the place I belonged.
These people understand what I’m going through….I mean they really GET IT. I’m just so thankful and happy that people are willing to share their stories and experiences with others and I wanted to return the favor and become a part of it.
How do you manage diabetes?
Cara is on MDI (multiple daily injections) of Novo rapid after she finishes eating her breakfast (3 units), lunch (2.5units) and dinner (2 units) and 5 units of Lantus at bedtime. We have a required and restricted amount of carbohydrates she must eat at each meal and snack time. Each meal is 30-45 grams of carbs. Her snacks, one in the morning and one in the afternoon, are 15-20 grams of carbs. Her bedtime snack is 20-25 grams of carbs.
We check Cara’s blood sugar about 7-10 times a day depending on how she is feeling and what she did during that day.
What would you tell parents of a newly diagnosed child?
I truly think that I would just cry with them and just listen for a while.
I would say that they can do this, it’s a lot of work, very time consuming but they will and they can do it.
I would tell them that there will be bad days and there will be great days. Hold on to the great days and move on from the bad days.
Our children are strong, amazing little people and all we can do as parent is our best and of course they are NOT alone!
Tell me about your outreach and fundraising.
Outreach and support groups are very important to me right now. Since Cara’s diagnosis I’ve always wanted a local connection and I have found it through the JDRF. I’m on an outreach and support group committee and we plan wonderful events for D-parents and D-families in our area.
Our second outreach meeting was a back to school event for D-parents which became a driving force behind a motion that has been brought in front of our catholic school board to have policies/procedures in place in the schools for children with Type 1 diabetes. The motion was deferred until next month and I promise you this will be something to watch, it’s going to be a fight that I’m very dedicated to.
Our support group meets every 2nd Monday night for parents who have children with Type 1 diabetes.
We also have a wonderful team of walkers and pledgers that join us every year for our local JDRF Walk for a Cure. This year The We CARA Lot team was in the top 5 money raising teams…thanks again to everyone who is involved and who had made a donation 🙂 xoxox
Anything else you would like to add?
I would just like to say a great big THANK YOU to everyone who takes a few minutes out of their day to read The We CARA Lot Blog. I really do appreciate it. It takes a lot of time for me to write and re-read and re-write and re-read my posts again because I am dyslexic and I try to get everything as perfect as I can.
It’s very time consuming, sometimes very embarrassing and other times quite frustrating when spell check can’t quite figure out what I’m trying to spell. This is something that I never thought that I would see myself doing but I feel so much love and support from everyone who leaves comments and everyone who I have made a friendship with it is and has been so worth it! And thanks to you Leighann for asking me to be your featured mom 🙂
Meet other D-Moms and D-Dads on Mondays.