My 7-year-old daughter Morgan was home with what I thought was the flu. My son had been home with the flu for 5 days, so I thought Morgan was also coming down with the same illness. The strange thing about Morgan was that she was excessively thirsty and abnormally tired. She was looking emaciated. Something didn't seem quite right to me so I called our pediatrician.
At first, the pediatrician thought Morgan had the flu, but after taking her blood and urine test he asked to speak to me in private. He told me her blood sugar level was so high that his machine was not able to read her numbers. Morgan was in danger of falling into a diabetic coma. "Mrs. Mahre, I think the best place for Morgan to be right now is Children's Hospital Oakland", he said. "Put her in your car, drive her directly to the Emergency Room, and carry her through the Emergency Room doors. You are not sitting in the waiting room." That is exactly what I did. The doctor had called ahead and told them we were coming.
Morgan went straight into emergency at Children's Hospital and Research Center Oakland and was given immediate attention. I was surprised that the Director of Endocrinology and a nurse practitioner came into the emergency room to meet our family and let us know they were going to take good care of Morgan.
Morgan was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, also called juvenile diabetes, which is caused by a malfunction of the body's immune system. With Type 1 diabetes the immune system attacks the insulin producing cells in the pancreas rendering the pancreas unable to produce insulin. Without insulin, the glucose in her blood doesn't get converted to energy for the cells in her body. People with Type 1 diabetes must take insulin for the rest of their lives to stay alive. Insulin does not cure diabetes, nor does it prevent its eventual and devastating effects such as kidney failure, blindness, nerve damage, heart attack and stroke.
Morgan spent two days in intensive care (ICU), where her body was replenished with fluids so insulin could be given intravenously. Morgan spent another three days in the hospital. During that time, my husband and I were trained how to care for Morgan. We learned about Type 1 diabetes, insulin types, blood sugar testing, treatment of high and low blood sugar levels and how to give insulin shots. Additionally we were counseled on nutrition and a school plan. At Children's Hospital Oakland, the family must demonstrate that they are fully capable of caring for the child's diabetes before the child can be taken home.
It had now been six months since Morgan's hospital stay. We are challenged every day with effectively balancing food, exercise and insulin. Morgan has three to four insulin shots every day and pricks her fingers at least six times a day to check her blood sugar level.
We thank Children's Hospital Oakland for their distinguished and caring doctors and nurses. The diabetes support team has been instrumental in our education and care for Morgan. We have great hope that researchers, maybe even Children's Hospital Oakland researchers, will find a cure for Type 1 diabetes during Morgan's lifetime.