Kristina is now 21 and has lived with diabetes for 20 years. She started using an insulin pump when she was nine. She's on her third or fouth pump now since then.
In 2001, she was chosen to be part of the Children's Congress and showed her pump to our congressman at the time. She ran a self test on the pump and put it into his hands and laughed when it buzzed. I think that was the first time he'd ever gotten so close to a child with diabetes.
After the Children's Congress she talked about living with diabetes for several groups in our town. In 2002 we moved across the country and she started middle school and high school, educating a whole new group of people about diabetes in the process. She found in high school that there were more kids her age with diabetes. Staff asked her to befriend those who were having trouble adjusting to living with diabetes.
As she grew, she eventually took over all of her diabetes care herself. When she was 18 and heading off to college, she chose her own adult diabetes doctor and has been seeing him on her own without me ever since. Kristina is going to college in another state now and will be a senior in September. She hopes to be a high school drama/journalism teacher when she graduates in 2012. She will also be getting married in the summer of 2011.
I have watched her grow and put diabetes in her "back seat." She never let it slow her down. She'd fill her purse with snacks and her test kit and run out the door for whatever activity she was doing next. She went on band trips, to the prom and away to college and took diabetes with her. Now she's getting married and she'll put her pump in the same place where she put it for prom and diabetes will not be in the way. She is a strong young woman with a determination to succeed in her life. I'm a super proud mom!
Back in 1999 ...
Hi! My name is Kristina. I am 8 years old and I've had diabetes since I was 6 months old. My mom says I got very sick. She said I soaked my diapers all the time and I was hungry all the time. My mom felt a little guilty because I didn't want any of the cereal she was trying feed me. All I wanted were my bottles, 2 at a time! Then I got my first fever the day before Thanksgiving. Mommy called the doctor but he said not to worry, I was probably teething. But if I still had it Friday, he wanted to see me.
So I was pretty sleepy all Thanksgiving and the day after, I was throwing up. My mom took me to the doctor. He said I had my first ear infection and that I was supposed to take this medicine and drink Pedialyte. Well, I couldn't keep any of it down. That night I couldn't sleep except when Mommy was rocking and singing to me. Otherwise, I cried and cried. The next morning, Mommy knew I was hungry and tired and I wasn't any better from the day before so she took me to the hospital. They were really busy so I guess they didn't have time to really check me very well or take my mom too seriously. They took some blood from me, came back and said "Yep! She has an infection" and gave me some other medicine to take.
By now I was having a hard time breathing and they said it was nothing to worry about. So we went home. Mommy and I tried to get some rest. I was so tired. I was even too tired to cry anymore when she laid me down. After about 4 hours, my mom could hear that I was still having a hard time breathing and they had said at the hospital that I should be feeling better by now. So she took me back to the hospital. I was limp in her arms. She said I was in a diabetic coma. This time they took her seriously. They took a lot of blood and called the children's hospital to come get me. Then right before the ambulance got there, they came and told Mommy, "I think she has diabetes. Her blood sugar is 880!" But my mom was still upset with them because they still hadn't "fixed" my breathing. Well soon the ambulance from the children's hospital got there. They intubated me and a nurse did the breathing for me. At last I could rest and my mom was so glad. She says every breath had sounded like my last! Now at least I was breathing normally.
Then at the children's hospital, they took a long time checking me before they went to talk to my mom and dad and my grandparents. My endocrinologist still couldn't quite believe it was diabetes until she asked my mom about all the symptoms I'd had up until then. Then she and another doctor started to tell them all about my chances of survival, because of my age, and prepared them for the worst. My mom and dad really thought I was going to die. So my dad and my grandpa gave me a special blessing and afterwards, they all felt that God was with me and that I would be O.K. My family tells me that was the most spiritual experience they ever had.
Well, I survived and coming home day was the best in the whole world. I grew the way a normal baby should. Sometimes I really hated to be tested and get my shot. I would kick and cry and try to pull away. But Mommy and Daddy were patient and eventually we all settled into a routine. As I got older, I wanted to do things for myself which included testing myself and giving my own shots. When I was 3, Mommy and Daddy made a video of me testing myself and helping to give my own shot. They gave it to my Endo who now shows it to all the newly dignosed kids in the hospital. And then, the day before my 4th birthday, my daddy let me do my shot all by myself! Mommy was shocked! And I was very proud of myself! I like to do it every so often by myself now but not always. It sure makes it easy to have sleepovers at my friends' houses since I can do it all myself. I only need to show my friends' parents that I have the correct amount of insulin that Mommy wrote on a piece of paper for them.
I'm in 3rd grade this year. My teacher set up a small desk in a corner with a cute lamp and a stuffed bunny, where I can test. I write down my numbers on a log sheet and a note for Mommy everyday. There's lots of room in the desk for all my supplies and snacks. My friends help me to remember to have my snack in PE in the gym. I love school and diabetes doen't get in the way at school too much. All the teachers know me and the school nurse, who used to watch over me all the time, now trusts me to do it all myself unless I need her for something. This year, I've been learning to count carbohydrates. Mommy came to school everyday at lunch time to help me in the cafeteria at first. They have something different everyday and it was really hard to decide how much I could have. Now, with the help of a menu, I can do it all myself. I keep a menu in my homework folder. Mommy marked how many servings each item is which makes it very easy to choose 4 of them myself.
Someday, I hope I can have an insulin pump. For now, though, my doctor wants me to use shots and a constant carbohydrate diet. I take 4 shots a day of Humalog and NPH in insulin pens. When I'm sick or too high, I have to have an extra shot of Humalog. With a pump, I'd only have to have 1 "shot" every 2 or 3 days. I also could have anything I wanted in the cafeteria instead of only 4 items that have carbohydrates. I've been testing myself alot more to get used to all the testing you have to do when you're on a pump. And now I've learned to count my own carbs. I hope they let me have a pump soon.
I love to play soccer and so far, diabetes hasn't gotten in the way of that too much. Mommy is coaching my team this season and we have won all our games. We were doing so well that they moved us up a division so we play harder teams. But we're still winning. We're even going to a tournament in November.
I like getting letters so if you want to write to me, I'll try to write back.
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