Back to Parent' Voices Lindsay's Story

photo Lindsay Brianne Morgan is my beautiful 10 year old daughter. She has been through so much in her short life. She has experienced her parents getting divorced and a couple years later, March, 2001, she was diagnosed with diabetes. This is a story about her diagnosis and her life afterwards.

For two weeks, Lindsay had been quiet and just laid around a lot. She didn't want to play or talk on the phone. She just watched TV and didn't move very much. I asked her every day what was wrong and she always said nothing. I finally decided to call her teacher to see if something had happened at school that had her depressed. Her teacher said she was fine and that she knew of nothing happening. I talked to her father and we decided that maybe the upcoming weekend visitation with daddy would lift her spirits. Just to be on the safe side I had scheduled a doctor's appointment to have her checked for anemia or anything else that could have been making her so tired. The appointment was for Friday afternoon and was going to make her late for her dance class where daddy was picking her up. He suggested I not "rush" her to the doctor and to wait and see how she was with him. So I called the doctor and rescheduled the appointment for the following Monday. We didn't make it to that appointment.

I was so concerned about Lindsay that I stayed at the dance studio with her father to watch her. I had her father open the class door and let her know her was there hoping that would cheer her up some. He didn't want to disturb the class but I insisted that he do it so she would know both her parents were watching her through the one-way mirror. She looked so pale and skinny! I told her father that I knew something wasn't right. She just didn't look good! She had lost weight in what seemed a day or two. After class, I sent her with her father with a lot of "I love yous" and "have funs" hoping she would get over whatever was wrong. At no time did diabetes enter my mind.

Later that evening, her father called me to tell me she was vomiting a lot and just laying on the sofa. I wanted him to bring her home but he decided to keep her. By Saturday morning, she was still vomiting and feeling worse. He gave her orange juice to drink. Lots of orange juice. Saturday night, she's still vomiting and drinking constantly. We both thought she had the flu. Sunday morning he called me in a panic and said she was having trouble breathing. I said to get her home immediately that we were going to see a doctor somewhere. I had him put her on the phone and I couldn't believe what I heard. She could barely get one syllable out. I could hear her labored breathing and it sounded like she wasn't getting any air at all. I told her to put daddy back on the phone. I screamed "What's wrong with my baby? She can't breath!" I told him to get her to the nearest hospital and not to drive her back home an hour away. I rushed to the hospital and by the grace of God I made there safely.

When I entered the emergency room, they immediately took me to Lindsay. She did not look like Lindsay. Her cheeks were sunken in. Her lips were drawn in. Her eyes looked deep and hollow with dark circles under them. She had dehydrated so badly that she could not talk. She couldn't open her eyes for more than a split second. She just did not look like Lindsay at all. Her usually puffy, adorable cheeks were gone! She had so many tubes hooked up to her that I knew something horrible must be wrong. I quickly let her know that I was there and how much I loved her while trying to hold back my panic and tears. The nurse called me aside and told me that she has diabetes. On one hand I was relieved that it wasn't something even more serious but on the other I was devastated. They informed me that her blood sugar was over 1,200. She was in and out of a diabetic coma. She had lost about 1/5 of her total body weight in a couple of days due to severe dehydration. I cried and my oldest daughter, Amber, cried. We were so loud and hysterical that they made us leave Lindsay's area so we wouldn't upset her. It took a little while for us to calm down and get over the hysterics. I felt so bad for her! She was only 8 years old and had already been through too much with the divorce and other family problems. I hurt so badly for that beautiful little girl.

When we finally calmed down, we returned to Lindsay's side. This hospital, although a good one, wanted to send Lindsay to Riley Children's Hospital, citing that they are more specialized and could better care for her. They put her in an ambulance and rushed her with sirens blaring to downtown Indianapolis' Riley Hospital. They admitted her into the intensive care unit. Her blood sugar was now down in the 900's. They would not allow her to move or drink anything. She could only suck on a wet wash cloth, which I kept near her at all times. I did not leave her side and I put the corner of the wash cloth between her lips as often as she wanted. She was starting to become a little more alert and was able to tell us how thirsty she was. We told her where she was but that she couldn't have anything to drink until they got her blood sugar down some more. Of course, she didn't understand any of this yet. She just knew she was thirsty and couldn't have a drink of water.

It took about 24 hours to get her blood sugars down to a level where she could drink. She spent a couple days in ICU then was finally moved to her own room. Her color was coming back. Her little lips were back. He darling puffy little cheeks were shaping up. She started looking like my little Lindsay again. Within 4 or 5 days, she was sitting up in her hospital bed acting like her old self. She was amazing! She was checking her own blood sugar. She even started practicing giving shots. The nurses gave her lots of gifts and toys and Rufus was one of them. It really helped her having Rufus around. She was able to practice shots on him and we encouraged her. Her father, sister, and I were still in shock and were attending classes everyday to learn how to care for her and how to give shots. Before this, we were all needle-phobic! But we got over that fast!

Within a week, Lindsay was released to go home. She was put on a very strict regimen of carb counting, eating at specified and exact times, and was to be given two shots per day. Well, the two shots weren't enough. Her blood sugars were so high all of the time that our diabetes team added a third shot. About a month or so later, a fourth shot was added because we still didn't have her under control. Some days she was given up to 6 shots! The nutrition part was quite an experience also. She had to eat exactly 45 grams of carbs for breakfast, 60 grams for lunch, 45 for dinner and she was to have three additional snacks of 15 grams everyday. No matter what we were doing or where we were, Lindsay had to eat right on time with just the right amount of carbs. It was a very tough schedule and my life revolved around Lindsay and her diabetes. She wasn't even able to spend the night away from home with friends.

Within a month, Lindsay was injecting herself. She even made her own shot rotation schedule and hung it on the refrigerator. She stuck to it and always rotated her shots. Watching this 8-year old little girl draw up insulin and inject herself was quite a site! I was so proud of her. She just wanted to take charge of this disease and handle it herself. She didn't want mommy to go anywhere while she was doing it and always wanted me to check her (which of course I would have insisted upon anyway) before she did the injection. She taught her friends about diabetes and her care and she even taught her class at school. She and her school nurse held a little class about diabetes which Lindsay led. She also had a question and answer period with the students. Again, I was so proud of her!

Her school was amazing. They had trained the entire staff on how to care for her, the librarian, the kitchen staff, all the teachers who would come in contact with her, even the bus driver. They had done this before Lindsay even returned to school. The nurse even traveled to Riley Children's Hospital for training. I can't express my gratitude to them or explain just how relieved I was knowing that I could trust them to care for her as well as I did. And they took great care of her! When she had her first low at school, it was at the end of the day and after being treated, her teacher rode the bus home with her to make sure she got here safely. The nurse called me almost every single day. The staff kept their eyes on her at all times and made sure she ate exactly what her menu called for at lunch time. She was never left alone or without her purse which contained her supplies.

Today, Lindsay is on the pump. She no longer has that rigorous eating schedule and can eat whatever, whenever, she wants (within reason). She certainly has more freedom now. We still battle with the highs and lows but it is getting better. I still check her blood sugar in the middle of the night. I have caught many lows during the night while she was sleeping that required treatment. There have been quite a few times that I was awakened at other times to find a low that could have caused a seizure. I have no doubt it was the hand of God waking me just in time to take care of her.

A few months ago, Lindsay was hit with another shock. We lost her father to a motorcycle accident. This was another devastating blow to all of us. Again, she amazed me with her strength. It was just before her 10th birthday and two weeks before a national dance competition. She wanted to go ahead and dance and she did great. Although we are still trying to cope with his death, we try to stay busy and keep our lives filled with positive things. Lindsay now dances 4 days a week and is also doing two solo dances. She's still going to competitions, regular classes and private lessons. She's becoming a wonderful dancer. I know that I as the parent am supposed to be her strength, her security, but she has shown such resilience and strength that she is my hero.

She started support group at her school for kids to talk about anything that bothered them. This year she started a little group called "Safety Sisters" where she and 5 other students meet with the school counselor weekly. They are putting together a book full of safety tips. They are applying for a grant for funding this and getting it published. The girls do all the writing and illustrating under the guidance of the counselor. They intend to pass it out at all the local schools and anywhere else they can help other kids with safety tips.

She has written study guides about diabetes and used them to teach friends and then she gives them written quizzes to take. They really have fun with that. She started a neighborhood newsletter called "The Weekly Willow", named after our neighborhood, Willow Creek. Her newest endeavor is a book. She wants to actually write a chapter book about her life and experiences and how to overcome these things. I encourage the book with all my heart. I believe that with everything that she's been through, she can help others experiencing crises whether they be adult or child. I know that God has a great plan for Lindsay and that she is an inspiration for us all!

Angie Morgan

Published February 15, 2003

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Last Updated: Wednesday March 16, 2005 16:45:12
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