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Saturday, January 10, 2009

Macy in the Sky with Diamonds

It's said that life can change on a dime. I've known that to be true before, and I've recently experienced the truth of that idiom again. After a very-merry-Christmas my family of four was turned upside down with the type 1 diabetes diagnosis thrust upon our seven year old daughter, Macy. Sure, she'd been guzzling water for weeks, but she said she just loved it and liked to call it "beauty juice" as referenced by her Auntie Leslie. Maybe she had too much salt in her diet. And so she had a voracious appetite, but kids go through growth spurts, right?

It wasn't until that day at the beach that I really began to believe something was wrong. On Monday (12/29/08) we went to Manresa to play on the beach while Brian surfed. It was a cloudless day, a bit chilly, but gorgeous and welcomed after several days of winter rain. Our four-year old, Brendan, quickly busied himself with shovels and pails, while Macy (normally the more energetic of the two) sat still on a blanket, energy drained.

Flashback to a Tuesday in February of 2008. My twelve year old dog, Emi, the dog-of-my-life, my "soul dog," was diagnosed with cancer and the doctor said that while unsure of how long she had left, we would know when it was time to let her go. My mom said that I'd know Emi was ready when she wasn't happy at the beach. That Thursday I took her to the beach and tears streamed down my face as I accepted her obvious apathy. The beach, her stomping ground and play ground for twelve plus years, couldn't even bring a wag to her weary tail. The following Sunday we said our final thank-yous and good-byes to Emi.

Back to Manresa: Lesson learned: Something was wrong. The following afternoon I took Macy to the doctor who, after examining a simple urine test, proclaimed her as a type 1 diabetic. He arranged for Macy to be admitted to Lucile Packard Children's Hospital at Stanford the same evening. As he walked us to our car he said carefully, "Don't dally," meaning that we needed to get our girl under professional care immediately.

Two nights later we returned from Stanford skilled in insulin injections, gluclose counts and carbohydrates. Whose life was this? How did we get here? Can I please re-read the script?

And so life changed on a dime.

Our learning curve is a steep one as we negotiate the treatment of diabetes. Four to five blood gluclose checks and three insulin injections a day for Macy are the new "normal." I am grateful, furious, optimistic, broken-hearted, and strident all at one time. Macy is AMAZING: Cheering me on when I give her a shot that doesn't hurt and encouraging me that it will be better the next time when I give her one that does. She carefully watches and approves every finger prick and injection as if she's a doctor overseeing a first year med-student. She's barely complained and inspires me daily.

As I ran yesterday I played word games with diabetes. I hate that it starts with D-I (as in d-i-e). I tried to think of a more empowering D-I word. Immediately I pictured Princess Di, but shook off the image as I imagined her death. Diocese? Nah, too controversial nowadays. Diagonal? Doesn't make sense. Diagnosis? Scary. Diamond? YES! Diamond! Macy is a big, brilliant DIAMOND. She is strong, she is beautiful. From now on, diamonds will symbolize her beauty and strength as she travels her life path with a diagnosis of diabetes. One day she will have a diadem of diamonds.

Life changes on a dime. And now it's symbolized by a diamond. Works for me.

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