One summers day in 2002 when my daughter was 16 her life changed dramatically as she was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. For both her and me life would never be the same again. I was to begin a journey with a roller coaster of emotions, one for me that will never end.
We were on holiday in Disney Land Paris and in those final days, before being diagnosed, I watched my precious child fade away, emaciated with an unquenchable thirst, and at the end unable to breathe before finally collapsing and being airlifted to intensive care in Paris (a doctor had misdiagnosed gastroenteritis). As she was taken from me for the first time in my life I felt numb, in shock and completely bereft, wanting to wake up from the nightmare. Then, as reality sunk in, my grief overwhelmed me as I sobbed every night for hours, knowing what such a condition would mean for Laura.
I cried tears of sadness so strong it felt like a physical pain, that lead to tears of anger and frustration. They are tears that still fall when the sadness I carry inside me surfaces, usually when Laura is unwell. Over the years I have tried to rise above my feelings in order to be strong for Laura, who was struggling with her diabetes. I have become an expert at hiding my feelings of sadness and often desperation, tears pricking at my eyes, only to let them fall when she leaves the room.
At the time of her diagnosis I questioned everything. "Why my beautiful baby girl? What did she do to deserve this?" She has always been intelligent, articulate, beautiful and perfect in every way. A gentle child, sensitive and almost ethereal as she seemed to float through life on her own little cloud. It was so unfair that life had dealt her the cruellest of blows. I felt so alone in my sadness and didn't feel anyone could identify with it or help me. No help was offered to me as a mother, maybe because Laura was diagnosed at 16 and was sent straight to an adult diabetes clinic, I'm not sure but inside I was crying out for help.
I recall the trauma of being told in French that my daughter has diabetes, simply that and no further clarification or explanation, and being presented with a bill for her hospital care. I remember the hours we spent with tears pouring down our faces as my precious daughter was poised with a syringe over her leg, attempting to inject herself for the very first time. It broke my heart and honestly, it will never mend.
Over the following years there were multiple hospital admissions with DKA (diabetic ketoacidosis) as Laura struggled to come to terms with her condition. To me, the smell of ketones had become normal. Laura would sob buckets in hospital as painful blood gasses and endless cannula insertions were carried out whilst feeling so unwell at the same time. I would be inwardly sobbing but putting on a brave face for my precious Laura. I always wanted to say to nursing staff on discharge - Please don't send us away without help, I can't cope, it's going to happen again. I never said it because I knew deep down that Laura needed to come to terms with her diabetes and asking for help, I couldn't do that for her.
I felt helpless frightened and full of pessimism for Laura's future. I had to endure hearing my daughter saying things that a mother would never imagine she would hear from her cherished child. Laura would say - My life expectancy has been reduced by 20 years and I may die before you, I won't need a pension. Last year whilst in A&E resus she asked me "Mum am I going to die?"
On a more positive note, Laura has made me the proudest mother in the world. She has turned her own personal health around and is on a mission to promote a positive attitude towards diabetes in her own quirky and unique way in order to help others. She has come through this painful journey and has grown into an articulate intelligent and beautiful young woman who is phased by nothing. My tears are now tears of joy, knowing as only a mother knows that she will undoubtedly continue on her journey leaving her own very precious footprint, blazing a trail wherever she goes, touching the lives of many as she now seeks out her own destiny.
Ninjabetic's Mum x