The Patient in East 320
By Doug Beauregard
Shocked! Stunned! Saddened! These are the emotions I felt on that Thursday evening in November (11/14/02). That's the day Hannah was diagnosed with Diabetes. I wanted to ask "Why Hannah?" but I couldn't. I wanted to kick myself for the mistakes that I made over the last several weeks. How could I tell her she didn't need water when her blood cells craved it? How could I tell her it was time for bed when she looked and me and said, "Daddy me hungry." Diabetes has effected members on both sides of our family, my aunt and Mary's brother. As I held Hannah that night, I cried. When no one was looking, I hugged her tight and cried some more.
Hannah's story began in March of 2000. Mary and I desired to have a sibling for Ryan, but we had to wait four years longer than we intended. On March 11, we went to Borgess Medical Center. Knowing the delivery would be a C-Section, Mary was nervous. Our worries, at least mine, were eased as we were introduced to Dr. Dungy. Dr. Dungy is the sister of Tony Dungy, coach of my beloved Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Dr. Dungy delivered Hannah without complications. This day was just the beginning of an incredible little girl's life.
Over the next 2 1/2 years, Hannah has become 'special' to many people. A young patient at the hospital said, "She has the biggest, most beautiful eyes." She was an honorary member of Ryan's Cub Scout den. She had her own Boy Scout shirt and went overnight camping with them. She impressed family members by hiking 2 miles over rough terrain to stand on a glacier in Alaska. Other family members look forward to her phone calls just to say, "Hi." Local businesses enjoy her visits. Her coaches at gymnastics enjoy working her. And, the boys on Ryan's soccer team adore her.
At the end of summer, we felt her potty training days were over. We canceled diaper service and began using pull-ups. All of a sudden, Hannah began drinking all the time. She would always want "more." At that time, she began to go to the bathroom frequently. After she used the potty, she would wet her diaper. It seemed as if she could never stay dry. Nightly, her bed would be wet. Things had reverted. We didn't know why, but we were concerned. These were the signs that lead to her check-up.
This wasn't the first Emergency Room visit for Hannah. In early November, she fell and hit her head while making cookies. As she stood on a chair, she leaned too far and fell. Within 30 minutes, Hannah began throwing up. We spent four hours at Bronson. The doctors did a C.A.T. Scan to assure there was no damage to her head. As a parent, it was difficult holding her hand, seeing "my little girl" motionless, covered in blankets, being placed into a C.A.T. Scan. Officially she suffered a concussion.
November 14th, Mary and I were faced with a whole new level of emotions. Our concerns regarding her drinking and bathroom became an abrupt reality. Hannah was diagnosed with Diabetes. Her lab test came back with a sugar level of 730. We spent the weekend trying to understand and educate ourselves about Diabetes, Hannah, and the role we will play in her life. Initially, her blood sugar will be checked 4 times a day, and she will receive 3 insulin shots. Her carbohydrates have to be carefully regulated, so I have become a professional 'carb counter.' Hannah's target range for her blood sugar is between 80-180. Her test results, ketones, diet, and medicine are documented and reported to the doctor each day.
Hannah has her own diabetic bracelet and Rufus, a teddy bear with Diabetes. A website, childrenwithdiabetes.com, sent Rufus to Hannah. When the box arrived, Mary, Ryan, and I knew a bear was in the box. What we didn't know was the feelings Rufus would bring to our family. At first Hannah was reluctant towards Rufus. She quickly ran to her room and got her bear. She even had Ryan go and get my bear. By the end of the night, she had taught Rufus how to do head stands, bridges, forward rolls, and she wanted to give him his evening shot. Rufus and Hannah have their tests and medicine together. She will remind Rufus, "you need your medicine so you don't get sick and because we love you."
We have seen some incredible changes in Hannah's behaviors. She drinks considerable less. Her bathroom habits have slowed down. She has been dry overnight 4 evenings in a row. While sleeping, she used to roll, kick, toss, and turn all night. Now, she appears to sleep much more comfortable. She even sleeps in her bed opposed to sleeping in mine. Friends have told us that Hannah seems to have more energy as well. Hannah willing gave me her finger for testing and reminded me that I "needed to wipe her finger first." Both Hannah and Rufus can put a special band-aid on when they are finished.
We are thankful for the doctors and nurses that have cared and will care for Hannah. We are thankful for the support our families and friends have provided. We are thankful for those of you that have felt sick on our behalf. We are thankful for those of you that pray and ask others to pray for us. Your encouragement and support is always appreciated. We will have to make many adjustments in our lifestyle, eating habits, and family routines. With support, changes can be made. Andů Our lives have forever been changed.
Most importantly, we are thankful for each other. Ryan is an excellent big brother. He would administer the shot if we would let him. He routinely asks about her blood sugar results. On his sister's behalf, Ryan has adopted Diet Mountain Dew as his drink of choice. Mary has shown great parenting-skills. She has an incredible desire to take care of Hannah. I have become the learner opposed to the teacher. I have learned to count carbs and give shots.
Please don't encourage us to 'fight,' or 'beat' diabetes. Diabetes is not a game; there are no winners. If a cure were found, we would celebrate. Until then, it is a medical condition that we have to manage for Hannah. Please don't apologize either. No one is responsible for Hannah having Diabetes. It is a part of her life, and we love her for who she is (a CWD, Child With Diabetes).
I have never been more proud of someone than I am of Hannah. She is a very strong, tough, little girl. I have seen her darkest moments ("Daddy me hungry"), and now I see the bright future ahead of her. And I will tell Hannah's story to anyone, every chance I get. You see... her story isn't about Diabetes. Her story is about a Child With Diabetes. Our lives have been changed, but they have been changed for a very good reason, Hannah Leigh Beauregard.
Doug receives e-mail at skbatmen AT aol.com.
Published February 7, 2003
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