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Strawberries For My Daughter

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October 25th, 2007 seemed like an ordinary fall day, but I will never forget it for the rest of my life.

October was supposed to be a happy month for my family. My birthday was quickly approaching and my daughter’s favorite holiday, Halloween, was less than a week away. To add the excitement, I was preparing for my father to finally travel to America from Croatia to visit us.

I even took a day off of work to prepare for his arrival. After a full day of preparing documents and running errands, I finally stopped at the local Post office to mail all the paperwork he needed. Luckily, the lines weren’t too long and I was able to mail my package quickly and head home.

On my way home my wife called me on my cell phone and asked me if I had made the appointment with our family doctor. I nonchalantly told her that even though we planned to schedule her appointment for next week, the doctor had an opening for us that day.

Though we didn’t know it at the time, this ended up being very lucky for us.

The reason we need to take my daughter to the doctor started six months earlier, when we saw some unusual behavior from our four year old munchkin.

She had not used any diapers for over a year, but then suddenly she started wetting her pants very often.

Me and my wife were very frustrated, but we had no explanation for why she was doing that.
She seemed like a healthy kid with no unusual symptoms, except that she used to drink a lot of water and her appetite was not very good.

Her symptoms continued for several weeks, though she seemed fine when we took a family vacation to Croatia that summer.

Lana was doing pretty good during the five weeks, so we stayed there and she did not have any incidents. Her appetite was still not too good, but because of the very hot summer and without any air condition, we could not blame her for not eating that well.

When we came back to US a month later, she started to show those symptoms again, so
We finally decided that it was time to call her doctor and make that appointment.

I remember driving our car over the James River and feeling very happy inside, thinking about my father’s visit and how kids will be very excited to see him. It was a very beautiful fall day and the river looked magnificent when we crossed the bridge.

Dr. Harrison’s office is located just off downtown highway and we loved that small colorful building. We pulled up to Dr. Harrison’s office at the corner of Thompson and Grove. Though I hated going to the doctor when I was a kid because of the medical smell and ugly interior, Dr. Harrison’s office was not like that at all.

When doctor arrived, we explained to her what is going on with Lana and “hoped”
it was only a urine infection or something like that.

The look on Dr. Harrison’s face after we explained Lana’s symptoms gave us little concern, though I could never guess what she told us next.

She took urine and blood samples, after ten minutes she came back with results. She had some sugar in her urine, her BG was over 200 and normal was between 70 and 120. She looked at us and she said, “I’m sorry, but Lana has diabetes.”

Me and my wife looked at each other and then looked at her, our little daughter.

It is very hard to explain in simple words how we felt at that moment, my daughter sensed that something was terribly wrong, and you could recognize fear in her beautiful blue eyes.

Both shocked and very confused, our first response was “Diabetes?! How she can have Diabetes, she is only four years old and she weighs 40 lb!”

Dr. Harrison has been our kid’s doctor for years and we really appreciated her work,
but this was something that we could not accept in our minds.

She told us that we had to see specialist for diabetes immediately! She made a call and sent us to the Endocrinologist just a few blocks down on Grove Avenue.

We parked in front of the one-story brick house and Dr. Rudlin’s name was on the entrance door. When we got inside, Ms. Angie, the nurse quickly checked us in and the doctor was waiting for us immediately after that.

My wife and I felt sick to our stomachs and that old house smell made it even worse.

Doctor Rudlin was a short, skinny guy who walked and talked weirdly. His nurse started preparing some equipment for him. Lana was watching and she felt frightened and confused, just wanting all this to be over soon.

Doctor and his assistant without any sympathy explained to us how our lives were going to be from then. We felt that our world was falling on us and there was no way out.

Lana’s BG was over 400 when she got there, and they started to give her insulin shots in those tiny thighs. Our poor baby was crying, screaming, yelling for help and I felt so helpless. In the few hours we stayed there, she got one more shot and they pricked her fingers a couple more times to check her blood sugar. When we finally got her BG in normal range, we headed back home with a bag full of medication, test strips, needles, and a lot of fear and confusion. We stopped at the local Wal-Mart to buy some groceries, but we were afraid of buying food for her now, because of all the sugar and carbs in the food. Lana asked us if we could get her some strawberries for dinner tonight.

In an attempt to make my daughter feel better after a humble day, I drove to a few local stores to search for strawberries, but I could not find them anywhere. Mad and disappointed, I drove back home and felt so much anger inside of me. Tears were streaming down my face and I screamed at the top of my lungs and yelled, “Why! Why her?! She is such a good child! She does not deserve this!”

I wanted to step on the gas pedal and ended up in some tree or a ditch, it hurt so bad.
My body was weak, my soul was crushed, but because I love my daughter so much, I had to move on.

When I got back home, I pulled myself together and went into the house. I apologized to my daughter for not having any strawberries for the dinner and she said, “It is okay daddy, we have some apples.”

Our lives changed forever that day, but I promised myself to take care of my daughter.

LanaVjestica800

My Name is Lana Vjestica and I live in Richmond, VA. I was diagnosed with diabetes on October 25, 2007. I was only four years old. The Friends for Life conference helped me and my family to go through very difficult time. and we are very grateful to the people who work for the Children with Diabetes organization. My dad wrote this story for his English class at the University of Richmond. I just started my first year at this college. Do not give up on your dreams!

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