(This moment happened a few weeks ago, during the same week that Birdy was sick with Pukefest 2012 and she was so dehydrated. I wanted there to be a definitive conclusion before I shared it. And I also wanted to be a little calmer, too. Everything is fine now.)
Just watching her, laying on the bathroom floor and acting … grouchy? Irritable? Weak? I recognized something in the way she was behaving. I knew something wasn't right. And it wasn't mother's intuition. It was recognition.
I sat on the floor next to her and took my glucose meter off the bathroom counter.
"Mama is going to test her blood sugar. See? You've seen this before."
"Exactly - Mama's medicine. So I'm going to use this little blue thing and prick my finger and - oh, there's a little bit of blood! It didn't hurt. Now I'll stick it on this machine and we'll wait and see what Mama's meter says."
My blood sugar was 104 mg/dL. The irony of that "on the box" number wasn't lost on me.
"Okay, now it's Birdy's turn, right?" I swapped out the lancet for a new one, and as I put a new test strip into the meter, I asked my daughter to let me see her foot.
"I'm going to check you now, okay? Like we did the other night? It's fine - Mama is super fast at this. Ready?" And I took her little foot into my hand and pressed the lancing device against her heel. For the first time in decades, I thought about how the lancing device worked, and how the spring shot the lancet forward. How the needle pierces the skin and you have to squeeze to draw forth that drop of blood. I remembered that it hurts.
"Oh, okay Mama."
She wiggled uncomfortably while I coaxed out a drop of blood, and the seconds scraped by like the windshield wipers against ice that just won't melt on the glass. The meter beeps, and I see a 56 mg/dL.
The next few minutes go by in a strange, nervous haze and I force her to eat some fruit snacks and have a few sips of juice. Her disposition improves, and her mood seems to change just a bit for the better. But it's hard to tell because she still has this horrible flu and is so, so dehydrated that when she cries, no tears come. I have absolutely no idea what to think, or how to react, or what to do. I gather her up in my arms and call the pediatrician.
After waiting for a bit (it was after office hours), she calls me back and we talk about what's going on. I told her about how we were at the ER earlier in the week, and how the ER docs ran labwork, including blood sugar, and how Birdy's was low. "Fifty-nine, and today she was 56." I said into the phone, and Birdy snuggled into my shoulder. I reiterated what the pediatrician at the ER said, which was that a severely dehydrated toddler can run blood sugars that are slightly lower than normal, due to the lack of hydration. And then I asked her what I should do.
"This is a unique situation, because most people don't have the tools to test their child's blood sugar at home. This could happen to a lot of kids who have the flu, and there isn't a means of tracking the data. I agree with the emergency room doctor, in that your daughter's numbers aren't way out of range. They're just slightly lower than what's considered normal for toddlers. If she were running high, we'd have a different course of action."
She and I decided that I should keep an eye on Birdy as she recovers, and to use my own discretion about testing or not testing her. I made a follow-up appointment with her for the next morning. As the week ran its course, Birdy recovered from her illness, the pediatrician gave her a clean bill of health, and we moved on once Birdy started dancing in the kitchen again.
But it stayed in my head, those moments. The following week, after her illness, I randomly checked her blood sugar again. I had to. Everyone blamed her flu and the dehydration for those low blood sugar numbers, but I had to be sure. I needed to see an in-range number so that I could let this panic go. I pricked her little heel, a week later and when she was back to her normal, bubbly self, and held my breath as the meter counted down. 86 mg/dL.
A few days after that, I did one, last, random check. 92 mg/dL.
She made a face at me and said, "Done? Done meh-cine?"
Birdy is almost two, and this is the first time I've ever tested her blood sugar myself. She drinks like Napoleon Dynamite sometimes, grabbing the sippy cup and throwing it back like she's just paced with Jay Hewitt for an Ironman. Some mornings, she wakes up and her diaper is soaked. Some days, she's just plain grumpy. But it's par for the course of any kid, at this point. I know the signs of diabetes, and I do not ignore them. Right now, she's fine and healthy and safe. And we're going with that.
"Done, baby. All done."
I know what to worry about. I refuse to wait for something to happen that may not ever happen. As I've said before, if her health status were to change, my job is to ensure that her 'happy' status doesn't.