Taking BB back into hospital last week unleashed a well of emotion that I didn’t realise I still carried inside. We parked in the same bay as we had when we came in for surgery eighteen months before. I remember walking out in May 2012 promising myself I would keep her safe and not end up there again.
Time has proven to me once again that I should refrain from making promises I simply cannot keep.
We walked in the brightly lit building, I walked to the ward, clutching an overnight bag, two books, three teddies and an excited daughter. She practically skipped into nurses station, I dragged my heels reluctantly behind.
Within two minutes I was counting my blessings. Around us were kids with wires, babies being carried by anxious parents, children who were all too familiar with the nursing team. I felt humbled to have kids who only pop in to hospital, I berrated myself for the times I have complained about the hand we have been dealt.
We settled in, I’m an old pro at sorting the telly, making my bed, and finding the weakly brewed tea. BB hurtled into the play room, bouncing with laughter, launching from toy to bike to toy again.
Her starvation test began at 6.30pm. Its purpose being to see if her blood sugars fell below ‘normal range’ within 20 hours. Normal for a child is a blood sugar reading of between 4 and 8. The aim was to let BB get to 2.6 and then take blood to determine the cause of her hypoglycemia.
At 6.55pm, 25 minutes into the test, BB told me she was starving. At 7.15 I had to physically restrain her from taking a bite out of my tuna sandwich which I finished later when she finally fell asleep.
The morning started at 8am, sleep was fitful, BB woke at every blood test, on the hour every hour. When I finally peeled myself from my coarse cotton sheets I felt like I had been beaten by an alien in my brief sleep.
And BB was hungry.
At 8am her blood sugars were 3.6, already the impact of being parted from food for 13 hours was causing her to drop below a ‘normal range’.
At 9am, the child was driving me spare. Frequent requests for food and general wails of horror when denied were making my ears bleed. Tiredness was overwhelming my sympathy gene. Her blood sugar reading was taken and she was 3.2.
The diabetic mother in me started to react, the urge to force sugar on my daughter was intense. I sat on my fingers and gritted my teeth and started to panic.
The hour ticked by, my daughter stopped asking for food, she stopped talking altogether. She ceased to smile, speak, or acknowledge my inane chatter. Instead I watched as a sweat spread over her, her eyes turned glassy, her body limp and dark circles appeared on her face.
Anyone could see that suddenly my healthy little girl looked awfully sick.
10am and finally a nurse with a needle appeared and pricked my daughters skin.
“2.4” she declared and then pressed a buzzer and we were off.
Two doctors appeared with vials that needed filling. The cannula in BB’s hand seized up and refused to donate blood. We were whisked to a room, needles appeared, “I’m sorry” said the doctor and she plunged one into my daughters hand.
She screamed loud and long as they pulled and pushed at her veins. She sweated, sobbed and eventually passed out, then laid motionless in my arms, her fight flushed away.
“It’s ok, as soon as the lab confirm a blood sugar of less than 2.6, we can give her sugar” stated the doctor. “We will push it through.”
Twelve vials of blood lay on the side, red dots gathered at my feet, brusies were already forming on her hands.
“We need to wake her.”
We pinched, called, and rubbed water on my child who eventually woke with a wimper.
I started to breathe again.
We took her blood sugar, 1.2.
She was barely there. Only 15 hours after being fed my daughter looked malnourished, ghoulish and terribly, terribly ill.
What felt like forever occurred until someone appeared with apple juice and told me she could drink. I brought my daughter back to life with apple juice and toast.
An hour later, her blood sugar was 10. Higher than ‘normal range’ but normal apparently, following sugars that low.
The dark circles disappeared a day later. The bruises are just starting to turn yellow.
The test results will be in next week.
It may be nothing, she may just be a girl who needs to wake up to a juice.
I can manage something I can treat with juice.
24 hours after we walked in, we walked out of the hospital.
For that I am forever grateful.