Monday, 19 December 2011
Catherine’s Three Wishes – A Make-A-Wish Story
Catherine is 6 years old and she has 3 wishes. She wishes for dinner at El Rodeo, cotton candy, and a cure for diabetes. So far one has come true, one will come true, and the third is up to you.
But, before we get too far ahead of ourselves, let’s start from the beginning. Catherine was a very happy baby. She was perfectly healthy until she was 15 months old. What at first seemed like an illness related to teething turned into what seemed like a minor virus and ended up with a diagnosis of juvenile diabetes. After a week in the hospital and at least a week’s worth of tears, she returned home with her syringes, insulin, and test equipment and began the task of surviving the next few years.
I say she had the task of surviving because it is only through the grace of God that she made it through the first couple years. Low blood sugars can kill you quickly, and all the main signs of low blood sugars (fatigue, thirst, mood changes) are typical toddler behaviors. Since she couldn’t tell us when she was low, she was subjected to constant finger pricks to make sure her blood sugar was okay. This usually meant tests every two hours, even through the night. I can’t tell you how many times I was relieved to look in on her see that she was still breathing. After a while, she would see me pick up her blood meter, and she would toddle over to me with her finger stuck out. It pained me so much to see how ‘normal’ the pain had become for her.
She has been through several bouts of rebellion against blood tests, shots, and skipped treats over the years, but for the most part she has kept a good attitude. In her short life, we estimate that she has had 6,500 shots and 16,000 blood tests as well as several very anxious trips to the emergency room. She recently received an insulin pump which has cut down the number of shots she gets to near zero as well as improved her blood sugars dramatically. However, the idea of using a long needle to jam an insulin tube into her stomach every 4 days traumatizes her more than all the shots ever did.
Now getting back to Catherine’s 3 wishes. Back in January, I learned of a fundraiser for Give Kids the World, a charity that–in coordination with various wish granting agencies–provides meals, lodging, theme park tickets, and much much more to children with life threatening illnesses visiting central Florida. I had gone to their website to read more about the charity and make a donation. As I read, for the first time I realized that Catherine might qualify for a wish from the Make-A-Wish Foundation. We contacted Make-A-Wish and Catherine’s doctor to see if she would qualify. Make-A-Wish does not usually grant wishes to children with diabetes, but we thought that Catherine’s age at diagnosis and her age related complications might qualify her. Keep in mind that it is a common misconception that a child has to have a terminal illness to receive a wish from the Make-A-Wish Foundation. The disease just has to be life threatening, and anyone who believes diabetes is not life threatening should come back and sit with Catherine all those long nights when her blood sugars just didn’t seem like they would ever come up…and exhausted, we would collapse on the floor of her room praying that she would still be breathing in the morning.
In April, we got word that Make-A-Wish that they would grant a wish for Catherine. This was both a joyful and sobering moment….to realize that others were acknowledging how much her life has been at risk over the years. After months of keeping the potential wish a secret, we finally got to tell Catherine the exciting news.
As we waited for Catherine’s ‘Wish Fairies’ to come visit, we started to ask Catherine questions about what she would wish for if she could wish for anything. She immediately said that she would wish to go to El Rodeo, her favorite Mexican restaurant. We decided that we could grant that wish for her right away. Wish number one was taken care of.
Next, she said that she would wish for cotton candy. The only place she had ever had cotton candy was as a treat on a trip to Disney World, so of course that meant that she wanted to go back to get some again. This wish, wish number 2, would be what she would ask for from Make-A-Wish when her ‘Wish Fairies’ came to visit in early May. I will share much more about her ‘Wish Fairies’ visit in a week or two. Subscribe to our email list or our Inspirational Facebook group if you want to be sure not to miss out on the next post.
Her third wish, the one that is up all of us, is to find a cure to diabetes. Our doctors assure us that they are coming closer and closer to a cure, but that provides little comfort when the mental anguish of Insert Day (every 4th day when she has to change her pump insert) is upon us.