‘My daughter was knocked out. Joking, I asked if she was breathing. Until I felt no movement.’: Mom loses daughter to undiagnosed childhood diabetes

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“I have avoided this post for awhile, it is long but I promise it is important. I would like to share with you the worst night of my life. Not because I want your pity, but because I would like to inform you of an issue that is very important and no one really thinks about.

In the wee hours of March 22, 2018, it was like any other. I got off work and I headed to pick up my daughter. She had spent the last week with her dad and I was ready for my snuggles. I was excited to hear about her week and I was dreaming of the late morning breakfast and playtime we would have when we woke up.

When I got to the babysitter’s, she had carried her to my car; my daughter was completely knocked out. She had had a hard day. In an offhanded way I asked if she was breathing, joking. Until I put my hand on her little chest and I felt no movement. In that moment I completely freaked out. I couldn’t finish a thought. I knew I needed to get her back inside and start CPR. I was so mad and terrified. I was yelling at everyone who got in my way or tried to say something.

I ran her back inside and laid her down and started CPR on her little limp body. In my head I knew I needed to remain calm but I couldn’t. I was yelling at my babysitter and trying to think about doing chest compressions and breathing and freaking out the entire time.

Little girl with undiagnosed diabetes smiling as she sits on soccer ball
Sierra Greenlee

Finally after what seemed like an hour, which in actuality was probably only 15 minutes, EMS got there and took over. For the next hour while they tried desperately to bring me back my baby, I called my parents and her dad. I paced, I cried, I prayed. At times I felt like an outsider watching this awful event unfold. I had always had these nightmares but it was never supposed to happen, not to me. It was the most surreal moments in my life.

After an hour of watching them pump my little girl’s chest and breathe for her, they loaded her up in the ambulance and we followed behind. As we drove to the hospital the worst thoughts flooded into my head. I thought of the fact that the last time I had seen my baby awake, she was begging me not to go to work, and I went anyway. I was thinking about what it would mean for me if she was gone. I thought of what it would be like to plan my child’s funeral and all the things I would miss out on. I prayed to God that if only he would spare my baby, I would do whatever he wanted.

When we got to the hospital they lead me to the small room off of the waiting room and started asking me all the questions they ask when you go to the hospital. I foolishly thought, ‘This is a good sign. They want to admit her.’ I was there for maybe 10 minutes before a doctor came in, sat down beside me and said the words that would forever change my world. He said, ‘We did everything we could but unfortunately we were unable to revive her, and she did not survive.’

That one little sentence devastated my entire being. Everything I was, was in that little girl. She was my absolute pride and joy. If you asked me how I was doing it would usually go something like, ‘I’m good, my daughter…’ But in that moment I couldn’t feel anything. It was like my heart had stopped too. I was an empty shell. The shock was overwhelming.

Little girl with undiagnosed diabetes wears tutu and crown outside near tree
Sierra Greenlee

When they took me to her little lifeless body laying on that big hospital bed, I lost it. I wanted to hold her and lay with her. They let me. I held her as the heat slowly left her body and her skin became cold to the touch. If I wasn’t holding her, I was running my hands through her little hair. Singing her favorite song.

After about 30 minutes or so they came to me and told me they had run some tests, and it appears she had undiagnosed Type 1 diabetes and her blood sugar level was in the 500s. I could not comprehend this information. How could my baby have diabetes? She had gone to her wellness checkup only the week before, and they told me she was healthy. How could she have died from a disease that I know thousands of people manage?

Little girl with undiagnosed diabetes sits smiling on kitchen counter
Sierra Greenlee

For those of you who do not know, an average person’s blood sugar should not be above 100, and my child’s was 5 times the healthy amount. At 300-400 you start to go comatose. My baby had slipped into a coma and her little body was unable to fight its way out, and it gave out. There were no signs leading up to this – it was unexpected. Diabetes does not run in either of our families and so we had no idea.

Later I found out that diabetes is not something they test for in small children. They don’t typically test until they are school age and show signs. Unless of course it runs in the family.

Grave of little girl with undiagnosed diabetes who passed away
Sierra Greenlee

The signs for diabetes in toddlers are they drink a lot and pee a lot, and are tired. These signs are easily missed and overlooked because most toddlers do these things. The test is a simple blood sugar test that you have to request at their wellness checkup.

So I beg you to ask your child’s doctor to test for it. I beg you to become aware of the signs and symptoms of childhood diabetes. I beg you to share this post and story with everyone because no parent should ever have to hear the words, ‘I’m sorry but unfortunately she did not survive.’

Thank you.”

I have avoided this post for awhile, it is long but hang in there I promise it is important. I would like to share with…

Posted by Sierra Greenlee on Monday, September 17, 2018

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