Flashback to April of 2017. Omar and I welcomed sweet baby Dalia to the world. Our second child, our second girl. We were over the moon. Never did either of us expect to raise our family in a foreign country, but those are cards we were dealt. After being here all these years later, I honestly cannot think of a more perfect place for our family.
You know how it goes in the beginning, sleepless nights and figuring out life with a new little one. But something was off, but this wasn’t with Baby Bear (yes, she used to growl at me). It was big sis. She was drinking more, she even started to have nighttime accidents. At Dalia’s next well-baby checkup we took both girls and asked all the questions. We were assured (by a doctor licensed from America no less) that we were overreacting. That Nora is jealous and she will go back to normal soon enough. Who were we to question this medical professional? - especially in our sleep deprived state. Or so I thought.
So we go about our lives. But now the difference was noticed by preschool teachers as well. If we can hold on for a few more days, we will make our annual summer trip to America, and have full checkups.
Little did I know we wouldn’t make it that far.
Omar put the girls and me on a plane. Everyone thought I was nuts to travel with a 3 year old and 5 week-old baby. But there was a silver lining, the rainbow at the end of this storm - my family. I can do this, I could get through a mere 24 hours of chaos.
And that’s when it began.
Nora was not well. London to Phoenix, somewhere over Greenland it turned. To be honest I don’t remember many of the details. I remember the incredibly kind people. The lady that held Dalia for 5 hours so I didn’t have to think about her. The flight attendants who did everything they possibly could to come to the best solution. The man sitting next to me who offered me food and help with luggage. And the doctor on the plane who helped us make the final decision to ground the plane.
Our closest destination was Canada. It was still hours away and Nora was getting worse. But all we could do was pray that this spirited fighter’s body could pull through for her. It’s funny. I don’t remember even the name of the first city where we landed. I’ve chosen not to look it up. It’s not important.
But I remember the flight attendant who told me they couldn’t find our car seat so I had to chose to leave Dalia behind and go with Nora, or to let Nora go to the hospital without me. How is that even a choice? (good news, they found it just in time).
I remember landing and calling Omar, 5 hours early. How was I supposed to tell him that Nora was so sick that we grounded a plane, but I have no answers for any of his questions. Next call was to my mom, telling her that we would not be getting off the plane as expected to begin our summer of fun. Two of my least favorite calls ever.
I remember being dressed for summer in Arizona. And the flight attendants giving us every blanket they could find because it was literally freezing outside. One doesn’t pack winter coats when it’s expected to be over 100.
I remember getting to the hospital and us being the only ones there (though I’m not sure we were). I remember the doctor standing next to me and saying Type 1 Diabetes as we both look at Nora laying in her bed, attached to way too many tubes and devices. Of course I ask, “But she will be ok, right?” The doctor had this look, and finally replied, “I hope so.”
Nora’s blood glucose level was over 900 (our current range is no greater than 130), and her A1C was 13.9 (ADA recommends less than 7, non-diabetic is 5.6). She had a 50/50 chance.
All I could think was I gave her too many M&Ms (yes, awareness for Type 1 is severely lacking!). How could I have done this to her? Every nurse and doctor that came in after assured me it was nobody’s fault, that I didn’t cause this. But waiting was the hardest part. We had to wait for the insulin to work. We had to wait to see if her body could fight this fight. They had to do so many tests on my poor baby. She was so dehydrated that blood couldn’t be drawn from her arms, therefore using her toes.
I remember the first time these tests hurt her. She was so angry. All I could do was cry because she was coming back to us.
Once she stabalized we were airlifted to a bigger hospital with a pediatric unit, and a location my dad could fly into. Dalia had her buddy, and we were no longer alone. Nora was out of the weeds, but with a long journey ahead. We couldn’t leave Canada until they were sure I knew how to care for Nora. Under the care of the most amazing nurses, 5 days later we were released and our real journey began…
Those horrific memories do come back, more often than I would like. But what I learned that day, and see everyday in this Type 1 community are these two truths:
Nora has been and always will be a fighter, a warrior. If she can do that, I too, must rise to the challenge to be the best mother of a warrior there ever was.
For all the bad and scary global news, at its core, humanity is good and kind. Those people saved me that day. They held my baby, brought me food and lent me a shoulder to cry on. All strangers. Without hesitation, they met me at my worst day with kindness unlike anything I had experienced before.