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The Virus

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Maybe it's the time of year.

Maybe it's the weather.  The past week has shown that the groundhog wasn't lying and that spring just might be around the corner.

Maybe it's because we're coming up on 2 years with D.

Maybe it's because Sweets has been sick with a fever this weekend.

Or maybe it's just because it's always there....  floating around in the back of my mind, coming to the front for random appearances from time to time.

Two years ago.

Two years ago in February it was warm - much like it has been this week.  A little warm spell after months of cold.

It was a Sunday.

It was warm enough that Sweetpea was able to ride her trike around the driveway a few times.  It was nice to be out in the pre-spring air.

I needed beans for school.  I had been looking for green bean seeds for my kids to plant for our Jack and the Beanstalk - Fairy Tale unit.  I needed to run down the street to the hardware store.

Sweets decided that she wanted to go with me.  J was going to stay home and vacuum.  (Isn't he great?)  We jumped in the car and headed out. 

Everything was fine.

We got to the store and we headed across the parking lot.  We went inside and looked around for the seeds.  Sweetpea wanted to be picked up.  Then she said she had to go to the bathroom.  Then she started crying.  She insisted on being carried.  We ditched the bean run and headed home.

I got her into her car seat.  She was shivering and shaking.  She cried the entire way home.

I got her inside and laid her down in my lap on the couch.  She was burning up.  She was shaking.  Her temp was 103. 

It came out of nowhere.

I made the first of many after hour calls to the pediatrician.  I was scared.  Something was not right.

The next day we went to the doctor.  She still had a high fever.  She was lethargic.  But she had no other symptoms of anything.

They were concerned and sent us to the hospital for chest x-rays and blood tests.

She did fine for the x-rays.  But the fingerprick - oh my!  She cried.  She fussed.  She squirmed.  I had to hold her down.

We got home.  It was almost lunch.  I started making Sweetpea something to eat and the phone rang.  It was the doctor's office.  They had already received the blood test results.

Her white count was through the roof. 

I can't remember what it was.  Just that it was like 3 or 4 times what it should have been. 

They sent us back to the hospital for an arm draw.  Then we were to head straight back to the doctor office.  We were to knock on the window if it was closed for lunch.  They wanted to see us right away.

I started to get more scared.

The arm draw was awful.  We really had to hold her down for that.  Then we went back to the pediatrician.  They were concerned it was a blood infection.  They wanted to grow the blood for a few days.  But to be safe, Sweetpea needed a shot of some kind of medicine.  The shot had to be separated into two - two shots given simultaneously into her things.  They said it would hurt.  It was bad.  She screamed.  It took lots of us to hold her down.  Then she was in pain.  Her legs were so sore.  She would barely walk on them.

I went home - exhausted.  I remember saying that I had seen enough finger pricks and shots and held my child down more than enough for one day.  Little did I know...

We were really scared about that white count.  J's brother had been diagnosed with leukemia the previous spring.  We asked them to have a specialist look at her blood. 

It was fine.  No leukemia.  Nothing grew.  They said it was a virus.

She was a sick little girl for quite a few days.  But had no symptoms other than a fever and being lethargic. 

As mysteriously as it began, the illness went away.

But now... two years later...

I can't help but wonder.

What if...

What if that was the day this journey began?

What if that was the day her body started attacking itself?

What if that high white count was due to the autoimmune response?

What if I had known what was happening?

Not that it matters.

Not that I could have stopped it - even if I knew.

I definitely thought about it at diagnosis... but I was so overwhelmed back then.  It wasn't until later that it started hanging around the edges of my mind... bothering me.

I know it's crazy.  Even if that IS when it all started - what does it matter now?

Maybe it's because it's just symbolic.

One minute she was fine.  Literally.  She was fine.  She was riding her bike.

And the next.... 

She wasn't fine.

Life can turn on a dime.  One minute everything is perfect in your corner of the world.

And the next...  Your world is turned upside down.

The world as you knew it is gone.  And you are left to pick up the pieces and create something new.

The trick is to create something even more beautiful... even more wonderful... even more meaningful than what was there before.

Regardless of the exact moment when everything changed.



  1. I think everyone can relate to this! Things can change SO quickly, and it can be scary to think about. I always go back to the day I think must have been the day my body decided to attack itself. For me, I got mono my freshman year of college and went from being sick maybe once a year to being sick ALL the time. I remember getting feverish (maybe it was the flu?) about a month or two before I was diagnosed with type 1. There's nothing I/we can do to stop things like that from happening, but it's hard to not go back and think what if...when I start doing that too much, I try to think of what/who I am grateful for and try reaaally hard to think of silver linings. I like what you said about creating something more meaningful out of it...very true! :)

  2. I posted about this too, when I first started my blog. I kept thinking back, "what was the trigger?" For Adam, my guess is that it was in April...we showed up at his 4 year well check and to my surprise, he had scarlet fever - a raging case of strep with a rash on his belly. No fever, so he got his 4 vaccinations. To this day, I regret that. I feel like that day is when his body started attacking itself. Which led us to his diagnosis in August.

  3. Lily had hand, foot, mouth disease exactly two weeks prior to diagnosis and that particular disease has been studied for a link between type 1 and viruses. I think about that a lot. Like you, I believe there is nothing I could have done. If she hadn't started attacking herself after this virus, it may have been the next...and so on. Great post.

  4. I always wonder about this. My little girl had the flu a couple of months before her diagnosis. I always think, "Why didn't I get the flu shot for her?" But maybe she would have just gotten after the shot. I'll never know, but man does it make me crazy sometimes. Yes, your world can be turned upside down in a flash. That's the one thing I do know.

  5. I can totally relate...I think about what I think the trigger was for Charlotte's D all the time. For the few months before her diagnosis she was constantly having bouts of diarrhea and gastroenteritis/enterovirus. I thought at the time how miserable it was and she was feeling....little did I know what was in store for us just a few months down the road :(
    But like you, I stop myself and think there is nothing I could have done differently. And take what has been handed to us and try to make the best out of it and do something positive with it! I used to get so frustrated when my mother would tell me that "everything happens for a reason", but as I've gotten older I do think she's right...although there are times when I can't help but wonder "Why?"

  6. I've never been able to pinpoint a virus or illness that preceded Grace's dx. Could she have had the sniffles at some point? Probably, but with three children if you're not sick enough to stay home from school I tend to forget about it. But I often look at pictures wondering when exactly her body began to attack itself. She was dx at the end of January, so looking at Christmas pictures is hard. But what about Thanksgiving? Halloween? How far back do I need to go? I'll always wonder.

  7. I don't remember any specific illness I could point to as a trigger for Max. However, we had a whole weekend of "does he or doesn't he" when we were using my father-in-law's meter to do some blood tests. After a couple of normal range ones in a row, I remember saying, thank God, because I could never give him a shot. Then two days later and every day after that for the next 5 1/2 years, I gave him multiple shots. Life is funny.

  8. "The trick is to create something even more beautiful... even more wonderful... even more meaningful than what was there before."

    My favorite line EVER! Love you Hallie!

  9. I had a serious stomach virus bout three years before my diabetes was diagnosed. I was in 4th grade at the time and there's a photo of me looking pale and thin at the science fair that year. I was fine after about two weeks, but I always wonder too if that was the start of it. I've read you retain nearly normal BG control even as the pancreas loses up to 70-80% of its beta cells. It's the last crash that brings on the DKA.

    Hope the Delica is easing some of her pain!

  10. SO funny you post about this. Joshua had a few "unexplained" fevers right before dx and they said oh it must be teeth. Of course we know now it was not teeth but the start of this horriable fight. Every time Jackson gets a fever I have this little loud fear that he is next that this is it.. I dont admit it to anyone else but it is there in the back of my head... always!


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