I went to Target today with my toddler. The last time we went to Target was 22 days ago — February 16. On that day, my goal had been to buy strips to test Hazel’s urine for ketones. She had recently developed a sudden and extreme increase in thirst and peeing. Her pediatrician refused to consider that this could be a sign of anything serious and even refused to see her. As a step before going to urgent care, I wanted to buy some ketone strips. If she didn’t have ketones in her urine, then I could stop worrying about diabetes.
So we went to Target. We stopped by the One Spot and I got a few little things for her and her sisters’ Easter baskets. I bought aluminum foil and snack bags. All the while Hazel sat subdued in the cart.
My mind fought itself, “Surely she doesn’t have diabetes. It’s so rare for kids her age. That kind of thing doesn’t happen to us. I’m just being crazy and imagining the worst case scenario. Maybe I need a therapist. But what if she does? That would explain all the saturated diapers. No, it can’t really be that.” And on. And on.
Target didn’t have the strips I wanted. As we were leaving, I was trying to decide if I should stop at a pharmacy on the way home or just trust her pediatrician that all was fine. I was carrying her as I walked to the car and I happened to smell her breath. It was acidic and fruity smelling. Right then I knew that I wasn’t crazy. That moment in between the store and the parking lot is frozen in my mind: the sinking feeling of not knowing what to expect next, the dying hope that maybe it was nothing — that lots of pee just meant she had healthy kidneys like her pediatrician said, the fear of my child being seriously ill.
I didn’t really need to go to Target today, but it’s by our bank and I needed to go there. I didn’t want to go to Target. I didn’t want to relive that moment or to think about how sick my child had been the last time I was there. But I went anyway.
Little Hazel laughed and ran through the aisles (until I contained her in a cart), and I smiled. Seeing her so well after she had been so sick was life-giving. I’m sure other shoppers were critical of my parenting as I let her run and play through the store. She was inquisitive and funny, demanding and loving, dancing and giggling.
We made it through the official diagnosis, the hospitalization, the hours of education. We are 22 days in to learning how to treat this beast. We are still deep in the grieving process and there are still hundreds of unknowns, but Hazel is thriving. And that makes this all a bit easier.