One of our first photos of Marissa, taken when she was a couple weeks old. Like all new parents, my wife Brenda and I were happy that our baby girl was healthy. We took on the responsibilities of parenthood like so many first time parents -- with some anxiety, a lot of joy, and way too many photos.
It was hot in the summer of 1989. Very hot. Marissa was drinking a lot of water, which seemed reasonable given the heat. But as it turned out, it wasn't resaonable. She became increasingly sick. She had several infections. Her doctor treated the infections without considering the underlying cause. By her second birthday party, she was very ill. On September 5, 1989, she was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.
The scan to the left is from Marissa's first blood sugar records when she came home from the hospital. The first day is September 8, 1989. Her insulin regimen was a sliding scale of Regular and NPH based on pre-meal blood sugar values. We dutifully recorded everything, often phoning her medical team for advice. By October 1, 1989, she had entered the traditional honeymoon period and no longer needed insulin at night and needed very little in the morning.
Our medical team highly recommended diabetes camp for Marissa, so off she went at age four-and-a-half. Brenda accompanied her, spending a week with other moms and dads while Marissa was on her own with other kids with diabetes. Here's Marissa waving good bye, heading off on what would become her first adventure related to diabetes. She would come to have many, many more such adventures.
This photo always has an emotional impact on me. Here's Marissa at diabetes camp -- her first camping experience -- receiving an award in front of everyone for giving herself her first self-injection. There's something incredibly poignant about celebrating a four-and-a-half year old gathering the courage, well beyond her years, to stick a needle in her leg to keep herself alive. Only parents of kids with diabetes will understand what this means.
17 mg/dl. This is what it looks like afterwards. Twice, when very young, Marissa had really bad lows. Both were 17 mg/dl as measured by an AccuChek II meter, which took 120 seconds to produce a result. Never in human history has 120 seconds taken so long than during those two measurements. While Marissa recovered with her great grandmother here, her parents took much, much longer to get over the experience.
In 1995, I launched Children with Diabetes to help Marissa meet other kids with diabetes. The rest, as they say, is history. One thing I learned from a group of parents was the benefits of pump therapy. In the fall of 1998, at age 11, Marissa agreed to try an insulin pump. She was a bit reluctant at first, but after sleeping late a couple of Saturdays, she was convinced. She's been pumping ever since.
CWD's Friends for Life conferences are amazing events that are impossible to describe completely if you've never attended. We've become friends with so many amazing people from around the world. Here, Marissa is with Adriana and Ricardo Escobar from Cali, Colombia -- true friends for life. She's visited them twice, and their son Lucas has visited us, too. The bond we share as parents with the Escobars transcends everything, as do the bonds our kids share. That is the real magic of CWD's Friends for Life conferences.
High school graduation and off to college to study nursing -- and a great graduation photo. Yet tucked in her pants, just barely visible, is a reminder that her life is just a bit different. That's an insulin pump, with a cool zebra skin. Marissa, like all our kids, owes much of her healthy life to the technological advancements that she has seen in her 20 years of living with diabetes.
Marissa and Adam. Marco Island, January 2009. A spectacular sunset on the last evening of CWD's annual Marco Island conference. A fitting start to 2009, the year Marissa graduated from nursing school (June) and would see her twentieth year of living with diabetes -- September 5, 2009. For all the worry and fear and struggle over the years, with CWD, she says it definitely has been a wonderful life. And much more is to come.
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Last Updated: Tuesday December 08, 2009 12:35:54
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