Sierra Greenlee is a mum who’s suffered the unthinkable. She has recently taken to social media to talk about the death of her beloved little girl. She does this not for sympathy, but to make all parents aware of what caused her two-year-old daughter’s death. It’s a disease we’ve heard about, but perhaps don’t take enough notice of: Type 1 diabetes. Sierra, in her heartbreaking post, talks about the symptoms of Type 1 Diabetes in children we should all sit up and take notice of.
The Heartbreaking Story
It all happened on March 22, 2018, a day just like any other day. Sierra had finished work and was fetching her daughter, Ayra, from her babysitters. She was looking forward to spending time with her baby girl.
When she arrived, the babysitter brought Ayra to Sierra’s car. But the little girl looked “knocked out”.
It was only when Sierra felt Ayra’s chest that she realised how serious things were. Ayra was not breathing. The young mum panicked and hurried her daughter back to the babysitter’s.
Arya was just like any normal three-year-old toddler. | Image source: Facebook
Resuscitating Her Daughter
Once she was back indoors, Sierra placed her daughter lying down and immediately began giving her CPR. She recalls her harrowing experience:
“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.
Finally after what seemed like an hour which in actuality was probably only 15 minutes Emergency Medical Services 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.”
Emergency Medical Services spent the hour pushing little Arya’s chest, giving her rescue breaths, but to no avail. They rushed her to hospital.
On the way to the hospital, negative thoughts flooded the young mum. She recounted her last conversation with Arya, who pleaded her to not leave for work – and how she went regardless. She was worried about the future, which seemed uncertain, saying that:
“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.”
The thoughts eventually spiralled into utter desperation, as Sierra “prayed to God that if only he would spare my baby I would do whatever he wanted.”
Once they arrived at the hospital, medical staff led Sierra to room separate to the waiting lounge.
After waiting for an anxious 10 minutes, a doctor entered the room, and sat beside her. The worst had happened as he imparted the bad news that, according to Sierra, “would forever change my world”. The doctor said:
“We did everything we could but unfortunately we were unable to revive her and she did not survive.”
It was crushing news. Little Arya was Sierra’s “absolute pride and joy”. Her presence alone defined her being at the time.
Sierra describes the moment it all happened, saying that:
“…I couldn’t feel anything it was like my heart had stopped too. I was an empty shell. The shock was overwhelming.
“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.”
Sierra’s original Facebook post has been widely shared, garnering 114,000 shares. She only recently outlined the gut-wrenching ordeal she had to face on Monday, September 17, which you can read more below:
What Is Type 1 Diabetes?
Diabetes Mellitus is a disease which happens when the insulin isn’t produced. Insulin is a hormone that cells in the pancreas make. It’s important to have insulin because it helps sugar, or glucose, flowing in the blood go into other cells so it can be burned up for energy.
In the case of diabetes, there isn’t enough insulin in the blood, which leads to high blood sugar levels. There are two types of Diabetes, but Type 1 Diabetes happens when the immune system goes haywire, destroying the cells in the pancreas which make insulin. In some cases, very rare forms can also occur without a clear cause.
Type 1 Diabetes can affect everyone, but mostly happens to children and young adults. Exactly why Type 1 Diabetes happens hasn’t been uncovered yet. It’s probably because of genetic influences and environmental triggers like viruses. Do note that an unhealthy lifestyle and diet aren’t responsible for Type 1 Diabetes.
Left untreated, Type 1 Diabetes can cause many complications. For instance, there could be damage to the retina, or the kidneys. Even falling into a coma is possible – from too much or too little sugar in the blood.
In Arya’s case, the doctors managed to detect that she had Type 1 Diabetes after she passed away. Her blood sugar level had spiked through the charts. While normal people have blood sugar levels lower than 100, Arya’s was about 500 – five times the normal amount. 300-400 already brings the person to a coma. Thus, it’s very likely Arya went into a sudden coma, but was too weak to fight back.
Symptoms of Type 1 Diabetes in Children
Unfortunately, diabetes isn’t something that’s normally tested for during checkups for young children. Medical professionals only check for it once children enter primary school and display the symptoms – unless there’s a possibility of genetic inheritance. What this means is that routine check-ups might not be able to diagnose Type 1 Diabetes, and it can creep on unexpectedly, like in Arya’s case.
Parents, the red flags that could point to a child having Type 1 Diabetes are its symptoms. Children who show the following may have Type 1 Diabetes:
- Constant thirst or hunger
- Using the restroom frequently to urinate, even in the middle of the night
- Weight loss even after large meals
- Being exhausted faster than others
- Stomach pain
- Parched mouth
- Blurry eyesight
- Wetting the bed often
Young children can also show these behaviours even if they’re healthy, and so the disease is usually overlooked. To be safe, you can ask for a blood glucose test when you visit medical institutions for a check up or do it yourself with a blood glucose meter.
To conclude, Type 1 Diabetes can be devastating to any family. Do check your doctor if you suspect anything, and in Sierra’s words:
“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… because no parent should ever have to hear the words “I’m sorry but unfortunately she did not survive.”
References: Facebook, Khoo Teck Phuat, CDC, Children’s Hospital.org, Diabetes.org
Originally published by The Asian Parent Singapore