The following is an excerpt from Amazing Grace for Survivors. The story is from Chris Cash here at the Catholic Company.
Survival Day by Day
It's a nightly tradition. After evening prayers are said, dishes washed, and my three daughters and one son have drifted off into a quiet slumber, I walk into three-year-old Catherine's room as she peacefully rests. Like many fathers, I look at my beautiful daughter with a mixture of awe and gratitude, thanking God for such a precious gift. The sight of her chest rising and falling with her breath gives my wife Becky and me the ease to go to sleep ourselves.
Catherine, the youngest of our children, was a homebirth baby. In the first year of her life she seemed remarkably healthy. At fourteen months, Catherine's health unexpectedly and drastically changed. She was irritable and run down so initially we wondered if it was teething or a virus. Catherine began drinking water and urinating constantly. It got to the point that that we had to change her diaper and pajamas at least once during the night. We set up a doctor's appointment. Throughout the day of the appointment, I carried her around the house. She was hardly moving and could barely raise her head off of my shoulder.
I stayed home with the other three children while my wife took her to the doctor's office. Upon arriving in the doctor's office, the nurses took one look at her and immediately moved her to the front of the line. As my wife describing the symptoms, the nurse took one of her used diapers and ran a glucose test on the urine. "You need to take her to the hospital immediately," she told Becky, "We think she has the onset of diabetes."
My wife called me from the doctor's office to tell me what had just transpired. As my wife described what they had told her, tears welled up in my eyes. I had worked in a camp for children with diabetes a few years earlier. I was familiar with the condition and knew what it meant for a fifteen-month-old baby to have it. My mind swirled realizing how this would change everything as I quickly arranged for a neighbor to watch the other kids so I could meet Becky at the hospital.
We walked into the emergency room together with Catherine. Once again, Catherine was moved to the front of the line. After drawing her blood and starting an IV they pointed out that she was having small seizures from her extremely high blood sugar. She spent the next two days in the intensive care unit while Becky and I took turns watching over her twenty-four hours a day. I called everyone I knew asking them to please pray for our little girl. Catherine was put on every prayer chain we could think to contact.
We watched anxiously as her small face began to improve and the little girl we loved so much began to return. On her third day in the hospital, one of the nurses brought in a little red wagon filled with stuffed animals and toys. We loaded her in and wheeled a much healthier looking Catherine into a room in the pediatric wing.
In the four days Catherine spent there, Becky and I became experts on the disease. We learned how to monitor her blood sugar levels. Our daughter would depend dearly on us using our knowledge with precision.
Diabetes is an extremely intense disease to deal with in a small child, because you cannot predict when and how much they are going to eat. It requires constant vigilance of testing blood sugar to make sure it does not get too high or too low. There is no room for error. Too high and she could face long term damage such as kidney failure, amputations, loss of feeling, or loss of eyesight. Too low, and she could pass out, have a seizure or even go into a coma and die.
Medical conditions and dealing with them are part of our family's life now. Since the diagnosis of her condition, all of my other three children have been diagnosed with some sort of autoimmune diseases. As fathers, we all have fears for our children, both for the present and the future. For my daughter Catherine, a very tangible fear is present on a daily basis. If I don't make sure she has eaten her food after an injection, then she could end up sick at the very least or even have a reaction that poses a significant threat to her life.
For her, the world is a very dangerous place. Things we take for granted-like sneaking an extra few cookies or skipping lunch, can seriously harm her. It is humbling to realize how little control we sometimes have over small things that carry great importance. My wife works in the nutritional supplement industry and there are some in her industry who think that taking the right supplements can cure almost anything. With diabetes there is nothing you can do to stop it. It leaves us with only one perspective; God is in control here. In the end, it is the same for all of us. We can do our best in whatever situation we are placed, but in the end, our life is beyond our control so we best rest in the Lord.
So we pray for her condition often and we pray that some day a cure will be found. And in the meantime, we trust that God does not do things without a reason. He gave us our wonderful daughter, and we know that despite her condition she is perfect in his eyes.
- Chris Cash
Chris works for CatholicCompany.com, the most popular Catholic store on the internet. He is also the host of CatholicSpotlight.com, an internet radio show that features hot new books and other products in the Catholic marketplace. He loves sharing inspirational stories.