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Saturday, January 29, 2011

She Counts

Wendy Rose

We've been here before.

Too many times.

It's devastating.

We're speechless.

We don't know how to process the fear.

The grief.

The overwhelming truth that seems to sneak in and remind us time and time again of how incredibly fine the line is between life and death.  Suddenly we're consumed with the daunting reality that life is short.

Too short for too many innocent young lives.

The sea of candles consumes my Facebook page.

Only this time the sadness comes as a tsunami instead of one forceful wave that knocks us off balance.  This time we stare at our computer screens...unsure of what to feel...struggling to find words that haven't already been spoken.

This time we learned about a 24 year old girl...a 16 year old boy...a 27 year old mother of two...and an 18 month old baby who was misdiagnosed .... all gone .... taken from their families, and our community, just in the past few days.  Lives claimed too soon because of Type 1 Diabetes.

Broken families.  Broken hearts.  Broken HOPE.

But there is one death that has resonated with me and I can't get her off my mind.

I wanted to talk about her last week.  But I didn't.  I didn't mention her here, because, when I posted about her loss on Facebook, I received a few messages from mothers who were somewhat discouraged.  Disheartened that I shared the news of her death. They were troubled because the circumstances surrounding this loss are so hard to profound.

Her name was Lalita.  She lived in France.  She was 9 years old.  By all accounts she was a "normal" child, involved in school and neighborhood activities.  She committed suicide by jumping from a 5th floor window after scribbling a note saying that she was 'fed up with her illness and wanted to end her life'.

Nine years old.

Did she fully understand the magnitude of death?  The permanence?

I don't know.  But I do know that she was a little girl facing a grown-up sized disease and she made a grown-up sized decision to throw diabetes -- and herself -- out a window because she was frustrated and overwhelmed.

Yet...there were no candles when the news of her death broke.  It wasn't reposted much. No one really talked about it.

We just moved on.

Then the overwhelming sadness of today's news began trickling in.  One after another.  My heart, my mind, that restless place inside my soul stirred again with thoughts of this little girl. Her broken family.  Her friends.  Her teachers.  Her mother....a mother who, like myself, is raising a daughter with Type1 Diabetes.

How abysmal the grief must be.  The loneliness that must exist.  The emptiness.  The shock.

Here are some of the symptoms of depression from the National Institute of Mental Health:

People with depressive illnesses do not all experience the same symptoms. The severity, frequency and duration of symptoms will vary depending on the individual and his or her particular illness.
Symptoms include:
  • Persistent sad, anxious or "empty" feelings
  • Feelings of hopelessness and/or pessimism
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness and/or helplessness
  • Irritability, restlessness
  • Loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable, including sex
  • Fatigue and decreased energy
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering details and making decisions
  • Insomnia, early–morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping
  • Overeating, or appetite loss
  • Thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts
  • Persistent aches or pains, headaches, cramps or digestive problems that do not ease even with treatment

Friends, the daily grind of managing this beast is all consuming.  Depression is a complication that isn't discussed very often, but that doesn't mean it ceases to exist.  Whether you are a person with diabetes or a caregiver, please take the warning signs of depression seriously and seek help if you notice them.

Allow our hearts to preserve Lalita's memory as a reminder that children can be affected by depression.  As parents, we have social media outlets...blogs, FB, Twitter...we have online chat rooms, support forums from every angle, and connections with each other.  As children, they may feel alone, burdened, and overwhelmed by the massive effort it takes to manage their diabetes.  They may experience feelings of guilt when they see their tired parents or overhear a frustrated conversation among adults in reference to a Type 1 Diabetes diagnosis.  They may experience fear, anger, and isolation.

Their emotional well being is as equally important as their physical health.  Listen to them. Hold them.  Reassure them that you will do everything you can to protect them.  Remind them that they are not at fault.  Allow them to express themselves without fear of being judged or disappointing their parents.  Honor their desires for privacy, celebrate victories, and cherish every moment of their innocence.

Grown-up life will be here soon enough.

Last week, we lost a child to this complication of diabetes.

She counts.

Every child counts.  Every adult counts.  Every person affected by this disease counts. Amidst this sadness, please remember that we are a strong community.  We build each other up and hold each other together.  We invoke change, pave the way for future generations, and lay the groundwork for better treatment options that are linking to a cure.

We are connected.

We are a family.

We will mourn our losses, 
and then we will find a renewed determination to keep HOPE alive.

From My Candy Heart to Yours,
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  1. I did not know of the 9 year old until this morning. I think that one bothers me the most...the overwhelmingness of the neverendingness that weighed on this child. Thank you Wendy for this post.

  2. This is definitely one thing I watch for in my daughter.....Not only does she have the diabetes as a strike against her; she is a teen; she has been through my two divorces with me--the loss of two dads; and currently the second ex & his wife are trying to make life h**l, and seem to be aiming it mostly at HER....

  3. Thank you Wendy. She does count. All of us in this community are one. Thank you for a great post my dear friend.

  4. The loss of this little girl in this way is tragic,we all fight everyday side by side with our children against this disease that wants to take them from us I pray we all fight the good fight and that another child never feels that hopelessness, we need a cure...we need it now!!My 15yr old son said it best yesterday in conversation with a friend on the way home he said he had to many problems to be normal..he isn't normal he is amazing to go through what he does with celiacs and diabetes and still be a honor student..he is the reason I fight the good fight!!!

  5. Wendy, thanks for posting this. This hits SO close to home with me after attempting suicide myself as a teenager because of diabetes. My heart is so torn. There needs to be a cure, and until then there NEEDS to be mental wellness checks along with endo appointments. Depression is too closely linked for it to be ignored.

  6. She does count and I remember you posting about her last week, in fact I saved the column so I could go back and read it later when I had time to translate it. Sadly I didn't go back and must have forgotten about it until this morning. I'm sad that I forgot to go back and read it and that this girl didn't seem to count, but also part of me is glad I didn't read it, I would have been frightened and disheartened as many others are I'm sure. It's a fine line, I don't want to hear about these deaths, it scares the crap out of me and I have no where to put it. But, if I didn't hear about these I wouldn't be so scared and therefore maybe wouldn't be so diligent. I'm tired and scared all the time and I'm tired of feeling tired and scared. I'm not saying I'm depressed or that my Korky is, but it's something I fear for the future, for her, for me and probably for the rest of the family as well. DIABETES SUCKS! But it's the hand we were dealt, so I'll try to make the best of it. Thanks for posting, well written, my heart and prayers go out to these families.

  7. This is so heartbreaking. All of it. Every single one of these stories hurts my heart so much. The story about the 9 year is terrifying. It makes me think of how Bee gets when she has had enough. The crying, the sadness, her saying she hates this and just doesn't want to do it anymore. It scares me. Really scares me.

    My heart goes out to all of these families.

  8. Wendy, Thank you for sharing this with us. One thing I'm learning along this relatively new diabetes/celiac journey in our family, is how very important it is to educate and share experiences through each other. I pray that Lalita is with our loving Lord and that God will blanket her family with His comfort. We definitely cannot always make sense of why things sometimes happen, but we can be sure that God is always there for us, we just need to ask Him to be a part of our lives.

  9. Well written my friend. I heard some rumors about another child who gave up on life, but I was not sure of the situation, or who to go thru to confirm.
    These losses are all very sad. The reality is in all of our faces, and the important things we need to remember is to never get to comfortable with diabetes. Everytime we feel things are going well, something happens...and it usually is to one extreme or the other.
    What I have learned thru all of this is: Love your babies and cherish each day you have with them.
    Don't let diabetes consume us to the point we are not aware of what or how our children who are suffering this disease feel.
    My child is going to look at this disease however I look at it...
    Be strong, stay positive, and advocate, raise awareness and money & push push push for a cure!
    Thank you for your blog.

  10. I didn't know about her until this morning. Like you, this one bothers me the most.

  11. Lets add another family to our prayers. Anjelica Elizabeth Marie Garza Chandler, affectionately known as Jeli, unexpectedly passed away while napping on Jan. 17, 2011, in Herriman, Utah, due to complications of Type 1 Diabetes.
    Anjelica was born June 28, 1994.

  12. She absolutely counts! Depression from diabetes is what took my husband's best friend, years ago. Thanks for sharing this Wendy!

  13. Wendy, you always have a way of taking my head and my heart to a new place. Thank you for your insightful post. She does count! Thank you for reminding us. I am praying for all of these families.

  14. The things I miss while I'm away.
    I know all to well the mental toll this disease can have. I only hope that Justin does not carry the same magnatude of burden that I do. I pray that I have done enough to make him stronger than I. I can't bare to loose him to this fight.

  15. She absolutely counts.

    I didnt know about her until yesterday. But, like you, I think this story... in all its tragedy.... perhaps bothers me the most.

    Thank you for writing about her Wendy. Thank you for honoring her.

  16. Thank you for bringing this to our attention. My heart is breaking for her and for all of those that have lost their lives to T1d.

    You are right...she counts, everyone counts. Thanks for the beautiful post and for sharing Lalita's story.

  17. tears are just rolling down reading your words... did not realise the news travelled so far away ? Can I use your words and translate them in French ... hoping that the family will hear them to know that "SHE COUNTS" (Thanks Margie as well for the post...)

  18. Nathalie,
    Yes, yes, yes....PLEASE....this disease speaks a universal language. Lalita's loved ones are being lifted in prayer from one side of the world to the other. Lalita's memory will forever be etched into our hearts. Thank you.

  19. You're darn right she counts. This disease steals from us in many ways... and her life was no less lost to diabetes than any other.

    Depression is a SERIOUS part of this life. For those who have D and those who manage D. There are times I can feel myself sliding into that pit. If it were not for all of you... Well, I'd probably be IN the pit most of the time.

    Heartbreaking. Thank you, Wendy, for sharing this.

  20. Thank you for bringing this to our attention. My heart is breaking for her and for all of those that have lost their lives to T1d.Carlmont Pharmacy Online Depression from diabetes is what took my husband's best friend, years ago. Thanks for sharing this Wendy!


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While I'm happy to share our experiences with what works, and what doesn't work, for the management of Type 1 Diabetes and Celiac Disease in our house, please do not mistake anything you read here for medical advice. Decisions regarding your/your child's health care should be made only with the assistance of your medical care team. Use any information from this blog at your own risk.