Wednesday, October 27, 2010

In memory of Eilish..

November is Diabetes Awareness Month. Too many people out there, suffering from this condition. Today, I got an email in my inbox that made all the hairs on my arms stand up straight.. This little girl, only 13 years old, went to bed just fine. Sometime during the night, Eilish - who had type 1 diabetes - passed away. Just like that. Without a reason. The family will likely receive few concrete answers. It's just so sad. This family was so particular about Eilishes diabetes. They took good care of her and they loved her deeply.

What happened with this little girl? In situations of this manner, there is often spoken of "dead in bed syndrome" since the cause of death is not known. The syndrome is responsible for about 6% of diabetes-related deaths in people under the age of 40.

"Dead in bed syndrome" is not necessarily linked to poor blood sugar control. You go to bed without an issue whatsoever and you never wake up again. It is scary and confrontational, but luckily it is also rare. Research has shown that "dead in bed syndrome" may be the result of heart arrhythmia caused by an unnoticed nighttime hypoglycaemia. Some suggest it may be the result of hypo-unawareness. That's when a person with diabetes no longer experiences the warning signs of a low blood glucose. In most cases, our liver stores an amount of 16 sugar lumps. It's an effective method for when we don't notice our hypos during the night, when the liver releases the stored sugar to help us get through the episode. Unfortunately, sometimes things go terribly wrong. That's a possible explanation of what happened with Eilish. But nobody knows for sure, since you cannot determine ones blood glucose after death..

In the first years of my diagnosis, those nighttime lows really freaked me out. At a certain time in that period, I was afraid to go to bed. I would stay up as late as possible and poke my fingers several times during the night, to make sure I was not going to get a low without noticing. I've got over that now.

The story of Eilish is absolutely devastating. Her family must be hurting so badly now. It's such a sad story. It is one of the reasons why we need more funding to find a cure for diabetes. It could happen to any of us, diabetics, and there are no precautions we can take to avoid it.

Type 1 diabetes is a serious condition. It is not some joke. It's not just a little bit of sugar. I hope you're okay now Eilish, wherever you may be now. My love goes out to your sister Ella and to your mommy and daddy, whose hearts must be shredded over your loss. You will be missed terribly. You warmed the hearts of so many people around you. Things could have been different. Things should've been different. Nobody is to blame for your death, Eilish. You did the best you could. So did your family. You were cared for and you mattered big time. You will not be forgotten.. This candle is to burn for you and all the children out there, who are suffering from this condition. I hope no family has to go through this pointless ordeal..

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