Pearls of Wisdom from Ada Pearl’s Diabetes Story

During a recent family dinner conversation, I suggested to my oldest daughter Iley she should start journaling. These are historic times, and she’s the perfect quiet observer type to keep a record of how crazy life’s been the past few months. We started discussing our most important memories and my little Ada chimed in with, “I have memories from when I was becoming diabetic.” Her hospital stay was TRAUMATIC, to say the least, so I was very interested in the memories she would share.

The weekend Ada was diagnosed with diabetes started with an ER visit due to a mass in her leg. That was followed by a poor attempt at an IV. Bless the nurse’s heart, he was trying his best and did eventually get it, but it was BAD—a moment we will ALL remember forever. The IV situation was followed by what seemed like endless X-rays, scans, and tests for our little Ada. Finally, we were told something unexpected: “Her blood glucose is 602.”

Since my husband Mike is diabetic, we instantly knew what this meant. We took turns fighting tears, crying in the hallway, and informing family members of the news. But this wasn’t the end, oh no…then came the 4-hour ambulance ride and the 3-day hospital stay where we got a crash course in all things juvenile diabetes. And all the while we were away from Iley, Ada’s number 1, most favorite person in the world.

So when she mentioned her memories of that weekend, I braced myself for tears. But instead of anything I just mentioned, she cheerfully said, “I got to eat pizza, I watched Moana in Spanish because Daddy couldn’t figure out the tv, I painted pictures, I had a doll to give shots to, I went outside, I got to ride around in a wagon, my friend Lydia visited me and brought me LOLs.”

Other than her friend visiting, I had forgotten all of those little moments. My own memories of the situation were clearly very different, and it made me stop and think. This little one of mine is so wise. Ada’s story reminded me of these 5 truths that will help you create beautiful memories during difficult times:

  1. Kids are amazing and resilient. While you may be worried or upset about the current situation, there’s still an opportunity to create joy at home. Your babies will remember it forever.
  2. Perspective is KEY. Ada could have chosen to remember the “straw” that got jammed into her arm, but because she felt safe and loved, instead she chooses to remember the good things from her hospital stay. Of course, she does remember that “straw,” but it’s not the first memory that comes to mind.
  3. There is always something to be thankful for. ALWAYS. Sometimes it’s something big, like a baby you prayed years for, and sometimes it’s hospital pizza.
  4. We all adapt to change. Ada’s entire life changed in an instant. She keeps going. Every day she learns more and more about how she can keep herself safe and healthy. She doesn’t know her numbers but she knows what is high blood sugar and low blood sugar. She doesn’t know how to read but she knows how to find the carbohydrate part of the nutrition label. Change is hard. But if we continue to educate ourselves, expand our patience and stay kind, change becomes easier.
  5. God is in control.

I can’t tell Ada’s story without mentioning God. 1,192 is the number of days we prayed for Ada Pearl. And the timing of her conception couldn’t have been more perfect. Adding her to our family lead to many decisions that, at the time, we didn’t know would change us in the most powerful, positive ways. I prayed and prayed to have a little girl who was just like my husband and that’s exactly what I got, diabetes and all.

Mike letting Ada test his blood sugar.

We knew all of the symptoms of type 1 diabetes. We know what to look for. And we still completely missed it. Ada had wet the bed once or twice, but she was also drinking late at night and she was also only 4. She had an odd puking incident, but she had eaten a funnel cake and was running around at a festival. What ended up getting us to the doctor was a mass in her leg. We were told it was “nothing to worry about,” but we just couldn’t shake the feeling that it was something more. I see now this was all in God’s hands.

Our ultrasound appointment got changed at the last minute, making our ultrasound tech a friend of ours. She was also concerned about the mass. After a few calls to dear physician friends and several to our insurance company, we decided we would take Ada to a children’s hospital ER to get answers about this “nothing to worry about” mass. Within an hour of being there, we found out Ada had diabetes.

The doctor was shocked by this diagnosis given the symptoms: typically when a child is diagnosed with diabetes they are SICK. Ada never got to that point because we got in there FAST due to the mass. One week after her diagnosis, it disappeared. There is still no medical explanation that connects the mass to diabetes. No explanation for why it was there to begin with. We needed to seek medical attention for Ada and we needed something that would make us NOT STOP looking for answers—the mass was just that. It’s clear to me that once again this was God’s work.

When you feel helpless, when you don’t know what you’re doing: listen to your gut. Trust your instincts and know that you can handle the situation at hand. You are exactly where you are at this exact moment because you CAN do it. Ada saw us go through a whole range of emotions that weekend. She saw us show strength and determination, and she saw us feel scared and uncertain. But what she saw most was the deep love and support of her family and friends, and that’s why she left the hospital with happy memories of pizza and playing instead of bad ones.

In times like these, we’re all doing our best to be the light for our families. To be patient. Be calm. Be safe. Be happy. Be open. And your best is enough! You have everything you need to create beautiful memories. I hope you’ll share some of your favorite memories with me here in the comments or Instagram with hashtag #thepearlpages.



One thought on “Pearls of Wisdom from Ada Pearl’s Diabetes Story

  1. This is beautiful Katie. Of course you know you had me in tears . Special family and very special little girl. ❤️


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