Special Needs Sunday: Juvenile Diabetes Scare

18 Jan
Photo by Uwe Hermann

Symptoms to never overlook in your child when they occur together:

  • Excessive thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Sudden onset of bed wetting
  • Vomiting

Those little cubes in the photo above?  Not so harmless to a kiddo who can’t process sugars correctly.

This week we had a little “scare” with Jenna.  The little girl that we usually have to prompt to drink and that usually drinks MAYBE 3 oz. a day, suddenly began drinking 8-16 oz in a sitting, and ASKING to drink more.  She also started peeing MUCH more frequently, but I just figured it was due to the extra fluid intake.  Then, she started peeing the bed every time at waking, and we have NEVER had a bed wetting incident since she potty trained.  Finally, two days in a row we had incidents of projectile vomiting that were very uncharacteristic for her.  Yes, we’ve seen our share of vomit around this house, but we usually know her “signs” and when she’s prone to puke.  These episodes didn’t follow her typical M.O.  We also haven’t had problems with vomiting for quite some time.

When all these symptoms came together, a little alarm went off in my head.  I remembered some info from my pre-med classes as well as a post from Leighann at Soy Is The New Black that talked about these being typical first symptoms in kids with diabetes.  I went into full worry-mode.  I kept trying to tell myself that I was probably just over-reacting and being paranoid.  That nagging feeling wouldn’t go away though, and I decided to contact Leighann.  She was a true gem and encouraged me to contact my doctor right away, to trust my intuition, not to freak out, and not to feel guilty for pressing my concern.

Our doctor’s office was already closed at this point, but I phoned the nurse on call.  SHE freaked out a little (which wasn’t very encouraging, but did make me feel like my concerns were validated) and put my call through to the doctor.  The doctor was also concerned and said that he wanted to see her the next day for an exam and urinalysis.  He said it was most likely that she had a bladder infection, but we needed to rule out high blood sugar (diabetes).

It ended up that the “dip” test at the doctor’s office was negative for sugars and the culture for a bladder infection came back negative as well.  The doctor’s best guess is that she had some bladder irritation (maybe the beginning of an infection) that she was able to flush out of her system by instinctively drinking more.  She seems to be doing much better and we haven’t had any more vomiting, but he said if the smptoms continued into next week, we should do bloodwork.  Thankfully, I don’t think we’ll need to do this.

Here’s what you need to know:  excessive thirst is often the FIRST symptom that parents notice in their diabetic kids.  Frequent urination often goes along with that or follows close behind.  These symptoms can indicate that the body is trying to flush out all the extra sugar that it’s unable to process.  Wetting the bed could signal high blood glucose during the night, and vomiting can be part of diabetic ketoacidosis, which is VERY serious.  When all the symptoms appear together, it’s nothing to mess with.  Don’t worry that you might be over-reacting  – trust your intuition.  Leighann’s daughter’s story shows how scary it can be if it IS diabetes and it progresses too far.  Early detection is critical.  We are so thankful that everything came back “normal” for Jenna, but for many, many families, diabetes is a very real and serious condition.  You can learn more or contribute to research for a cure at:

The American Diabetes Association

The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation

Thanks, Leighann, for your prompt response, your genuine concern, and your calm and validating support.


Posted by on January 18, 2009 in Health, Jenna, Special Needs


5 responses to “Special Needs Sunday: Juvenile Diabetes Scare

  1. Marinka

    January 18, 2009 at 10:30 am

    How frightening. You’re absolutely right, of course, as parents we need to trust our intuition and advocate for our children. I think too many times we’re worried that we appear “hysterical” to the medical profession. I’m so glad that Jenna’s sugar test came back negative.

  2. iMommy

    January 18, 2009 at 10:42 am

    Glad to hear Jenna is OK! That little sweetheart doesn’t need another challenge.

    Great post – and good for you for calling the doc. Definitely the right thing to do.

  3. Leighann

    January 18, 2009 at 11:57 am

    I am so happy that it wasn’t a diagnosis of diabetes.

    I always tell myself that “it could be worse.” And it could. But a diabetes diagnosis in a young child carries with it a lifetime of management, worry, and potential complications (the burden of which falls to the parent until the child is old enough to self-manage, and even then I don’t know if a parent stops worrying).

    I’m glad that you thought I was calm and reassuring because I was afraid that I was over-reacting or making you freak out. But with diabetes, early diagnosis and noticing the symptoms is key. And your daughter did have the signs.

    I am so thankful for her and for you that it is nothing to worry about. I was sad that night waiting to hear and hoping for the best. I am glad that I was able to be there for another parent to give support and information.

    If anyone has concerns, please get in contact with me. Always act on your mother’s intuition (moms really know their own child better than anyone else). And don’t be afraid to push it when it comes to dealing with nurses and doctors when you think there is something “just not right” with your child.

  4. Heather

    January 18, 2009 at 12:21 pm

    Thank goodness Jenna is fine. It is such a horrible feeling when your kids are unwell – I actually just did a post on our Dr’s visit this week. It is one of those things that you feel so helpless.

    Thanks for providing the online community with this valuable information regarding diabetes.

  5. Maura

    January 18, 2009 at 1:48 pm

    Good info for parents to have. I’m glad that things turned out OK.


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