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A Sweet Miracle By: Susan Pennock

Above: Marylib Pennock Photography: Brownie Harris Photography

"Most importantly, we know that each child is a gift. We have made a choice to embrace diabetes." It was two a.m. as I pull my semiconscious 10-year-old daughter out of the front seat of the car and carried her into the ER, praying all the way for the Lord to prepare help for her. As I pulled her out of the car she said, “mom did you know I almost died.” That was the last I heard from her for a long time. The emergency room attendant got her back immediately. Within an hour we had a diagnosis. She was in a diabetic ketoacidosis. Her blood levels were so high the ER equipment could not read them. She was rushed to pediatric ICU. It was surreal, like I was in a really bad dream. We were sure it had been a virus. Marylib is the youngest of four. Her siblings are 20, 18, and 11. We had been through the drill so many times. She felt puny for a few days and then she began throwing up Saturday morning around 10 am. That coupled with a low-grade fever ended around 6 p.m. We thought we were at the end of a twelve-hour bug and hoped the whole family did not get sick right before Christmas. I made Marylib sleep in my bed that night in case she got sick again. Thankfully so, because things changed during the night. It was the breathing. 24 l Something Special

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Unlike anything I had heard before. I found out later it is called kussmaul breathing. A sound I will never forget. I awakened her dad and we decided I would take her to the ER while he stayed at home with our other daughter. Hindsight is 20-20. Looking back you can see the signs. She had been drinking a lot of water and over Thanksgiving needed to stop often as we traveled. She had also lost weight but, with a growth spurt that is not unusual. We missed it and it took a visit to the ER for Marylib to be diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. ICU was a roller coaster. She began responding to the insulin and we were thrilled to know what was wrong and that it could be managed. She was so dehydrated and there is a balance of hydration, insulin and saline which is important in order to keep the brain, which is 80% water, from absorbing to much water. This began to happen with Marylib and when the brain began to swell she could not wake up. Medications were given to try to stop the swelling and it became a waiting game. Emotionally we were zapped. A few winks of sleep over the last 30 hours and the shear emotional toll of seeing your precious child in this condition. I don’t know how people without faith get through this. I feel for them. I was receiving emails and texts from people all over…Atlanta, South Carolina, Shallotte, Chicago,

Features and mostly from her friends right here in Wrightsville Beach. At one point we thought we might lose her. The doctor was there. He told me a story of his first surgeon- mentor who had a painting in his office with the hands of a surgeon and the hands of Jesus over them. He told me that he says a prayer each day before coming to work that Jesus’ hands will be with him and his patients. At that moment it was as if God was saying, “It’s OK. My hands are in this and she will be fine." Marylib awakened during the night, as I knew she would, and we went home from the hospital two days later. Our nurse during the most critical moments, told me that I needed to let people help. She could tell it was difficult for us to accept help and she also knew we needed it. But what she told me was that others needed to be able to help. Allowing others to help is a very humbling experience. Financially we are in a

difficult situation and without health insurance. We are also in the middle of moving and it is Christmas. A little bit going on! Our family, close friends, and the Wrightsville Beach community have blessed us beyond belief. Meals, money, gifts, visits, errands, and mostly prayers. A good friend and photographer offered to give our family a photo shoot. At the shoot we met a friend of theirs who asked us to write an article for this magazine. I knew we would do it because it offered us a chance to honor and thank the Lord for Marylib’s life. Another prayer answered. Of the four children, Marylib is the most reserved. She is a beautiful child who loves everyone. We know that each child is a gift. We have made a choice to embrace diabetes. We are blessed to get through this, and to inspire others.

Diabetes Tips:

If your child has this disease, they are likely to have it for many years; therefore children with diabetes need to become empowered in order to care for themselves. Talking with a health care team or professional can provide strategies on how to arrange proper medical care. •

Listen to your child. They may not have the answers but they know how they feel

Don't be afraid to let your child try things that other children are doing

Contact national organizations that serve as advocates for children with type 1 diabetes

Resources:

JUVENILE DIABETES RESEARCH CENTER (JDRF) - the worldwide leader for research to cure type 1 diabetes Website: jdrf.org CAMP ADAM FISHER - South Carolina's largest camp for children with diabetes as well as their brothers, sisters, and friends. Located on Lake Marion in Summerton, SC Website: campadamfisher.com CAMP CODIAK, ST. JOSEPH’S CANDLER Website: sjchs.org/body.cfm?id=977 CANINE ASSISTANCE FOR DIABETES Website: diabeticalertdog.com

Pediatric Endocrinology in the area: • • • • • Left to right: Robbie, Marylib, Madee, CJ

Medical College of GA (Augusta) 706-721-3791 Medical University of South Carolina (Charleston) 843-876-0444 Medical College of Central GA (Macon) 478-633-8391 Nemours (Jacksonville, FL) 904-697-3759  Emory (Atlanta, GA) 404-778-2400

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