It was an extremely hot August day in 1990, the sort of day in August in the District of Columbia when you could peel the dampness off your skin -- and would if you were so able. And I was sitting in the backseat of a car owned by the US Marshals and supervising the eviction of a rogue pseudo-minister from my clients’ house. It’s a long story -- five years of unpaid rent and litigation in the making -- and the eviction was long overdue. The US Marshals were there because there had been talk of guns.
And then my beeper went off.
This was in the days before cellphones. I hightailed it to a public phone booth and called -- because the beeper number was my office, and my secretary told me that my Mom had called and that my sister-in-law was in labor. So much for the eviction. I confabbed with the Marshals and hailed a cab and headed for the airport.
In those days, you could get on the shuttle to NYC and pay on board. I counted the 59 minutes to LaGuardia with bated breath, streaked out, and hailed another cab into the city. I said I was going to be an Aunt and could he please step on it to Mount Sinai. And then I got to the hospital and ran up the stairs to the third floor and just as I arrived at the nursery viewing window, they were wheeling in a precious little girl with rosebud lips who looked just like my Dad, and I whipped out a legal pad from my briefcase and scrawled our family’s last name on it, in lipstick, with a question mark, and held it up -- and the nurses nodded. And that is how I met Kate.
Thirty minutes later, I hid in the bathroom of my sister-in-law’s room, because they were bringing Kate in and had said parents only. And when the nurses left, I got to hold her, and I fell in love.
Flash forward to another airport; this time in January 1992. We had been to Texas to see my grandmother and for a family reunion. For weeks before, Kate, who loves peas, had been opening the freezer at my Mom’s house and at hers, and fishing bags of frozen peas out and eating them by the handful. We had no idea why. By the time we left Texas, Kate was under the weather. Everyone was tired from the trip, but she was especially cranky. The plane was delayed for hours; by the time we got home, it was early morning on New Year’s Day. I went to my parents’ house; Kate went with her parents to their home, about a mile away.
At 5 a.m. on January 2, the phone rang. It was my brother, calling to tell us that he and my sister-in-law were in the emergency room at Mount Sinai. Kate’s temperature had spiked to almost 107 degrees. By the grace of God, one of the residents on call that night had recently had training in juvenile diabetes, and had decided to test her blood sugar. It was over 700. (Normal is less than 100.) Had that resident not been there to figure out what was wrong, Kate might have died.
At 6 a.m., we learned that Kate had Juvenile Diabetes. She was 16 months old. She was in the ICU.
My Mom and I drove to the hospital. We spent most of the next seven days there, as did my sister-in-law (who was pregnant) and my brother.
I remember the great relief I felt, one of those awful afternoons, when I was staying with Kate while my brother and sister-in-law were taking classes, learning how to care for her, and I was holding Kate, who was sleeping in my arms, and our minister came. His blessings for her relieved my heartache, temporarily.
But little relieved my heartache as much as did President Obama’s repeal of President Bush’s halt of government funding for stem-cell research. I was in California when President Bush announced his ban on the funding in 2001. I remember hearing it on the radio. And all I could think, then, was this: my niece has been stuck with needles 10,000 times already, Mr. President. How many times will be enough for you?
Kate is an amazing person. She is more hopeful and optimistic than I could ever be. When she was 10, she passed out from low blood sugar at her elementary school. There was no nurse there, and her fellow students simply walked over her body. Even writing this makes my cry.
But that’s not Kate. She has endured the needles and the other restrictions on her life with so much faith and courage. Five years ago, she got a pump for her insulin. This is a good thing for her blood sugar levels, but how can anyone say that having to change a pump site (which involves sticking a needle into your abdomen every couple of days) is really a good thing? She was here a couple of weeks ago, to tour George Washington University, where she will be a freshman in September. (Don’t even ask how delighted I am that she will be so close!) We went out to dinner, then. And she went to the Ladies’ Room, and I went with her. I was washing my hands when I heard suppressed groans from the stall she was in. I asked her if she was okay, and she said, "It’s okay Aunt -----, it’s just my pump."
Yes, just her pump. The pump that might not have been necessary had the Bush Administration provided government support and money for stem cell research.
(Which, by the way, Kate has raised on her own by starting her own on-line business with her best friend, a cancer survivor. They designed and market t-shirts; all the proceeds go to research for cures for juvenile diabetes and cancer. When Kate’s friend was undergoing chemotherapy, and lost her hair, Kate cut hers off in solidarity -- and donated her gorgeous locks so that a wig could be made for someone else. )
People who do not know about Juvenile Diabetes have a lot of misconceptions about it. Well-meaning friends have said, "well, it’s just a matter of managing what she eats." No, sadly, it is not just this. Kate’s body does not produce insulin. She can be careful about what she eats and still suffer highs and lows, and still be at risk for heart damage, blindness and poor circulation leading to amputations. Other people say, "Well, it’s juvenile diabetes, maybe she will grow out of it." No, she won’t. Absent a cure, her life will always be as it has been for the past 17 years: checking her blood sugar levels with pricks 10 times a day, wearing an insulin pump, changing the needle that sticks in her abdomen. Hoping for a cure.
But all of this is not the gist of the diary; this is: Kate graduated from high school today. A few hours before this diary was posted, she received her diploma (with honors). In her college essays, which she asked me to look at, she spoke only of hope and optimism. She wrote about gratitude for the gifts she had been given (great parents, great friends). She said, "My life is pretty amazing."
This sweet, wonderful girl is my heroine. She had endured so much with so much grace and courage -- I do not know how. And today, she graduated from high school with honors. And I am so very proud of her.
And now on to tonight’s Top Comments (before I have to open another box of tissues):
From Lefty Coaster:
From Texas Revolutionary:
In today’s Mojo Friday, Its the Supreme Court Stupid’s comment about comment count being off resulted in a bizarre discussion on twisted metaphysics, kicked off by, yup, it’s the Supreme Court Stupid.
From Im Nonpartisan:
Little cracks wise in hungrycoyote’s diary, Annapolis ~ Obama Commencement Address Without Protests.
To this lovely comment from Al Rodgers, about community diaries, I say Amen.
And a special hat-tip and thank you to Turkana, for this courageous and important diary today: Yes, Actually, I CAN Judge the Chemo Kid.
Top Comments by the numbers, brought to you by mojo heroine Brillig.
Top 30 (plus ties) Comments excluding search-identifiable tip jars, first comments, Mojo Friday and C&J:
1) Who cares about Hannity? by ratador — 123
2) he is a child by Turkana — 100
3) Gov. Ridge Better Watch His Back: by leonard145b — 99
4) A few hours? by Calouste — 97
5) actually by Turkana — 93
6) Complaint to the IRS? by Dallasdoc — 83
7) Shorter Krugman by felldestroyed — 82
8) Making perfect sense. I've had it also with by dotster — 80
9) Check out this other piece for contrast by Rayne — 80
10) No, not GBCW, by I love OCD — 76
11) Hannity, table for one? n/t by The Damned Yankee — 76
12) The most bizarre coincidence ever by AlanF — 75
13) Keep Your Eyes On the Prize by darkrogue — 73
14) And this is by leftilicious — 71
15) Our legal system says there are some choices by rfall — 70
16) I'm with you all the way, baby. by Colorado is the Shiznit — 67
17) But 184 times will take a little time. by Its the Supreme Court Stupid — 66
18) He lasted just about 5 seconds. Here's the video by KevinNYC — 66
19) I almost didn't click on your diary by Kitty — 65
20) This is one of those times ... by Meteor Blades — 65
21) How does a functionally illiterate by decembersue — 65
22) He's not a true conservative by samantha in oregon — 63
23) As bizarre as their reasoning is, by xysea — 62
24) Imagine having that done to you by blue aardvark — 62
25) The problem with the view ... by Meteor Blades — 61
26) Wait... you mean by Frankenoid — 60
27) I have lower aspirations by buhdydharma — 60
28) Calm down, f'crissakes. by Crashing Vor — 59
29) once again by Turkana — 59
30) Enough of this by glutz78 — 58
31) What's The Difference Between Liberty University, by leonard145b — 58
32) My Hear Goes Out to Darth by Pluto — 58
33) ::shakes head: by Gemina13 — 58
Top 30 comments with no exclusions:
1) Tip Jar! by The Erratic Synapse — 667
2) Did you say falmes? - put me on a funeral boat, by I love OCD — 416
3) Tips for Progress by Detroit Mark — 368
4) Teletippie Jar by kestrel9000 — 362
5) Wont she just go away already? by JeffLieber — 346
6) Tips for the truth by beachmom — 319
7) Idiot jar by LithiumCola — 296
8) tips for a world turning by john de herrera — 283
9) Tips: Because it IS about spine, not spin! n/t by bobswern — 232
10) Tips n/t by Cenk Uygur — 225
11) this by Turkana — 212
12) Tips for Cantonese and LOLcat by Maimonides — 189
13) Tip Jar by Jesselyn Radack — 185
14) Tips by Ellinorianne — 184
15) so glad Kennedy is with us! by slinkerwink — 163
16) Donation Mug by TexDem — 138
17) Mojo Friday Wants You, to Donate by TexDem — 128
18) CC is watching to see if you're by TexDem — 125
19) Who cares about Hannity? by ratador — 124
20) In the spirit of fairness by Nick Zouroudis — 123
21) Hi TD by blue jersey mom — 121
22) Do with this what you will by teacherken — 120
23) You won!!! by donnamarie — 117
24) Morning DM by Ex Con — 113
25) Morning EC! by Hedwig — 108
26) We missed an Anniversary by donnamarie — 108
27) Good Mornin' Donna! by Hedwig — 107
28) Mojo for Donating by TexDem — 106
29) Thanks for stopping by by TexDem — 105
30) Hi Owl! by blue jersey mom — 103
31) Don't forget to Rec the Donation Diary! by debbieleft — 103
If you spot a Top Comment, send it in! The addy is top comments at gmail dot com. We need them by 9:30 p.m. EST to include -- and we'd love it if you would include you screen name, so a proper hat-tip may be, um, tipped!