When Sugar Was the Answer

"She isn't talking," he said. "She won't respond to anything I say." There was no color in her face. Her eyes looked clouded and distant.
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It's an alarming feeling when you see all of your toddler's sustenance splattered across your kitchen. When you watch in horror as it runs down the stove and cabinets, take up impressive space on the floor. When you're aware that it's in your hair, in your dinner, covering you and your little one. The shock and panic course through.

There is no food in her body right now.

There is throw-up everywhere.

There are germs everywhere.

How will I clean this?

I stared at the aftermath, stunned that so much food could come out of such a tiny body.

My lean girl with usually rosy cheeks now swayed like a willow branch, looking peaked and too thin.

I steadied her as I stripped us down, cleaned and disinfected the kitchen, then plopped us into the tub.

She thew up again that night, then three times after that. There were several outfit changes, frenzied dashes to sinks and trash cans.

By 1:00 a.m. my husband and I were gingerly pushing an antiemetic under her tongue. I felt thankful when she began awaking every hour, asking for (and thankfully keeping down) water.

The next day she slept, ate applesauce, bananas and toast, drank sips of water and refused all attempts at Pedialyte.

It was a calm day until she awoke delirious that evening, was strangely irritable, kicked her legs and kept yelling "No!" at us.

She quickly fell back asleep, but awoke two hours later with the same symptoms.

"No, Daddy! No, Mommy! No, Daddy! No, Mommy!" It was her only plea. Her skin felt cold, eyes looked dazed.

Micah managed to lift and calm her, hold her close and sing her lullabies.

I left the room and called the doctor, asked if we should take her to the ER.

"Do you have any lollipops in the house?" the doctor asked.

Lollipops? "No, we don't have candy in the house."

"Do you have any fruit snacks?"

What? "No."

"Anything really sweet?"

"We have grapes and applesauce."

"Her blood sugar is very low. You need something sweeter than that." I felt helpless. We didn't have anything. I should have pushed the Pedialyte more. "Do you have any frosting?"

I envisioned the kitchen cabinet, remembered a lone can of frosting on the bottom shelf. I'd bought it during the holidays and had never used it.

"Yes!" I felt like Super Mom.

"Give her a spoonful. That should help. Call me in 30 minutes if she doesn't improve."

I hung up the phone and sprinted down the stairs for the frosting, scooped a healthy portion onto a toddler spoon.

I returned to her room and she lay silently on Micah's chest, looked ahead blankly.

"She isn't talking," he said. "She won't respond to anything I say." There was no color in her face. Her eyes looked clouded and distant.

I gave her the frosting and then sat her on my lap.

"Tegan, what's Mommy's name?"

"I don't know."

"Is it Rachael?"

She searched my eyes and nodded hesitantly.

"What's Daddy's name?"

"I don't know."

I called back the doctor.

"You'd better take her to the ER," she said. "Her glucose levels must be really low."

I carried Tegan downstairs as Micah grabbed his wallet. The TV was still on, playing an episode of Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives.

"Mommy, why is the TV on? It's really loud. Can you turn it down, please?"

I stared at her in shock, incredulous. Her blue eyes stared back at me, awaiting an answer.

"What's my name?" I demanded.


"What's Daddy's name?"

"Micah. Can you please turn down the TV?" I turned it off.

"What color are your shoes?"

She glanced down. "Pink."

"Are you OK?"

"Yeah. Can I have a snack? I want to eat it at the table so I can paint a picture."

It had only been minutes, but the sugar had already coursed through her system, returned our girl. We kept monitoring her, but there was no trip to the ER -- no IVs, no tears, no struggle. There was a trip for lollipops. We gave her three.

We smiled as she sat at the kitchen table, lollipop in hand, painting with ColorWonder paint, talking like she had a week's worth of news to share.

We stood contently observing, let her cover every inch of her paper.

And we made a mental note: Always keep frosting in the pantry. And a couple lollipops.