March 22, 2018, may have started off normally for Sierra Greenlee. On that day, the mom had left home for work, safe in the knowledge that she’d be picking up her three-year-old daughter Arya later. However, within seconds of collecting her daughter from the babysitter, Greenlee began to panic – and that March date became one that would live on in her memory forever.
Greenlee had envisaged the following day to be a special one, as mom and daughter had been apart for a while. March 23, 2018, would begin with a late breakfast, before the toys came out and the fun started. Or, at least, that’s what Greenlee had had in mind.
So, once the mom had arrived at the babysitter’s house, the childminder gathered Arya and transferred her to Greenlee’s car. But something didn’t appear quite right: Arya looked exhausted, and her body appeared lifeless. Greenlee even jokingly asked if her little treasure was breathing. Then she put her hand on her daughter’s chest, and everything felt still.
Upon that discovery, Greenlee burst into a blind panic, doing everything she could to try and revive her daughter. She subsequently hurried her child back indoors and, with the emergency services summoned, desperately tried to perform CPR on the three-year-old’s limp form.
Then, once the emergency services arrived, they took over and rushed Arya to the hospital for urgent medical treatment. There, doctors did all they could to try and revive the little girl. Meanwhile, all her distraught mother could do was wait helplessly and pray for the best.
But, ultimately, a medic told Greenlee the words that she – and probably many other parents – dreaded hearing the most. “She did not survive,” the doctor said, according to the mom. Everything had been done to try to save the little girl – but to no avail. And, understandably, Greenlee was left devastated.
Still coming to terms with the appalling events of the past few hours, Greenlee hugged her daughter’s body in the hospital, clutching it tightly as its warmth slowly ebbed away. The heartbroken mother also ran her fingers through Arya’s hair and recited her daughter’s favorite song.
The death of Arya may have been baffling to Greenlee – not least because the little girl had been given a clean bill of health just a week before. And during the life-saving efforts and in the immediate aftermath of the tragedy, no one was aware of just what had caused the dramatic decline in the toddler’s health.
Then, after a few months of grieving, Greenlee eventually described the traumatic day on social media and to various media outlets. “Everything I was – was in that little girl,” she said to KTVU in September 2018. Referring to the time she received the terrible news from the doctor at the hospital, Greenlee continued, “In that moment, I couldn’t feel anything. It was like my heart had stopped too. I was an empty shell.”
However, at the time of Greenlee’s heartfelt words, the cause of Arya’s death had been disclosed: she had died from undiagnosed Type 1 diabetes. In fact, the little girl’s blood sugar levels had been five times above the norm, and this was what had forced her body into a coma.
And in an effort to help others, Greenlee described the incident in great detail on her Facebook page. There, she urged people to share the post in order to warn parents how difficult it can be to detect diabetes in children – and to get their own kids checked. Doing so, after all, could be the difference between life and death.
Greenlee’s touching post describes March 22, 2018, as being the “worst night of her life.” It concluded, “I beg you to ask your child’s doctor to test for [diabetes]. I beg you to become aware of the signs and symptoms of childhood diabetes. I beg you to share this post and story with everyone because no parent should ever have to hear the words ‘I’m sorry, but unfortunately she did not survive.’”
The post also warned parents that doctors don’t test for diabetes in children until they are at school – unless other family members are known to have suffered from the disease. What’s more, diabetes symptoms are often overlooked because they include behaviors already associated with extremely young children, such as lethargy and peeing and drinking more than is typical.
Other more noticeable symptoms of Type 1 diabetes include vomiting, abdominal discomfort, constipation and headaches. If you believe your child may be diabetic, then, take them to a medical professional, and they will be able to carry out a diagnosis.
Interestingly, Type 1 diabetes is more common in children than you may expect. The Canadian Pediatric Society estimates that one in 300 kids old enough for school suffers from the condition. Furthermore, roughly one in ten Canadians with diabetes rely on insulin in order to control their situation.
However, while Type 1 diabetes can be fatal, it is also a condition that millions of people live with. Most use a combination of insulin injections, a nutritious diet and regular exercise to manage things. That said, the first step towards a successful life with diabetes is to be aware that you are a sufferer. So don’t be afraid to book yourself – and your family – in for a check-up if need be.
In addition, the most reliable way to test for Type 1 diabetes is through a blood sugar test. After all, Arya’s parents and doctors couldn’t spot the symptoms, even when the little girl’s blood sugar level was high. And this was something that left her mom dumbfounded. “I could not comprehend this information,” Greenlee said on Facebook. “How could my baby have diabetes? How could she have died from a disease that I know thousands of people manage?”
Unsurprisingly, Greenlee’s Facebook post did a lot to spread awareness of this potentially fatal illness. The message was shared more than 650,000 times, and many people left their thanks to Greenlee for sharing her tale. “Because of you, all three of our babies will be tested,” one commenter wrote. Another added, “You are doing a wonderful thing to educate people. Most people absolutely do not understand Type 1.”
Greenlee’s moving post also featured an image of her daughter’s grave. The simple tombstone bears the dates of little Arya’s life, who was born on August 18, 2015, and passed away most unexpectedly on March 22, 2018. Also featured on the stone is an emotional message from Greenlee, which reads, simply, “You’re my best friend.”
Hopefully, then, Greenlee’s efforts to raise awareness of Type 1 diabetes will encourage more parents to get their children checked to ensure that the same nightmare doesn’t happen to them. And if just one family is spared the heartbreak that engulfed the Greenlees, then little Arya’s tragic death will not have been in vain.