“She’s my hero and together we can do this.”
Judging only by appearance, one would look at Zadie Kaye Bates and see an energetic, playful, beautiful little red-haired four-year-old girl. However, inside this boisterous little bundle of energy, she’s fighting a constant battle that affects around 1.25 million Americans - type 1 diabetes.
Zadie Kaye was just three years old in January of 2019 when her parents, Robb and Amanda Bates, began to notice some alarming symptoms. She seemed to be constantly thirsty, was making more frequent trips to the bathroom, and was losing a little weight. The day that Amanda picked her up from school and her teacher told her that Zadie Kaye had asked for her water cup ten times that day, Amanda decided it was time to visit her pediatrician. A half-day’s time spent running tests yielded results that both shocked and dismayed the Bates family. Not only did Zadie Kaye have T1D, she was in diabetic ketoacidosis, and would have to be transported immediately to Children’s Hospital in Little Rock for treatment.
“We were absolutely in shock,” remembers Amanda. “The doctor came in explaining everything that was about to be done to try and stabilize her blood sugar, and we asked when we needed to do all this and he said, ‘You have to go right now.’ But God had his hand on our family, because luckily for the first time ever, Robb and I and both my parents were there at the doctor’s office - I had plenty of support.”
Upon arrival at Little Rock, Zadie Kaye was admitted directly into ICU and hooked to an IV insulin drip. Her blood sugar was 436. They would spend the next five days and four nights in the hospital, battling highs and lows and realizing life as they had known it before had come to an end.
“That week, we just soaked up all the information we could - we knew nothing about how to care for a child with T1D,” said Amanda. “We had two 8 hour education classes. They were intense and overwhelming….it was by far the worst week of our lives.”
That week was followed by many, many more rough weeks, as the Bates family struggled to adjust to a new routine - one that includes 6-8 injections a day for little Zadie Kaye. For the first six weeks at home, her blood sugar levels had to be checked every two hours around the clock. Highs and lows had to be treated accordingly - an injection to bring down a high reading, or a snack to bring up a low. And on top of the constant worry and exhaustion, Amanda was 4 months pregnant. “I was terrified to come home at first,” she recalled. “I was so afraid that Zadie Kaye’s sugars would get out of control and I would be too far from her doctors. The insulin shots are so unpredictable - it’s not like an exact science. I can figure calories and count carbs and do everything exactly like I’m supposed to do, and her readings might still be inconsistent. Emotionally, I was a disaster. And I was angry - angry that our entire lives had been turned upside down in a single moment, and frustrated that there was nothing I could do about it.”
Almost ten months after Zadie Kaye’s initial diagnosis, things are looking up for the Bates Family. Amanda delivered a healthy baby boy in July that they named Jack, and Zadie Kaye is a doting big sister. She now wears a Dexcom sensor, which is a port in her abdomen that constantly checks her blood sugar levels and send alerts to their cell phones when they are too high or low. When Zadie Kaye was in the hospital in Little Rock, it took four nurses to hold her down while they administered injections. Now, she is able to carry on a conversation while she gets them, just as if it were nothing. They have begun the process of getting an insulin pump which will eventually eliminate the injections altogether.
And though they have a long row to hoe, Amanda says one thing makes it easy to keep going. “Zadie Kaye is so strong,” she said, tearing up. “She is such a fighter….she’s my hero, and together we can do this. The future may seem a little scary for us, but you can look at her and tell, she can handle this. She can handle anything.”