Just do it!

Nothing holds her back from doing big things

“Dad, Dad!!  Are you excited for hockey today?” Shanley (Shay) said at 8am on a Saturday morning as she jumped in our bed to give me a HUGE Hug. “YES!, honey I’m SUPER EXCITED to skate with you today.” I responded. “Me Too!!” Shanley said with a smile from ear to ear.

This time of year, Saturday & Sunday mornings, Shay and I get to enjoy an hour on the ice together doing one of the sports we both love… Hockey! There is nothing like her smile when she wakes up and knows its hockey day.  Immediately, Shay jumps out of bed, rushes downstairs and starts packing her hockey bag. She can’t stop talking about shooting pucks, scoring a goal and practicing her stops… “Dad, don’t forget to tape my stick.” she yells up the stairs. “Dad, do you think we will get to play a game today… I’m going to score a GOAL!” she said to me as I knelt down next to her and helped pack her hockey bag. “Sugar Shay, are you sure you don’t want to get dressed at the house… instead of at the rink.” I asked. “No Dad, I am 6 now and I know how to get dressed like my sister Ireland and the big girls.” she responded. So, we packed up her hockey bag, her diabetes bag and grabbed something quick to eat. Then headed off for the rink.

As we drove to the rink Shay was singing out loud and kicking the back of my seat to the beat of her music. To distract her, I always start asking about some of the kids she skates with. “Hey Shay, do you think Cooper is going to be there today… Will he score a goal? Or what about Max. Is he faster than you?” “Dad, seriously! You know I am faster than Max… Even though he is a boy. But, Cooper… he always scores goals.” Shanley responded. We pulled into the parking lot. As I jumped out of the car I grab the bag of skittles I had in my glove box; just in case we needed them. Shay, being the big girl she is, grabbed her hockey bag and stick. While I grabbed mine and we headed into the rink.

“Good morning!!” Coach said to Shay as she walked in the locker room. “Hi Coach!!” Shay said with a smile and a pep in her step. We made our way to the corner where we like to sit. Hayden was sitting on the left of us and Nikko on the right. When we got to the rink Shay needed to take her pump off. She doesn’t like skating with her insulin pump on because it’s bulky and hurts pushing against her body with hockey equipment on.

As she gets undressed Shay smacks me on the leg and says, “Dad, get my pump dude.” That’s my cue to unbuckle the pump from around her waist and unclip the insulin line from her set which is inserted into her buttocks. Obviously, this requires me to pull the top part of her pant down just enough to disconnect her set. Just as I am about to disconnect Hayden looks at me and says, “What are you doing… What is that?” As you can imagine it’s a question we frequently get. I knelt down on my knee “This is an insulin pump Shanley needs because she has Type 1 Diabetes. The pump allows her body to stay healthy and strong Hayden.” I said softly and slowly so she could understand me. With a confused look on her face she said, “Oh!”

Out of the corner of my eye I could see her Mom looking down at the ground, then looking away from me and her face turned red. That’s when I looked at her and smiled. “Don’t worry, Shay is cool talking about her Diabetes. Right Shay!” As we leaned against each other, I gave her a hug knowing exactly what she would say, “Yeah Dad, Duhh! Hayden, I have Diabetes… That’s why I wear my pump. Don’t worry I am alright.” Shay leaned over to give Hayden a small hug. I was lost in the moment knowing my little girl showed all four of us what kindness and compassion felt like.

Next, I had to double check Shay’s blood sugar levels to make sure she doesn’t go on the ice with her blood sugar below 80. If she was to do that… she could go low resulting in her passing out or… Well you know. So, I make sure I know what her blood sugar levels are at— all the time. Especially before we jump on the ice. Good thing I grabbed those skittles because she was at 100 when I disconnected her.

As I started putting her pump away Shanley got dressed like the big girls. “Dad, don’t forget my water bottle you know how I get thirsty on the ice.” Shanley said to me with a direct tone of voice. “Got It!” I responded as we made our way onto the ice.

Jumping on the ice Shay takes off!! She loves to see how fast she can skate right when she gets on the ice. I think it’s that feeling of floating in the air, like a bird in the sky, one gets when you first hit the ice. At least I know that’s how I feel. Being the competitor she is, Shanley never goes less than 110% when she is doing drills or playing games and trying to score goals or preventing them.  Towards the end of every 1 hour practice Coach usually likes to let the kids play a game. Since playing a game is fun and having fun is what it’s all about.

Just before the game was about to start. Shay skated up to me and said, “Dad, I’m tired.” Then she fell to the ice and laid there. My heart began racing, thoughts started racing through my head (I haven’t checked her since we got on the ice. She was at 100… is she at 50 now. Oh NO! How do I get her up. What do I do….. Stay Calm Murph!) “Shay, what’s going on honey?  Are you alright? Are you low?” I said in a slightly frantic voice since I knew I had not checked her blood sugar since we got on the ice. Knowing she still has 20 minutes to skate and play her game I remembered I had those skittles in my pocket.

“Shay, should I give you those skittles… They will bring your blood sugar up and give you energy. I don’t want you to be slow — Max is on the other team.” I said “Ok, Ok Dad!  Just Do it!!” She said frantically with her hand out waiting for me to give her skittles so she could quick eat and get back in the game. Coach, knowing Shanley’s situation, said “Murph, is everything Ok?” I responded “Yeah, we are all good. She is just a little low which is making her tired.” just as I said that, Shay sat up and whacked me in the leg with her stick. “Dad, there are no quitters in the Murphy family. When he blows that whistle I am going back in the game. Tell him! Tell him! I am not quitting!! Just Do it!!!  Give me those skittles Dad!!  HURRY!” Shay shouted with a very demanding voice. I couldn’t blame her. She was not feeling good and when her blood sugar gets below 80 she starts to get agitated and frustrated very easily. That’s when I just take a deep breath and do my best to keep everything and everyone under control. “Here you go sweetie” as I handed her the skittles. “Thanks!” She said and slammed them in her mouth, just as the whistle blew and she headed into the game.

As I stood on the ice watching her, I couldn’t help but have a grin on my face. For a second, I caught myself with a big smile as I day dreamed about what might be one day.

Coach blew the whistle, “Good Work!! Time To Go!” he shouted. Everyone started to make their way off the ice. I leaned over and said “Shay are you feeling better? do you think your numbers are up?” “Yes Dad! I am OK.” She said as we made our way into the locker room. “Dad, I am glad you had those skittles otherwise Max would have been faster than me.” Shay said with a smile on her face. I took a deep breath while reflecting on the moment. Thankful, everything worked out…

“Murph, how is Shay doing?” Coach said as he made his way over to check on her. “We’re all good!” I responded. Then he put his hand on Shay’s head and said, “Honey, you don’t have to skate if you are not feeling good. I understand.” “No, No I won’t ever miss a game. I can’t let my teammates down they need me. We never, never, never give up and always work hard.” Shay said to Coach as if she was the one coaching him. He looked over at me with a look on his face I will never forget.

As we got undressed Shanley took off for the bathroom to change her clothes, with her pump and everything we need to do she’s usually the last one to leave. I started getting her pump reactivated and making sure the sensor was turned on… ready to go. “Murph, is that diabetes a pretty rough thing on her?” Coach asked in a very quiet voice as if not to offend and in a tone with the upmost respect. “Yeah! It SUCKS! Sleepless nights, one minute she has a high blood sugar making her body redline like a sports car racing off the starting line. Her body starts sweating, she can’t sit still and she needs lots of water. Then, the next minute she is low… like you saw today. Laying down, her legs get heavy, she feels like all the energy has been sucked from her body. One time she said it felt like she is stuck in cement.” I told him.  “I don’t know much about diabetes. That’s why I asked.” Coach said.

“Neither did I, until the day we found out Shanley had Type 1 Diabetes. Our family was in the hospital for 5 days learning about diabetes 24/7. I have learned something new about this disease every day for the last 4 years and I will continue to learn something new every day… Until we find the cure.

If you want to learn more check out our TeamSugarShay.com page. Here, you can read our story and learn as much as you want through JDRF.org. I pray, one day they “Just Do It” and find a cure so Shanley can be like all the other kids.”

I ask YOU to join our family in the fight to cure Type 1 Diabetes. The fight to help those who are struggling to afford their insulin, their pump supplies, their medical supplies, their insurance. The fight to help those with Type 1 Diabetes feel normal.

Let’s come together and support Shanley… continue showing her to never give up, like she shows us every day,  by supporting her in her fight against Type 1 Diabetes. You will do this by participating in our JDRF One|Walk and contributing to TeamSugarShay.com. Because, we can’t find the cure without you.

One person can make a difference – with the help of others.

Shay, I love you, you have taught everyone you come in contact with… lessons about being a better person and what it means to NEVER, NEVER, NEVER GIVE UP! I know you will make a difference in our world. You will change people’s lives.  Thank you honey.

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