"In his entire life, Britton had the stomach bug one time, the flu one time and strep one time," says Emily, who learned of his diagnosis at their pediatrician's office in nearby Monroe. "We were floored, to say the least."
Emily and Jeremy knew nothing at all about diabetes. "I didn't know what was considered normal blood sugar," says Emily. "I didn't even really know the difference between Type I and Type II."
The family was about to get a crash course in the condition. Britton needed emergency care, and friends urged them to travel three hours north to Arkansas Children's Hospital. "Our friends told us, 'you have to go to Arkansas Children's Hospital - they're going to provide you with the best care,'" Emily recalls.
Britton and Jeremy were soon on board an Arkansas Children's Angel One transport helicopter, with Emily following by car.
Emily says from the moment they were under ACH's care they could tell Britton was in good hands. "We knew they were going to take care of him. Every single person we came in contact with was so patient and kind. We knew we were in the right place, without a doubt. When we walked through the doors we could feel their compassion and their love for kids."
Britton was admitted to the pediatric intensive care unit, and the care team soon had things moving in the right direction. By the next evening, Britton was well enough to have his first post-diagnosis meal--and his first insulin shot.
Emily remembers her alarmed reaction when one of the diabetes nurses told her over the following two days, they would teach her and Jeremy everything they needed to know to take Britton home. "I said, 'you're going to send us home?' I couldn't believe it," says Emily.
The education team helped the worried parents understand what would be involved in keeping Britton healthy after being discharged. Child Life specialists spoke directly with Britton about his condition "in a way his 6-year-old mind could understand," says Emily.
"We left ACH with confidence he was going to be okay. We knew we could call at any time and they would help us."
Britton went home to Ruston with a glucose monitor connected by Bluetooth to his phone and his parents’ phones so they can monitor his blood sugar at all times, without which his mom says, she probably would have "never slept again."
In between quarterly checkups at Arkansa Children's Diabetes Clinic, Britton is back to being the happy, sports-loving kid he was before. When asked by his teacher to share something about himself with his classmates, he wrote, "When I grow up, I want to be a doctor so I can cure diabetes."
Emily says she is thankful for the friends who recommended ACH to her, and hopes that by serving as an ACH Ambassador family, the Sandidges can make others aware of the life-saving work happening at Arkansas Children’s.
"It’s hard to put into words the gratitude we feel for what goes into Arkansas Children’s and what the people there pour out of it with their love, kindness, and generosity."