About two and half months ago, Christy and Levi boarded a plane bound for Dallas, Texas from Rwanda. Christy was 34 weeks pregnant and needed to fly before international travel rules prevented her from doing so. (Due to safety concerns international airlines do not let women fly if they have been pregnant for 36 or more weeks). Lydia was to be delivered in the U.S. and Brian would join Christy and Levi three weeks later to witness the birth.
Shortly after Thanksgiving, Levi began acting strange. When spending time with Levi, you will discover that he is a very social, people loving and happy little guy. These qualities suddenly seemed to disappear. Levi was constantly irritable, crying for 45 minute spells, had trouble sleeping, began biting people and things, and banging his head against walls. Christy was beside herself wondering what had caused this sudden change. He showed no other signs of sickness. On the third day of this new behavior, Levi began wetting through his diapers every two to three hours. This went on for three more days.
Christy sister, a nursing major, had just returned from a semester in Zambia through Harding University where she worked in a medical clinic and an orphanage. On December 3, she expressed concerns about Levi to Christy and her mother. She said that these fits and diaper wetting were not normal and suggested that we check his glucose level (blood sugars). Christy’s mother, a type 1 diabetic for many years, pulled out her glucose monitor and proceeded to prick Levi’s finger in order to test his glucose level. Levi’s glucose level registered extremely high. Immediately Christy’s family rushed Levi to the ER and within hours Levi, only 20 months old, was diagnosed with juvenile Type 1 diabetes.
Overnight our lives changed. Christy called Brian with the news and he made arrangements to board the next flight out of Rwanda in order to join his family. Over the next few days we began to realize the severity of our son’s diagnosis. Type 1 diabetes is always a horrible, heartbreaking diagnosis, but when an infant or toddler is diagnosed additional concerns arise. Because of Levi’s inability to communicate how he is physically feeling, we as parents have to constantly watch him in order to detect signs of high or low blood sugar. High blood sugars lead to organ destruction and low blood sugars can result in seizures, comas, or even heart attacks. We must now count every carbohydrate that enters his mouth and match that with his insulin intake. Levi begins every day with a finger prick to test his glucose level and two insulin shots. Throughout the rest of the day he will receive five to six more finger pricks and two more shots. Even with following “all the rules”, Levi still has off days. A simple running nose can make his sugars extremely high all day making him feel even more miserable. If not closely monitored during times of illness, Levi will have to be rushed to the ER once again in order to prevent organ shutdown.
What does this mean for the Dolingers and Rwanda? Due to the lack of dependable emergency health care and diabetic supplies, the Dolingers have no choice, but to leave Rwanda and return to the U.S. This breaks our hearts! I cannot tell you how many tears we have cried. First for our son, and second for the unexpected withdrawal from the people and land that we have grown to love. Christy and the children are unable to return, due to Levi’s condition, so Brian returned to Rwanda. He resigned from his job, prepared for a new director of the school, moved out from our house and ensured that our guard, Robert, found another stable job. Caleb and Jenny Beck moved into our house and have helped Brian complete these tasks. We are so thankful for their help and support. Brian ended his trip by saying goodbye to all of our dear friends. We will always miss all of our Rwandan friends. We will pray for the day that we can be reunited again.
We want to thank you for all the prayers, love, and support that you have given us over the past three years. You have enabled us to serve Rwanda for a short, but valuable time. We praise God for your faithfulness.
Brian, Christy, Levi, and Lydia Dolinger
Posted on Fri, January 29, 2010