Dateline NBC on Sunday (29 Jan), showed a piece on Ariel Botzet, an 11 year-old girl who died of diabetic ketoacidosis. Her mother was charged with her murder.
I don’t have any sympathy for the mother. She said that she feels no responsibility for her daughter’s death. What kind of parent doesn’t feel responsible for their child’s well-being? If Olivia has one high blood sugar, I feel like I’ve done something wrong. If she has a night of highs, I feel like I’ve failed her. If she DIED? Forget it. I’d have to be commited because I would completely bat-shit crazy with guilt and grief. The feeling that this mother gave off was one of “Woe is me, I’m going to jail.” Not one of grief over the loss of her child.
Her attorney tried to blame the girl, saying she could have been sneaking candy and soda. True. She could have been. If her blood sugars were running so high that she had an a1C of 16.1 (her results just before her death), which means she had an average of 420 bgl over the last three month – 420!! Jesus, that’s high – then she was probably starving because her body was making so many ketones that it was eating itself. Had her mother been checking her blood sugar, she could have dealt with the high blood sugars then and there. Had her mother been in contact with an endocrinologist, the issues of cheating could have been resolved, had they been happening. It really bothers me that they are blaming the girl here, though. She learned by example and her example doesn’t seem to have taken her disease very seriously at all.
Someone (a friend with no D experience) asked if the daughter wasn’t old enough to be taking care of herself. Yes, at 11 years old, the girl could have been checking her own blood sugar. She could have even been giving herself her own shots. But if her mother was lackadaisical about her care, then the daughter probably didn’t realize the importance of being on top of checking. Olivia is 11 and checks her own sugar and boluses herself, but she’s on a pump. She would not be capable of doing the calculations needed to administer shots for food. She just can’t do the math yet. And even with the pump, which calculates her dose for her, she still tells me how much it’s telling her to bolus.
I do think that some responsibility has to fall on the father’s and doctors’ shoulders. Apparently, Ariel rode her bike across town to visit her father about a week before she died. From the sounds of it, she didn’t have her meter or any insulin with her. I know that I would not let Olivia ride her bike across town, diabetes or no diabetes. The father said that Ariel looked pale and a bit sickly. If he was so concerned about her well-being, why didn’t he take her back to her house to get her meter? Why didn’t he take her to the doctor’s himself? And if the doctors were so concerned over her high a1C results and her mother’s apparent lack of care, why didn’t they contact DSS or some other social service? I don’t think all the blame can be placed on the mother in this case, although she certainly should bear the brunt of it.
The case is very sad. Had someone stepped in, even a couple of weeks earlier, this girl might not have died.