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It’s a news that no parent wants to hear, that your child has a chronic medical condition. My daughter was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes when she was 15 months old.
What Is Type 1 Diabetes?
Type 1 Diabetes is an autoimmune disease where the person’s pancreas stops producing insulin. It is very different from Type 2 Diabetes, where the person still produces insulin, but its production is not enough, or the person is insulin resistant.
What Is Insulin?
Insulin is a hormone that controls blood-sugar levels on the person’s bloodstream.
What Is The Cause Of Type 1 Diabetes?
No one knows why Type 1 Diabetes occurs. As I write this blog, this is still being researched. When my daughter was diagnosed, this was one of the questions that I asked her Endocrinologist, after all the crying and shock, “Why her? How is it possible for a baby of only 15 months old to have this horrible condition?” The Endocrinologist, who is awesome by the way, said that the factors for the cause of this autoimmune disease are still unknown. Some theories say that it could be the food, the environment, or even genetics.
Sadly, there is no prevention or cure for Type 1 Diabetes, unlike Type 2 Diabetes, which may “go away” with diet, exercise, and oral medication. Type 1 Diabetes is a chronic condition that can occur at any age, it is sometimes called Juvenile Diabetes, but it can occur to an adult.
Some famous people who are diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes are: actress Sharon Stone, actress Vanessa William, actress Mary Tyler Moore (R.I.P), singer Nick Jonas, singer Bret Michaels, quarterback for the Chicago Bears Jay Cutler, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, cross-country skier Kris Freeman, Prime Minister UK Theresa May, and many more.
How Is Type 1 Diabetes Managed?
Type 1 Diabetes needs 24/7, 365 days a year management. My husband and I need to carefully administrate insulin to our daughter, depending on what she is going to eat, if she is going to be playing, or even sleeping. In the beginning, we used to finger prick my daughter from 8 – 10 times a day, and inject her about 6 times, approximately. So overall she was getting poked and prodded about 16 times a day! That is a lot for a little 15 month-old to handle, and not just her, for us as parents it was extremely painful! You have no idea the hours that my husband and I have cried over this horrible disease while we are checking our daughter, and giving her the life-saving insulin.
Currently, we manage her sugars with a Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM) and an insulin pump. These two little devices have been life-saving for her and it gives us as parents a more peace of mind. Thanks to these two little devices, her pocking and prodding have decreased, to about 2 times daily to calibrate the CGM, and every 3 days to change the site for her insulin pump (no more injections, unless the insulin pump fails, which has not happened yet, and I hope it never will).
Insulin is not a cure. Insulin keeps people living with this chronic disease alive. It helps keep the blood-glucose levels in range, and it helps prevents the side effects of Diabetes, like amputation, blindness, kidney failure and more.
Statistics From JDRF
- Some 1.25 million Americans are living with T1D, including about 200,000 youth (less than 20 years old) and more than 1 million adults (20 years old and older).
- 40,000 people are diagnosed each year in the U.S.
- 5 million people in the U.S. are expected to have T1D by 2050, including nearly 600,000 youth.
- Between 2001 and 2009, there was a 21 percent increase in the prevalence of T1D in people under age 20.
- In the U.S., there are $14 billion in T1D-associated healthcare expenditures and lost income annually.
- Less than one-third of people with T1D in the U.S. are consistently achieving target blood-glucose control levels.
Warning signs of T1D often appear suddenly and may include:
- Drowsiness or lethargy
- Extreme thirst
- Frequent urination
- Fruity odor on the breath
- Increased appetite
- Heavy or labored breathing
- Sudden weight loss
- Sudden vision changes
- Sugar in the urine
- Stupor or unconsciousness
What To Do?
I first noticed the symptoms indicated on the warning signs on my daughter very quickly. The onset for this condition is quick, so you need to be aware of them, and take your child or yourself to the hospital as soon as possible if you suspect that you have this condition. As they always say “Always follow that gut feeling”.
I knew that something was going on with my daughter, so I took her to her Pediatrician quickly. The Pediatrician heard my concerns and did a urine test. The urine test showed that there was glucose, which is an indicator of Diabetes, but a blood test is needed to confirm this diagnosis.
As a result of this positive urine test, we were rushed to the ER. At the ER, when my daughter’s finger was pricked, her blood-glucose was 419 mg/dL! The normal blood-glucose range is from 80 – 180 mg/dL (approximate). My daughter was in Mild Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA). You can read more about DKA here.
My daughter today is 3 years old and healthy. We still need to check her glucose, give her insulin daily and see her Endocrinologist every 3 months, but she is a lot more stable now in comparison of when she was first diagnosed. Every day we try to teach her about her condition, and how she needs to take care of herself. We try to teach her to eat healthy, although that is hard for a 3-year-old, and to exercise.
I hope and pray that there is a cure for this chronic illness and that someday Diabetes is something that can be taken care of with a vaccine or a transplant, but for now, we just live our lives day by day, and just try to enjoy life as it comes with all that entails.
For more information about Diabetes, please head over to the JDRF website for more information.
“Life is not over because you have diabetes. Make the most of what you have, be grateful.” – Dale Evans
** Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, nurse or any professional in the medical field. You should always consult with your doctor about any symptoms that you, any family member or your child may be feeling. The experiences detailed here in this blog, are of my own.