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Welcome to Type 1 Diabetes

Spiritual Smart Aleck

Our granddaughter was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes a few weeks ago.
The diagnosis blindsided us. She was wasting away before our eyes, becoming more listless and tired, but it happened so gradually. Her father, JD, was the one who sounded the alarm, and I give him credit for saving her life. We took her to Fulton Family Medicine one Saturday morning to have her checked out.
Thanks and a tip of the hat to Sarah Hebert, who examined Allysan, took blood, and called us the next day. Sarah told us to go to the Emergency Room immediately because Allysan had Type 1 diabetes and was in diabetic ketoacidosis, a condition which can be life-threatening. We said yes, ma’am, and took Allysan in to Children’s Hospital, where she began her new life.
How could this happen? How could a child be so ill, and appear so ill, and we did not pick up on it until she was dangerously ill?
I’ll tell you how it happens. It sneaks up on you. Diabetes is called "the sneaky disease" for a reason. I have heard the warning signs of diabetes more than once – drinking a lot of water, peeing a lot, eating a lot but losing weight. I had noticed that toilet paper was going fast on the weekends. I thought, boy, little girls sure use a lot of toilet paper. News flash: they don’t use that much.
These things were right in front of us, but we didn’t see them. She wears long sleeved shirts and jeans. It wasn’t until she put on shorts and a tank top one night that we saw it. How did she get so thin? How could our granddaughter, our slip of a girl who is thin naturally, get diabetes? Don’t you have to be fat?
No. Diabetes strikes where it will. It can be genetic. The closest relatives Allysan has with type 1 diabetes are two of my brother’s grandchildren, one of whom was diagnosed as an infant of 20 months. This might indicate that there is a diabetes gene hiding in my family DNA, but we know of no other relatives that have it or had it in the past.
As with most terrible things that happen, you don’t have time to sit around asking why and how. You hit the ground running and learn how to count carbohydrate grams and give insulin injections, among other things.
Allysan is on the mend now – gaining weight and more her kid self.
I admit I’m still in shock. I’m in awe of her parents, JD and Nycol, who have stepped up to the plate and are taking care of their girl, working as a team. They are truly rising to this demanding occasion.
And I am grateful. I am so grateful that Allysan’s diabetes has been diagnosed and is being treated, grateful for the prayers and good wishes people sent our way. She has begun to gain a little weight, and is much more lively again. A couple of people have asked me if she’ll outgrow it. No. This is for life.
I am writing about it here because even though Type 1 diabetes is rare, it happens, and it sneaks up on you gradually. I’m telling Allysan’s story so you can look at your child or grandchild or even an older person who might have Type 2, adult onset, diabetes. Or how about yourself?
Do you or someone you know, drink tons of water and go to the bathroom constantly? Is this person always hungry, eating constantly, and losing weight? Take a new look and ask yourself what you haven’t been seeing because you didn’t think there was any need to look. If you read this and it leads to even one person getting diagnosed and beginning treatment for this killer disease, then hurrah. If you or someone you love gets checked out and is healthy, double hurrah. Diabetes is sneaky, it is deadly, and you need to get on top of it. Pay attention.
So that’s my public service announcement for this week. May you and your children and grandchildren all be healthy and live long.