The Truth about Type 1 Diabetes


It's been said that around this time of year I get a little pushy.

A little.

I have to admit. It's probably true. At least since January 2007.

That is when my son was rushed by ambulance to Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto. He was "quite comatose" the doctor said. He was in "DKA" the doctor said. He was having "kussmaul respiration" the doctor said.

All we really heard was "your son is very, very sick". All we knew was he was leaning closer to death than to life. I still tear up thinking about it. Can never quite get that choking feeling out of my throat.

What we didn't know at the time was he is a Type 1 Diabetic. And we didn't know the warning signs

So yes at this time of year I get a little pushy. Ever since then we have been participating in the JDRF Telus Walk to Cure Diabetes. Because every day my son wakes up and he is still Diabetic.

This is our life.

The first thing my son does in the morning is take his blood to check his blood sugar levels. Then we give him two needles. One is a long acting Insulin- slow and steady - helps to keep his blood steady throughout the day. The other is a short acting Insulin - works within 5 minutes and peaks in about 2 hours - basically to handle the carbs he takes in at breakfast. He eats. Off to school.

At lunch, he takes his blood again. Need to make sure he is getting enough Insulin in the morning to keep his blood glucose in an acceptable range. Now that he is getting a little older his window is getting smaller. He should be between 4-8mmol.

After school he has a snack to keep him steady. Even in Diabetes care slow and steady wins the race.

He takes his blood at dinner. We give him another short acting Insulin shot.

Than at around nine o'clock he takes his blood again. He has a snack with another Insulin injection, this time long acting for overnight. 

And this is just a regular day. This doesn't include all the extra blood checks and insulin injections needed when he is sick or going through a growth spurt. Then it gets really interesting. Illness and puberty tend to drive the blood sugar levels up. I usually end up on the phone with his Diabetes nurse. And the body naturally produces sugars as well. There is a lot to contend with.

It can be a difficult thing to control at times. But it is critical that we do.

If he doesn't check his blood and doesn't take Insulin...HE WILL DIE. It's that simple. This is why I want to raise money for research, for a cure. This is why I walk and the people who love us walk with us and pledge our team every year. Because huge strides are made right here in Canada in Diabetes research. Because researchers know and understand a lot about what they need to do. It may actually be possible for a cure in my son's lifetime.

He's an awesome kid. And he usually handles his Diabetes really well.  He is participating in a study to hopefully gain insight into treatments that may positively affect his long term outlook with common complications of Type 1 Diabetes. Thanks to all the research in the past and ongoing my son has excellent medical care for this disease.

Everyday he does his part, whether he feels like it or not. And I will continue to do mine.

If your child has just been diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes I want to tell you...

Put one foot in front of the other, one step at a time.

It seems overwhelming but it will get easier.

Try to think positively. The worst is over. 

This will become your new normal. Promise.

Make healthy choices starting right now. Take your carb counting seriously. 

Don't make excuses for cheating. It's not worth it!!!

ALWAYS show up for your child's three month visit. They need to monitor him/her.

Get your child a MedicAlert bracelet. 

Keep your supplies together. If you have to act quickly, this will help.

Work with your child's doctor(s) and nursing team. They are there to help you. Never be afraid to ask for advice. We are seasoned pros and we still seek advice. 

 Most importantly... YOU CAN DO THIS!