Tell us about that organization and why you support it.
I support JDRF because I want a cure for T1D. I want my child to have a life without daily finger pricks and insulin injections, and the complications from highs and lows. JDRF is the only organization with scientific resources and regulatory influence (think FDA) and a working plan to better treat, prevent and eventually cure T1D. The advancements that have been made are incredible and the JDRF scientists are saying we are right around the corner from some pretty big game-changers.
2. Clear up a big issue. There’s a lot of confusion about T1D and T2D. I know in the past you’ve found people to be ignorant of the difference, which is a HUGE difference.
First a little general information to set the stage: Our bodies need insulin so the glucose in our bloodstream can enter our cells for growth and energy. After eating, the pancreas automatically releases an adequate amount of insulin to transport the blood glucose into the cells, which results in lower blood sugar levels. When glucose in the bloodstream does not enter the cells (at all or not enough), glucose builds up until levels are too high, which is very dangerous and can be deadly.
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease in which the person’s own body has destroyed insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas. Quite simply, a person with T1D does not produce insulin. The only treatment for T1D is insulin via injections or through a pump delivery system.
Type 2 diabetes is generally one of two problems, and sometimes both:
- Not enough insulin is being produced.
- The insulin is not working properly – also known as insulin resistance.The majority of people (but not all) who develop type 2 diabetes are and have been overweight and unfit for sometime. T2D is often treated with pills and less often insulin.I feel that the confusion between the different types of diabetes happens because approximately 85% of all diabetes patients have type 2. When you combine this with shows like the Biggest Loser that mention “diabetes” without the type specification, it’s easy to see why no one knows the difference. Education is key to helping people understand what diabetes is and how type 1 and type 2 are different.
3. Tell me a little about the crazy kid of yours, Stone. What’s life like for a kid with T1D (Type 1 Diabetes).
Stone is really good kid. He’s pretty typical for a 17 year old high school junior. He plays tennis, he likes video games and technology. The only thing that is different for Stone than other kids is he has T1D. This is where things get complicated.
Before he eats he has to check his blood glucose by pricking his finger and using a glucometer. Then based on his blood sugar and what he’s planning on eating and drinking he has to determine how much insulin he needs, which requires an injection in either his arm, stomach, or thigh. For every 8 carbohydrates he consumes he gets one unit of insulin.
Let’s talk about milk. What teenaged boy doesn’t drink milk? Stone drinks about 4 gallons a week by himself. Most kids would grab a glass, fill it up and go on their way. Stone knows that each cup of milk has 11 carbs. Before he can have a glass of milk he needs a shot of insulin to prevent his blood sugar from being high.
Stone was in 8th grade. Throughout the school year there were many occasions that he called either before lunch or right after lunch saying that he wasn’t feeling well. We live a mile and half from the middle school and my husband works from home. We thought he was looking for an excuse to not be at school because his symptoms were never more than he didn’t feel good. Finally we got a letter from the school saying he had a lot of unexcused absences (who knew that when you check you child out of school it wasn’t excused) but we still didn’t make the connection.
One night Stone starting throwing up. This kid has never been a pucker and we chalked it up to the stomach flu. I was afraid we were going to be in trouble if he had another unexcused absence so my husband took him to the doctor. While there they checked his blood and it was well over 400 — it should be between 80 and 120 — They sent him straight to the ER. He had diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). This potentially fatal complication is often the first symptom of undiagnosed diabetes. Due to a lack of insulin, the body starts to burn fatty acids and produces acidic ketone bodies.
I was about 40 minutes away when my husband called to tell me what was happening I rushed to the ER. I was scared for Stone, but I also knew he was being taken care of. At this point, I had so many questions. I didn’t really understand what it all meant. I remember asking a nurse at the hospital if he would need insulin shots. I figured out quickly we all had a lot to learn.
Stone was transferred to a children’s hospital in Orlando and spent a few days in ICU before he was moved to a regular room. He was really a trooper through the whole hospital stay. With the insulin he so desperately needed he was feeling better and back to his old self.
The doctors said that he most likely had diabetes for six months. All of those times he wasn’t feeling well at school, he was truly sick. Talk about feeling like Mom of the Year.
From the very beginning, Stone has been amazing. He manages his new lifestyle very well. Checks his blood and gives himself insulin injections when he needs to. I really couldn’t be prouder of the way he deals with T1D. Does he have highs and lows? Of course he does, but he works hard to try to keep things in range and that’s tough work for a teenager.