Type 1 Diabetes

Define Chronic Illness; Not my Joey

DSC_0136Type 1 Diabetes; How do I hate thy? Let me count thy ways! 11:00 pm: 340 ways, 2:00 am: 200 ways!

There are so many reasons that we need a cure for Type 1 Diabetes.  For me personally,  I’d love a cure because I am tired. Chronic illness takes a toll on the entire family. We all deal with it in different ways.

In households across America there are thousands of families that have been dealt the unfortunate hand of chronic illness.  I looked up the definition of Chronic Illness.  It’s  defined as any disorder that persists over a long period and affects physical, emotional, intellectual, vocational, social, or spiritual functioning.

There’s no doubt that Type 1 meets all those requirements.  Let’s start with the longevity part, well since there isn’t a cure, I think we got that one covered.  It certainly affects the body physically; no insulin, no life.  Highs that make you feel sick, and lows that take a toll.  If you manage your diabetes well, keep your blood sugars in range, you will live a long healthy life.   However, that being said, things can still occur.  Low blood sugar can cause coma, and death, high blood sugar can cause seizure and death.  So sometimes, even with everything going great, things happen.  The thing to remember about type 1 is that there is no rhyme or reason for the changes that happen; you can be in perfect range one minute, and completely the opposite the next.

Emotionally it’s a roller coaster. Especially in the teenage years. The last thing a teen wants is to be different from his/her peers! So a lot of times a teen will forgo testing blood sugar, thinking, “I’ll do it after lunch, when no one is around.” Guess what, they forget, and are now very high which can affect learning! And behavior.

Joey is 12, a preteen. When he is high, I can tell because he is sassy! I’ve gotten my share of looks while at the store saying “you better be high right now, or you are in big trouble!” I am constantly harping at him to check his blood sugar, takes a toll on us emotionally and on our relationship. I don’t like yelling at him, but frustration sometimes gets the best of this mamma!

Type 1 is challenging at school because if Joey is high, over 250, he shouldn’t take a test because he most likely can’t concentrate, and may fail the test.  He shouldn’t partake in gym class, shouldn’t run on the playground!  He has to be very careful where exercise is concerned, because if he is over 250, he should take a test to check Ketones.  They are present in the urine when he hasn’t had enough insulin, hence the higher blood sugar number.  His liver will allow still more glucose to be released and the blood glucose can become even higher. His cells, lacking insulin, are still without the glucose they need. His body will begin to break down fat to supply energy. This is called ketosis. In kids with Type 1,  it can progress to Ketoacidosis and lead to coma and death if not treated immediately. So he really needs to heed the warnings of exercising with high blood sugar!

I am just starting to see Joey’s attitude change a little, Socially. Because his school is from K4 – 8th grade, he is very comfortable at his school. He pretty much knows everyone.  When he meets new kids, like his new basketball teammates, he isn’t so comfortable. It will take a few times on the bench checking his blood sugar in front of the team, before he feels comfortable. I am always anxious for him, until everyone knows. Even parents in the stands wonder what that kid is doing on the bench! Is that blood?

Spiritually Joey is a believer. He attends a Catholic school, attends mass at school once a week and then on the weekend with us. Believe me, I know that just because someone attends church doesn’t mean that they are “God-like.” But Joey is truly a compassionate person, who loves God. We believe that God has a plan for us, maybe his plan for Joey is to find a cure for type 1! Or maybe it’s for Joey to be an inspiration to others. One thing for sure is that we don’t blame God for Type 1, but we do pray for a cure!

As far as an occupation for Joey, Type 1 will prevent him from certain vocations. He cannot be a train engineer like his dad, or a police officer, fireman, pilot, or enter the military! Oh darn on that last one! :). Aside from those limitations the sky is the limit for Joey! He will be successful in anything he does, he’s already proven that he has what it takes to get what he wants! Here are a few of his accomplishments this far:

Joey with Jake Byrne
Joey with Jake Byrne

Met Jake Byrne (his favorite football player and now his mentor.)

Is the 2013 American Diabetes Association’s Youth Ambassador.

Met with lawmakers at our State Capitol to encourage continued support of funds for diabetes research.

Has teamed up with Omnipod’s PR team; working together has brought great opportunities.  They love how active and involved Joey is in the community so they find wonderful opportunities for him, like reaching out to Fox 6 Sports Reporter Tom Pipines.  Joey will be featured in a segment on Fox 6 about living and playing sports with Type 1 Diabetes.   Tom Pipines actually came to our home to interview Joey.  Our  friend Jake Byrne will also be featured.

Joey Spoke at the ADA Tour de Cure kick-off party and at the ADA Family Link event.  And will participate in the Tour de Cure on June 15th.

As you can see, we don’t worry about Joey finding the perfect occupation, I have a feeling it will find him!

Hug someone with a chronic illness today! And their caregivers!

If you would like to Join our Tour de Cure team, or donate to Joey’s ride, please see the link:  http://main.diabetes.org/site/TR?px=6180704&pg=personal&fr_id=8638&et=Zc5EmX6CaZ2mvqgrNQzcgQ&s_tafId=443296

20130415-210453.jpg
2013 Youth Ambassador’s Joey and nephew Cooper.
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