Juvenile Diabetics…Sammy’s Story

Sammy
Christmas 2007

When Sam’s mom and stepfather first began to realize that Sammy had a problem his mother tested his blood sugar. She discovered that she was a diabetic when she was pregnant with Sam. He was drinking water by the gallon, spending a lot of time in the bathroom (go figure) and very emotional. His mother called it having one melt down after another. We had noticed on his last visit to our house that every time he ate anything sweet he would feel sick to his stomach.

So his mother called me that morning to tell me Sam was in the hospital and asked me to call his father, my son, that lives in China. Sammy’s blood sugar was so high it seemed to me that he should have been worse that he was. Thankfully, he did respond to insulin and returned home in a day or two to begin a life of shots, monitoring and exercise. He tests frequently, takes insulin shots and attends a public school where teachers and secretaries have learned to watch him carefully.

Please note warning signs:

Warning signs of type 1 diabetes (these may occur suddenly):
  • Extreme thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Sudden vision changes
  • Sugar in urine
  • Fruity, sweet, or wine-like odor on breath
  • Increased appetite
  • Sudden weight loss
  • Drowsiness, lethargy
  • Heavy, labored breathing
  • Stupor, unconsciousness

Sammy is the coolest little kid you will ever know. When I tell him I don’t know what question to ask but would he please answer one anyway, he always comes up with a great story for me. Sunday he told me about going crabbing. They had great success and Sammy was so proud that he had raised the pots and grabbed the crab. I THREW them into the box Grandma he bragged. He was so brave and proud of himself. When I asked him how he was feeling he simply answered Good. Incidentally, Sam is 9 years old. He carries a backpack with him everywhere. It contains the things necessary to help him survive a crisis and knows more about his illness than any little nine year old should have to know about being sick.

When this type of illness strikes near home, the very foundation of your existence is shaken. Our children are the focus of our lives. We try to fit everything else in around them and keep a good balance of praise/rewards and expectation. But when it comes to their health, we are unprepared and afraid of the consequences. My son and his ex-wife have taken classes to be able to cope with the daily routine needed to keep Sam’s blood sugar under control. I have not had Sam spend the night with us since the diagnosis was made. It has been over a year and I still content myself with spending a lot of time with him when his dad is home. It kills me but I would never put him at risk…and I am not able to cope with it all quite yet!

When I signed up for the Devine Caroline website the other day, they had a series of questions. One of them was, “If you had a million dollars to donate to charity, who would you give it to.” Three guesses what my answer was! Childhood diabetes is a terrible thing but can be controlled up to a point. The Children’s Diabetes Foundation in Denver, CO says:

Type 1 diabetes appears suddenly, most often in children and young adults, and progresses rapidly. In this form, the pancreas ceases to manufacture insulin, a hormone necessary to convert the food we eat into energy for the body. Victims of insulin-dependent diabetes must take one to four daily injections of insulin to stay alive. But insulin is not a cure.

One in 16 people have diabetes in our country and I can’t help but think that, with childhood (and adult) obesity on the rise, we will see more. So research is needed to improve the quality of life for all diabetes sufferer.

When I began checking into charities, I found a website called Charity Navigator Rating system. This website provides statistics on use of charitable funds; i.e. how much goes toward administration, fund raising efforts and actual research. This information seemed to point toward a charity called Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International. Their website has so much good information including types of fundraisers, dealing with diabetes and newsletters. It also included a separate website for children that helps children connect with others that are dealing with the same illness. It is called JDRF Kids Online. One tab sends you to a section where Kids Online can submit art, find a pen pal, communicate with other kids and submit stories.

The JDRFI website also had a section devoted to research. That is where my interest was. It seems that an artificial pancreas is being tested now and could be in production within a few years. Hopefully, other breakthroughs are out there too. All in all I thought the whole website was a great resource for diabetics.

So, while I worry a great deal about Sam and keep him in my thoughts every day, I do see a glimmer of hope. Progress has been made. There are things I think we can do individually. Donations to research and support for children with diabetes will help. Sammy’s mother is a wonderful mom that feeds her family correctly and always has. I can’t imagine that Sammy’s problem was caused by poor diet. I do think, however, that we have put our nations children at risk for other types of diabetes by feeding them the way we do. As a former teacher I know they think and function only as good as their diet and life style allows them to.

I just thought you would want to know!

b

Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International
120 Wall Street
19th Floor
New York, NY 10005
tel: (800) 533-2873
fax: (212) 785-9595

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2 thoughts on “Juvenile Diabetics…Sammy’s Story

  1. it seems like kids should never have to undergo something like this.. but somehow,, they always seem ever so much more accepting of their fate than an adult would be given the same diagnosis… i am not sure what you would call that quality of a child,, but whatever it is,, i wish they would bottle it so we adults could take a sip now and then…..

  2. BarbaraSam seems like a blessed kid, with lots of good family to help him adjust to life with diabetes.Can I point out some other diabetes resources that may be helpful?TuDiabetes.com is a wonderful social networking site for families affected by diabetes. Lots of support and information. They have a group devoted to parents of children with type 1 diabetes.I created the diabetes search engine. It only looks at sites with real and useful information (including a lot of diabetes blogs). There are many, many blogs with useful information. You can get a summary of recent posts on DiabetesDaily.Finally, there’s exciting research into a possible cure that thrills me a lot (I got diabetes as a child of 15, now I’m 51). I’m in the middle of fund-raising for Dr. Denise Faustman, maybe you know folks who like to support me or the lab directly. (It’s always worth asking!)

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