Raising Awareness, One Step at a Time
Raising Awareness, One Step at a Time - Jacob's Story
Jacob (“Jake”, or “Jakey” as his Mom calls him), Matthew Erickson is an active, happy, sweet child. Jake loves sports of any kind, animals, cars, trucks and playing in general. He also attends the 4 year olds class at Cascade Christian School 3 days a week.
Jake was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when he was 2 ½. He was really sick for a couple weeks and we even took him to the doctors and they failed to diagnose him, initially. He was exhibiting the common signs of diabetes – excessive liquid consumption, urinating excessively, loss of energy and loss of weight. He is a very high energy and social boy so it was very unusual for him to be so inactive. We ended up taking him to the emergency room 2 days after the Doctor visit because he was so sick and looked so thin, and he was vomiting, we just knew something was terribly wrong.
Our fears were confirmed, at the ER as the doctor gave Jake a blood sugar test and his blood sugar level was well over 600. (Normal levels should be around 100).
His diagnosis was a week before and we spent the next 5 days at the hospital, learning exactly what Diabetes was, and how to manage his health going forward.
To manage his diabetes he gets around 11-15 finger pokes a day to check his blood sugar levels. He also gets 5 - 7 shots of insulin a day in his arm, leg, bottom, or stomach. The shot sites also have to be rotated daily to avoid calluses and hard lumps forming in the shot area, which will affect the insulin and how it will effectively disperse into his body. He also must be checked at least once a night at 2:00 am to make sure he is still level. If he is too high or low it requires immediate attention, which means we could be up the rest of the night checking him, until his blood sugar levels are controlled.
When he’s at school Miss Sandy and Miss Debbie have taken on the huge responsibility of monitoring Jake. He loves his classmates and the teachers. His Grandma Sue lives 1 ½ miles away and is on stand-by, in case he does need a shot or has an emergency.
Type 1 diabetes is when your pancreas stops working and no longer produces enough insulin for your body. It can take an unknown amount of time for it to completely stop producing insulin. So when you factor in his activities, diet, the weather, mood, bad dreams, a bath, or even just his body growing and changing, you still get times when the only explanation to a sudden low is that the pancreas has kicked in and now has double dosed his little body with insulin, causing a sudden “Crash”.
Jake has already had 4 episodes of “Crashing”. He starts to stumble around and then his body goes lifeless. He becomes scared, sick and cries – but he cannot swallow or speak clearly and is fighting us to hold him still, so we can give him the emergency shot, which contains glucagon. Glucagon is a hormone made in the pancreas, like insulin. However, it has the opposite effect of insulin. It raises the blood sugar level rather than lowering it. The shot is a large needle and is very painful. Sometimes the shot will cause him to start vomiting due to the sudden change in his body. After about 10 minutes, which seems more like hours, he starts to calm down and feel better. His strength comes back and then wants to go play, but we want to keep him settled for a bit, if not for our own peace of mind, but to make sure he has fully recovered and his blood sugar is back under control.
It is a never ending torture for us to watch him deal with this 24/7, even though he is so brave about it all. He starts his morning with a finger poke and 2 shots. One that is for the slow releasing insulin and one to treat the high and/or breakfast he will eat.
Even though he is “use to it” the finger pokes still hurt at times. His little finger tips look like Swiss Cheese and the shots are still painful. He is very brave but there are times that he hides to avoid them and cries after the shot(s).
Our hope is to raise awareness for more support and donations to find a cure, but also to raise awareness of the signs of diabetes and the daily struggles that are involved in a diabetic lifestyle.
This is our 3rd year involved with The JDRF Walk to Cure Diabetes as “Jake’s Crew”. Jake’s Dad, Bobby, has been asked by the JDRF to be the Family Team Chairman due to his involvement the past 2 years and the help he has provided to them and other families involved in the Walk.
Jake’s Crew (www.jakescrew.com) has raised over $15,000 toward diabetes research in the past 2 years. This year they are hoping to raise $15,000 by participating on May 31st in the Walk to Cure Diabetes.