March 25, 2008

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 Christmas 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.

March 02, 2008

Thinking About the Pump - Nicole's Story

Thinking About the Pump - Nicole's Story

Diabetes has been a part of my life since age 9. I am now - well, almost 34 soon.

I remember seeing my father blind and diabetic when I was very little. Of course things have certainly changed as for blindness and lose of limbs as you used to hear so much about. But remembering my dad get an insulin shot in his arm from my grandma was torture to me at that young age. I remember saying to myself "There is no way I could do that or have that happen to me."

My grandma first had the inclination I was diabetic while visiting she checked my urine. She told my mom only to have her say "There is no way she is diabetic"

After being taken into the hospital of a blood sugar of over 1000 mg/dl. I was taken into a room full of 20 interns and they told me I was diabetic. I remember my aunt just crying as she looked at my dad standing there with his red cane and sunglasses. Giving insulin shots to my mom-that was fun! But not when they over-dosed me with someone else's insulin and I went almost out of it; seeing myself on the ceiling and telling my mom she was poisoning me.

Oh, to hide it in school was painful trying to sit in class and wait out a low blood sugar until the bell rang. Or the name calling "Diabetic Dog, Demon" Ouch that hurt.

For a longtime I did not take care of myself thinking I would not end up like my dad or others. Only to be taken in for a spinal tap and more to rule out MS, did get Optic Neuritis.Thinking about an insulin pump?

Finally, got on track and have my A1C to 6%-7% all during both pregnancies. But with my last pregnancy I did have a lot of eye damage - retinopathy and plenty of laser surgery at Mayo Clinic. We think it is getting better - Dr. Pach says it is. And that laser surgery does hurt! But it was worth it to have my beautiful baby boy.

Now, I am perplexed if I should try out the Minimed pump. In the past, I had tried the Ominpod - kind of bulky but nice to be wireless. Still, cannot shut the thing off.  It's buzzing in the garage.

Would love some advice! 

December 17, 2007

Sugar Land: Brandon's Story

I am a Texas Fireman with Type 1 Diabetes. I currently hold numerous Certifications on a State and Federal Level. I have been in the fire service for over eight years and currently employed by a Department in Texas. I manage my Diabetes by proper diet, exercise and educating myself with the disease.

I was hired in Aug. 03 by a well known City Fire Department after I passed a written test and a Fitness/Physical test as well as a Full City Doctor eval. At time of application and at my Dr. Visit I disclosed my Diabetes and it appeared to not be a problem. After almost two years of employment, I had one single incident at the station where I had a low blood sugar reaction and went home sick. I did not get transported by Ambulance and drove myself home.

I was requested to see the City Dr. when I returned to work. The Dr. Visit was only 12 minutes long, no testing, blood work or even a simple talk. The Dr. came into the office and said "The City said you have Diabetes and you can't be a Firefighter". I was sent back to the Fire Administration where the Chief moved me to the Inspector/Investigator division.

I filed a complaint with the EEOC and went through the Texas Chain of Complaints. The EEOC found after weeks of investigations and interview's that the City violated the American with Disabilities Act of 1990 and found areas of Discrimination, Retaliation, and a Violation of FMLA. EEOC advised the City to reach a just resolution in the matter which the City turned there head.

I obtained a Lawyer and filled a case in Federal Courts while the Civil Rights Division gave us permission to file a suit against the City. The American Diabetes Association has laid the ground work for my case with the research and commitment to Diabetes.

The City was offering my job back but wanted some stipulations with my employment that were not reasonable. From day one, I simply wanted to work and do what I have been trained to do so well.

I feel everyone should be treated fairly regardless of Age, Sex, Color or Disability's. If you pass the required testing phase and you can perform the required job duties, you should be able to work.

Unfair Discrimination and blanket ban against Diabetes is uncalled for in the Workplace. Diabetes is a way of life that can be controlled.

Thanks for reading and everything you do.

Editor's Note:  For more on Brandon's crusade to raise awareness, visit the ABC13 site. 

October 15, 2007

Life is Different, but Beautiful - Lisa's and Isobel's Story

IsobelI am the proud mother of a young diabetic. My daughter, Isobel, was diagnosed in 2001 when she was only 7 years old. Going back to the day she was diagnosed and the first months afterwards is not pleasant. She was in Michigan visiting her father. Her father and now step-mother brought her to the doctor to treat a yeast infection. As you can imagine, there are only a few reasons why a young child would have a yeast infection – and diabetes is one of them. Her blood was recorded around 600 and she was admitted to the hospital. I then received a phone call from my ex-husband telling me to sit down. At that moment, I was horrified just thinking of all the possibilities of what could have gone wrong. When he told me diabetes, I was dumbfounded. I didn’t know anything about it – even though my own father has Type 2. My first concern was that I was in Virginia and she was in Michigan. I had to get there. I immediately flew to Michigan. When I arrived at the hospital, I was frozen with fear. I knew I had to be strong for Isobel. When I saw her little body in the hospital bed, my initial emotion was relief. She was alive – she was ok . I had no idea what we were in for...

The meetings with the doctors and dieticians were leaving me confused. How is it possible that a dietician could ask me what she typically ate for breakfast (granola bars, French toast, pancakes, etc.) and then not make any changes to her diet? This was a major red flag to me. I am not a doctor, but I knew enough to know that a diabetic can’t process sugar or carbohydrates like someone with a functioning pancreas. I couldn’t understand how this dietician could not make adjustments to her existing diet. It caused a lot of confusion during an already very difficult time. But it would later be this confusion that catapulted us to search deeply for different answers.

The months after Isobel and I returned home to Virginia were like a nightmare. Isobel definitely showed more strength than I did! Being so young, she completely trusted me to take care of her. I remember her telling me that she was scared to go to sleep because she didn’t know if she would wake up the next morning or not. That was heart breaking – but at that moment, I vowed to make her life the best it could possibly be. No child should worry about things like that. I had to find a way to live with this disease peacefully.

We got situated with a local doctor to whom I expressed my concern over the regimen she was placed on in Michigan. I expressed concern that her blood sugar levels would go from in the 30’s to in the 400’s. I further expressed my concern that the nurses were not phased by this. This doctor wasn’t much help in fixing the situation, but he was patient with me (usually frantic and crying during appointments) and always listened to my pleas.

I was emotionally and physically exhausted – and I knew there had to be a better way. I spent every day doing research about this disease online. I read constantly and learned. After about 4 months of struggling, and a decrease from 10% A1C to only a 9.2% A1C, I confided my woes to a diabetic counselor. She led me in the direction of Dr. Bernstein, a doctor out of NY (our home state!) and a doctor who successfully treats himself for this very disease. He changed our lives for the better and we are grateful to him for the knowledge that he imparted to us.

One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned through this is to be thankful for everything we have. I have tried to teach Isobel to be grateful – grateful to Dr. Bernstein who has helped us achieve a 5.6% A1C and who has taught us to strive for even better than that. Grateful that this disease isn’t terminal. Grateful that she is a face who can encourage others to attack this disease head on. Isobel is stunning, bright, and HEALTHY. I couldn’t be more proud of her.

When Isobel accomplishes something in her life (a good grade, finally nailing that back hand spring that she has been working on), we don’t go out for an ice cream sundae. Instead, we stroll hand in hand, soaking in our surroundings and being thankful for life.

Life is different for us, but its working … working beautifully. I want to encourage others not to give up, not to feel hopeless – but most importantly, to strive for an A1C that is close to that of a person without diabetes.

Thank you for the opportunity to share our story. I hope that those reading will visit our website and read more of our journey at www.libertybella.com.

October 01, 2007

Lost But Now Found - Janet's Story

I have had type 2 diabetes for over 20 years.  I use diet and exercise to take care of my bloodsugars but lately I've been having high morning numbers.  Exercise is a problem for me but I do a lot to stay fit around the house.  I could lose some weight but I'm working on making improvements on my numbers all around.  I do all my own housework and take care of my dog and my husband ... that keeps me moving and helps my blood sugars stay pretty controlled.

I've done a lot of my diabetes care by myself, and with my doctor, but the past few years have given me lots of websites that helped me feel less alone with my diabetes.  Internet sites like Six Until Me, DiabetesMine, and dLife have shown me that there are lots of other PWDs who want to talk to other diabetics.  I have seen lots of information on different meds and things that can help me take care of my diabetes and I've talked to my doctor about things I have read about.  Through the internet and websites like this one, I know that there are more things I can do to take care of myself and to help take care of my family, too.  Diabetes doesn't mean I have to be alone or uncontrolled - there are always people to help me and people who will stand by me, even if they don't know me, but the common bond of diabetes brings us together.

Thanks for letting me share my story and I wish everyone good health!

Tell Your Story!


You may not have time to commit to a blog. You may not have a desire to share so much of your life online. Maybe you're looking advice or comfort from other people living with diabetes. Or maybe you just want the opportunity to tell your story.

Here on Six Until Me's "Your Story" page, you have the opportunity to share your voice with the diabetes community. Write whatever you'd like - send in a frustrated rant, an emotional release, or just a "hello." Feel free to submit pictures, videos, or audio files.

I have had the pleasure of using this blog to share my story. Now is your chance to tell Your Story.

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Please be advised that the opinions expressed with the Stories do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the owner of Six Until Me. No information on this site should be taken as medical advice. If you have a medical question or emergency, please consult your doctor.

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