A Mom Shares Her Son's Story - Type 1 Diabetes

November is Diabetes Awareness Month.  Personally I know what it is to suffered from Diabetes.

I was diagnosed in my late 40's with Type 2 Diabetes, but fortunately with a modification in my diet, exercise, and losing weight, I was able to reverse this diagnosis. Today, I don't take any medication for it, and I am able to control it by watching my nutrition, my weight, and exercising.  

But lets talk about Type 1 Diabetes.  According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA) Type 1 diabetes (T1D) is an autoimmune disease that occurs when a person’s pancreas stops producing insulin, the hormone that controls blood-sugar levels.

Type 1 diabetes (sometimes known as juvenile diabetes) affects children and adults, though people can be diagnosed at any age. T1D must be managed with the use of insulin—either via injection or insulin pump. 

In the US 1.6 million Americans are living with T1D, including about 200,000 youth. Unfortunately approximately 5 million people in the U.S. are expected to have T1D by the year 2050, including nearly 600,000 youth. 

I had the privileged to interview my friend Katiria.  She wanted to share her son Ryan's story with Type 1 Diabetes to help bring awareness on the disease.  So here is the interview:

How old is Ryan? 

Ryan is going to be 16 years old on November 23rd, 2020. 

How old was he when he was diagnosed, and what was his official diagnosis?

He was diagnosed on 07/07/12, when he was 7 years old, and his official diagnosis is Type 1 Diabetes.

What were his symptoms prior the diagnosis?

He urinated a lot and drank lots of cold water with lots of ice. He used to say "put lots lots lots of ice please"  he complained about feeling like he was burning inside.  He also lost his appetite.
As a family how did you respond to his diagnosis?
He was hospitalized for seven days to be able to stabilize him, and really know what was going on.  It was a very stressful time for all of us including him, but we held it together for his sake, and we were able to come through.  He was diagnosed on 7/7, at the age of 7, and was hospitalized for 7 days - I am not particularly a big fan of the number 7. šŸ˜’

Will he always need medications and/or insulin?
He will need insulin for life since his pancreas doesn't produce it.  His sugar levels go high and low.  For the high level he needs insulin, that usually happens with food.   The low levels are very dangerous since he feels tired, and all he wants to do is lay down and sleep.  Doctors have told us that people experiencing this can be life threatening so he needs to ingest sugar at those particular times to bring his blood sugar levels up.  
Does he need to check his blood sugar - if so how often?
He needs to check his blood sugar before and after he eats and snacks -  which is approximately 10 times a day.
Does he follow a special diet?
He is not on any special diet right at this time since he is still growing.  The ideal will be no carbs, but he can't stop eating them right now because he is still growing.  As an adult we can stop eating carbs, and that will help a lot, but for now he can't do that.
What would you advise parents with children with Type 1 Diabetes?
My advice will be to be patient and understanding with their kids because it is very difficult for them mentally and physically. 
Editor's Note:  I want to thank my friend Kati for sharing Ryan's story.  I know it took a lot of courage to do so, and I appreciate that she trusted me enough to tell it here.
I can understand how difficult it is as a family to navigate and understand this illness that requires constant management, as well as it is to explain it to a young 7 year old.  Kudos to you Kati, your husband and the rest of the family.
To Ryan - what can I say? - you were such a little warrior at 7, and you continue to be one by facing challenges with courage and perseverance, and not letting it stand in your way of achieving your goals.  - I wish you nothing but the best.  
As you turn 16 years old in a few days, I hope that all your dreams come true. Please know-- that you are not here by chance, but you are here for a purpose. Happy Birthday!!

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