Sunday, November 13, 2016

Making A Difference Starts With You – End Juvenile Diabetes

Mackenzie Wallace
I recently wrote a post for a good friend’s daughter who was diagnosed with juvenile arthritis. I really like knowing my writing can be used for a somewhat “higher purpose”. So, I’ve decided to use my blog to highlight a good cause every month (or more frequently if needed). 

This blog is also a personal story, and it is one that has impacted my family. Two years ago right after Christmas, my niece Mackenzie (who was about to turn 6) was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes (T1D). T1D means the pancreas does not produce (or stops producing) insulin, which the body needs to regulate blood sugar.

From the moment of that T1D diagnosis, life as everyone knew it changed.

What happens to a family when there’s a child with T1D? What does it mean?

It means thousands of finger pricks & constant “testing” of the blood sugar…

It means giving insulin shots morning, noon & night (especially the middle of the night.)

It means expensive “pods” that monitor & track the rise and fall of blood sugar every minute of the day…

It means counting carbs (carbs = sugar and that can be bad)

It means calculating how much insulin to give before every meal…and hoping you guess right…

It means hoping she actually eats what you give her because the insulin is already “on board”…

Worrying when she gets too low…

Worrying when she gets too high…

Why doesn't the dose I gave yesterday work today?

Where’s your phone Kenzie? (an iPhone app is connected to the pod and it tells whether she’s going up or coming down, but she has to be close enough to the phone in order for it to “read” her.)

Why is she so high?

What did we give her last time? Was it too much? Too little?

When do you trust her to give her own injections?

What’s going to happen when she wants to have children?

T1D is an exhausting and emotionally draining. It means constant worry and badgering about testing the blood sugar. Do you think a 7-yr-old wants to stop playing so she can go prick her finger? The entire day revolves around her diet and shots. She now has a second pod that is supposed to sense her blood sugar and actually give insulin, if needed, but even that must be monitored and calibrated several times a day. And it requires a level of competence that can be overwhelming. Plus, it is EXPENSIVE. Very expensive. The monitors, the injectors, the insulin, the pods, the test strips, and those fancy pods need to be replaced regularly.

Honestly, I think my brother and sister-in-law are heroes, especially my sister-in-law who has to go Mackenzie’s school every day at lunch in order to give a shot. I don’t think anyone has slept a full night through in these 2 years. My parents recently kept Mackenzie over the weekend while my brother and sister-in-law were out of town. My mom told me we should all thank God for a healthy pancreas. The struggle to keep her blood sugar “normal” is just that…and minute-by-minute struggle. What works one day, won’t the next. There is no normal day when it comes to T1D. 

The reason I’m sharing this now is because November is National Diabetes Awareness Month.

I want to spotlight the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, which is working to find a cure for T1D. They are doing some amazing things, including the development of an artificial pancreas.

I’d love to ask you to donate to JDRF now so that one day, no child will have to be stuck with needles or take insulin or “count carbs” on a daily basis. You can donate in the name of Mackenzie Wallace so that you can show your support for her and the hundreds of thousands of children who must endure a similar struggle.

Mackenzie Wallace


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