Monday, November 3, 2008

November is National Diabetes Awareness Month

I started this blog, not that long ago, to share my love of vintage items. It was never my intent that this would become a diabetes blog. But diabetes is a huge part of my life. With November being National Diabetes Awareness Month, I hope sharing our experience may help others.

In January of 2007, I began noticing my daughter, then 12 years old, always had a water bottle with her. Water was usually her drink of choice, so at first I didn’t think much of it. Always a picky eater, she usually skipped breakfast. Now she was eating toast and even finishing the crusts. She’d come home from school and down 5 or 6 bowls of cereal in one sitting. And still eat all her dinner and a huge nighttime snack.

It wasn’t until she was wrapped in a towel getting into the shower that I noticed how incredibly skinny she was. It was at this point I knew what we were dealing with. A quick google search confirmed my suspicions and the next morning I took her to see the pediatrician.

January 22, 2007. I will never, ever forget. My daughter was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes, an autoimmune disease where a person’s body attacks the insulin producing cells in the pancreas. The pancreas ceases to produce insulin that converts sugars to energy.

We quickly left the doctors office and were immediately admitted to the hospital. Her A1C hemoglobin was 14.7. This equates to a blood sugar average of more then 360 for the past three months. (normal blood sugar is 70 to 100) However the doctors felt she only had diabetes for a few weeks. That means her blood glucose numbers were incredibly high. We were blessed to get her to the hospital when we did.

At the hospital we learned to test her blood sugars, count carbohydrates, and give insulin injections. We stayed there for 5 days until her blood glucose was stable enough to go home.

Left untreated, this is a very serious, life threatening disease. Most people are admitted to the hospital at diagnosis with Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) which can lead to coma and then death. So please never brush off these symptoms. A person does not have to have all of them

Symptoms of Type 1 Diabetes:

Increased thirst and frequent urination
Extreme hunger
Weight loss
Blurred vision
Sweet smelling breath

And again, Type 1 Diabetes is an autoimmune disease. No one knows for sure what makes the body attack the pancreas, but it’s most likely a combination of genetics and a virus. It is not caused by being overweight or by eating too much sugar. It can strike anyone at any age, from babies to older adults.

T1 Diabetics monitor their blood sugar many times a day. My daughter tests 10 to 15 times per day. We match her insulin intake to the amount of carbs she eats. Almost all of her food is weighed or measured. She can eat whatever she wants. Sugar is not a no-no. Just like everyone, it should be eaten in moderation. But insulin does not know the difference between the carbs in an apple or the carbs in a candy bar. Diet and exercise will not “cure” Type 1 diabetes. But it certainly helps the insulin to work better. Insulin is not a cure, but life support. Without it, Type 1 diabetics will die.

Type 1 diabetes can not be “controlled,” at best, it can be managed. You can do everything exactly the same from day to day, but never get the same result. That’s just the way the body responds. We have good days and bad days despite our best efforts. But my daughter is a strong, intelligent young woman who handles this all with more grace and dignity then her mom ever would. I’m so very proud of her. It’s a lousy, crappy disease, but it will not get her down. She is smart, pretty, flirty, strong, and one awesome basketball player. She just happens to have diabetes. It does not define her. She is my hero.


  1. Oh Holly........that brought tears to my eyes. You are a wonderful mother and she is such a great strong gal with a wonderful future....I'm so proud of both of you!

  2. Holly....what a wonderful blog post. I am so glad you were a smart mom and took your daughter to the doctor immediately when you noticed her symptoms. It sounds like she as a wonderful attitude about taking care of herself. Hugs to you both!


  3. This is a great blog Holly. I learned so much. You are a wonderful Mom and you have an amazing daughter. God bless and keep you all.