Group supports those affected by diabetes

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Group supports those affected by diabetes

Post by Admin on Sat Oct 21, 2017 9:55 pm

Group supports those affected by diabetes
Madison Theas can't sneak snacks anymore.
This is only one way the 7-year-old St. Joseph girl’s life has changed since she was diagnosed as a type 1 diabetic in November 2012 — and it isn’t only her life that’s been drastically affected.
“Nothing’s the same anymore,” Madison’s mother, Kristy Theas, says. “At the hospital, they come in and say, ‘This is your life now. You have to have insulin to survive.’”

Type I diabetes is an autoimmune disease in which a person’s pancreas stops producing insulin, a hormone that enables the body to get energy from food. Unlike the perhaps more commonly understood type 2 diabetes — which is a metabolic disorder in which a person’s body still produces insulin but is unable to use it effectively — type 1 occurs when the immune system attacks and destroys the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. It’s not entirely known what causes this, although scientists believe both genetic factors and environmental triggers are involved.

Ms. Theas notes that there was no history of diabetes in her family, which made it a shock when Madison ended up in the intensive care unit at Children’s Mercy on Thanksgiving night with her blood glucose level measuring 1,040 milligrams per deciliter (a normal level ranges between 70 and 100). After four days in the hospital, she came home to a life of counting carbohydrates, testing her blood sugar numerous times each day and receiving insulin through a port. And although she and her family have adjusted to these changes, living with them is nowhere near easy.

“I wake up every two hours in the middle of the night to check her blood sugar,” says Ms. Theas, who also has a son born after Madison was diagnosed, as well as a full-time job.

Wanting to find a support system, Ms. Theas reached out to Brenda Lebsack, whom she’d learned also has a daughter with type I diabetes. Ms. Lebsack’s daughter, 10-year-old Shallon Lebsack, was diagnosed in June 2013 after going to the doctor for strep throat. Because she’d lost 13 pounds since an appointment the previous October, office staff ran other tests and delivered shocking news.

“They said, ‘She has strep, but she also has diabetes. You have to get her to Children’s Mercy tonight,’” Ms. Lebsack says, adding that by the next morning, Shallon was giving herself insulin shots — adjusting so quickly her mother deemed her “the best hero I’ve met in my life.”

“In less than 24 hours, you’re in this new world,” Ms. Lebsack adds. “It becomes your new normal.”

Although Shallon handled the new responsibility well, she did have a major scare two months to the day after being diagnosed, with her blood sugar dropping so low she had a seizure and had to be rushed to the hospital. Her mother notes that this likely occurred due to her pancreas being in a “honeymoon phase” that can occur for about six months after a type 1 diabetes diagnosis, during which the organ still produces some insulin and in so doing makes it especially difficult to judge how much insulin should be delivered through a port or injection.

“I don’t remember if I gave myself a shot or not,” Shallon says. “I just remember blacking out.”

For both her and Madison, daily life now includes visiting the school nurse before and after meals and no longer being carefree about what they consume, even during special occasions like school parties.

“It makes me sad on Valentine’s Day,” Madison says, “because all the other kids can have hundreds of pieces of candy, and I can only have one.”

To help ease the feeling of being alone in all this, both for their daughters and themselves, Ms. Theas and Ms. Lebsack recently formed the group St. Joseph Parents of Type I Diabetics. The plan is for the group to meet for activities such as skating, miniature golf and swimming — thereby offering a social outlet for kids and an opportunity for parents to talk to each other about the challenges they face.

The women also hope to organize a walk that will raise funds for diabetes research, as well as to present information to the St. Joseph School District school board on a measure called Cade’s Law that encourages training employees of public schools in the care needed for students with diabetes.

With approximately 80 people per day diagnosed with type I diabetes — more than half of them children — they know support like this is needed. For more information about the group, visit its page on Facebook or contact Ms. Theas at [url=mailto:kristytheas@yahoo.com]kristytheas@yahoo.com[/url] or Ms. Lebsack at [url=mailto:balebsack@stjoelive.com]balebsack@stjoelive.com[/url].

“We know next week, there’s going to be someone else in St. Joseph diagnosed,” Ms. Lebsack says. “We just want them to know we’re here for each other.”




Erin Wisdom can be reached at erin.wisdom@newspressnow.com. Follow her on Twitter: @SJNPWisdom.
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