Thanksgiving weekend of 2007 our family was visiting relatives in San Francisco when Harrison came down with a terrible virus. It seemed to be a strain of the flu and he was completely run down and exhausted. He didn’t bounce back as quickly as he normally did. About three weeks later he was still not himself. It seemed he could not drink enough water and he appeared to be losing weight. We had a feeling he might have diabetes, as one of our friends had a daughter with it and we knew the symptoms. We were in denial, hoping he would get better. Finally we realized it was not going away and he was not looking well. He had dark circles under his eyes, very dry hands and appeared to be losing weight.
We took him to our pediatrician where they tested his urine and his blood sugar. Before we knew it, the doctor told us that Harrison had juvenile diabetes and we would need to head down to the Barbara Davis Center where they were waiting for us. It still brings tears to my eyes remembering those words. I was so scared. Harrison had just turned five years old in October. He was an athletic, happy and otherwise healthy little boy. What did this mean? Should I fear for his life? My sweet baby.
We drove to the BDC where we were greeted by a welcome staff of doctors, nurses, nutritionists and counselors. We were educated immediately and Harrison received his first insulin shot. It was such an out of body experience, but the staff at BDC understood this and took such great care of us. We learned so much during the initial three-day education. We also learned that if Harrison takes good care of himself he would live a long and healthy life.
It’s been almost five years and I am happy to say that Harrison is still our sweet, athletic, funny and wonderful boy. He has done an amazing job taking care of himself and allowing us to help him. Our friends, family, doctors and nurses have all been so supportive. He is growing normally, eating well and thriving in school and in life. He is a straight A student and a hard working athlete. He enjoys skiing, basketball, tennis, golf, lacrosse, football and a good dodge ball game!
Hi, my name is Dillon Hunter, I am 13 years old and have had Type 1 Diabetes for more than 10 years. My diagnosis wasn’t very dramatic or remarkable. We were living in Phoenix, Arizona at the time and my parents recognized my symptoms of extreme thirst and frequent urination.
I went to my pediatrician and she diagnosed my diabetes by doing a simple urine test. One month before being diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes I had been sick with a flu virus, which some doctors think is part of the puzzle. I was admitted to the hospital that day for three nights, not because I was yet seriously ill from my diabetes, but because the doctors and nurses needed to teach my parents how to take care of me.
Now, at the age of 13, I try to be responsible and take care of myself most of the time, though I still need plenty of reminders. I check my blood sugar 8 – 10 times a day and give myself insulin through my pump anytime I eat. Despite my wishes I never get a day off. My mom hasn’t slept through the night in 10 years, even though I know that’s what moms do… I’m sure it must be hard.
I am lucky to have The Barbara Davis Center in Denver where I live because I know that people travel from all over the world to the center to get care from the amazing doctors who work there. Not only are the doctors and researchers at the Barbara Davis Center trying to find a cure for Type 1 Diabetes, but they are also working hard to find a way to prevent the disease in people like my little brother Daulton who is at high risk of developing Type 1. I’m grateful for all they do at The Barbara Davis Center and know they will help me live a long healthy life.
I have had diabetes since I was eight-years-old. It was miserable when I first got diagnosed because I didn’t like all the finger pokes and shots. Now, I am pretty proud of the fact that I have diabetes. It makes me unique. I have gotten to know my school nurses better and I have such a special friendship with them. I know they would do anything to help me. They are so nice and fun to be around. They are some of the most important people in my life.
I am the oldest of six children and things are really fun at our house. We have 35 acres of land and over 40 animals. In our free time the kids and I like to play with the animals, ride bikes, read, play sports, write stories, and jump on our trampoline. I play the piano, and I love basketball. My best friends are my siblings and we are all very close. Even though I have diabetes, I can still do everything that I want to do.
When my sister, Brittley, got diabetes three and a half years after me it was just a shock. I never expected her to get it, too. Brittley and I have a lot of fun having diabetes together because we help each other remember to check our blood and we both do the same things. I don’t feel as alone and I can talk to Brittley about how I feel because she has felt it too.
I love going to the Barbara Davis Center with Brittley and my other sister, Sadie. Sadie is helping find a cure for diabetes. Sadie sometimes wishes she could have diabetes like us. We love seeing our doctor, Dr. Maahs and our nurse, Cindy Cain. Everyone there is so happy and nice. Diabetes has helped me become stronger. It has taught me responsibility. I love diabetes, even when it gets really hard at times.
I love having diabetes! The first time I got diabetes was when I was at my brother’s scout meeting. I had to go to the bathroom like four times and I got a whole bunch of drinks from the drinking fountain. In the car I did not like the light and my whole body was aching. At home we checked my blood with my older sister’s blood meter, and I was high. Later that night when all my brothers and sisters were asleep my mom and dad drove me to the hospital. I had diabetes! I didn’t want to have diabetes because I was always afraid of shots. I cried a lot because I had to get a bunch of shots. I was thankful that my big sister had it too because then I wouldn’t be alone having diabetes. The next day I went to the Barbara Davis Center and I learned all about diabetes. They taught me how to give myself shots and from then on I was never afraid again. Now some grown-ups say they are afraid of shots and I tell them I’m not.
Today I am happy to have diabetes. It has helped me to be brave and to not be afraid of shots. I have a lot of people I can count on. I have two aunts with diabetes and a sister. I really like my nurses at school and at the Barbara Davis Center. My doctor, Dr. Maahs, is so nice to me and he’s always happy; I feel happy when I am around him. Everyone at the Barbara Davis Center is nice, kind and funny. I can always count on all these people to help me.
I grew up in a home with three sisters. Two of them have Type-1 Diabetes. In our home, I remember lots of carb counting, insulin in the refrigerator, juice, and shots. I saw my sisters’ deal with the highs and lows of diabetes. I always wondered why they had to face the challenges of diabetes and I did not. Little did I know that I, too, would have my own challenges with diabetes but through a different role, that of a parent. Our oldest child, Anica, was diagnosed on her eighth birthday. I was shocked, to say the least. I wanted the blood sugar reading to be a mistake. We pleaded in our prayers for the Lord to heal our little daughter and make her whole so she would not have the pains of dealing with this affliction throughout her lifetime. As we sat in the hospital with tear stained faces and hope of healing, hard reality set in that this was not going away. I remember as a child, hoping that my sisters would just wake and their diabetes would go away and that everything would be better for them. That day never came and I realized it wouldn’t for my daughter either. This was to be our life, a life of needles and pokes, checking blood sugars in the darkness of the night, and a continual worry every time we ate or she went anywhere on her own.
But seeing my sisters so well adjusted I knew in time it would just become our way of life. As we became educated by the wonderful staff at the Barbara Davis Center here in Aurora, Colorado, the fear and hopelessness, slowly faded away as we realized this was something we could deal with and manage. Anica is such a powerful example to all of us of someone with a happy, positive outlook on life. She became so close with her school nurse and I saw powerful friendships develop that otherwise would not have.
Just as we had adjusted to life with a diabetic, 3 ½ years later our world was shaken again. Our 7 year-old, Brittley, started showing the typical symptoms of extreme thirst and frequent trips to the restroom. After cluing in to these symptoms, my original fears of diabetes started coming back. How could Brittley get it too? My biggest fear, that I would have two children with diabetes like my own mother, was coming to pass. My mind flashed to Anica and how life has gone on for her, how she has adjusted to diabetes and it has become just a part of who she is. But how would this tenderhearted little child of mine deal with it all. Brittley is my child who I would have to drag out from under the table in the doctor’s office when it was time for a shot.
Managing diabetes can feel like an enormous mountain that has to be climbed each day and as soon as you reach the summit, a new day begins and the mountain stands before you again. And then to imagine that feeling multiplied by two children, it was almost too much to carry. I couldn’t even be in the same room when my husband checked Brittley’s blood sugar. My heart sunk as he confirmed my suspicion. This time, I knew there was no wishing it away. Our second daughter had Type-1 Diabetes also. It was sweet to watch Anica try to comfort Brittley with the idea that they would both have it together. Brittley has always looked up to her sister and in a way this softened the reality of what was happening.
The trip to the ER was now just a formality. After multiple blood sugar checks with Anica’s meter, we knew that Brittley had Type-1 Diabetes. To say that Brittley’s life was going to be turned upside-down, would be an understatement. Just the finger poke by the ER nurse put her over the edge, she was so upset she could hardly breathe. I wondered how we would ever make it through all the daily shots with her. After all the tests were over and Brittley had finally settled down, the last thing she said before she drifted off to sleep was, “Mom, make sure I get a pink pump.” My husband and I managed to smile at each other amidst all our worries.
We got home and with just a couple hours of sleep under our belt we headed to the Barbara Davis Center to be there for their 8 am training session. The staff at the BDC have always been so good with our oldest, Anica. What they were able to accomplish with Brittley, however, was nothing short of a miracle. Our daughter literally came home that evening a different child. She was confident. She checked her blood on her own and drew her own shot. She got that shot without a moment’s hesitation. She had been empowered by all the talented staff at the BDC. They had helped with all her fears and she was now like a proud child riding her bike for the first time.
I truly believe we all have the strength to deal with whatever challenges we are given. Our biggest challenge in life is to find joy in the journey. Now I often hear myself say of other afflictions, “I’m glad we have diabetes to deal with and not something else.” It is manageable. We have two beautiful healthy daughters who are thriving in life. Diabetes is second nature to them. It’s great at the family parties when they’re checking their blood and inputting their numbers into their pumps, my two sisters and my two daughters. Life is good!