CHICAGO (CBS) — It is a difficult diagnosis for anyone to hear, but when a child is diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes, it is truly life-altering for the whole family.
CBS 2’s Kate Sullivan shares some advice on how to cope from two kids who diagnosed themselves.
They may have the best advice of all.
Nine-year-old Ellie Grimm and 12-year-old Sam Parsons are two different kids, with two remarkable stories.
Both diagnosed themselves with diabetes.
For Ellie, it was her love of American Girl dolls that might have saved her life. She read an article in American Girl Magazine about a girl with diabetes.
“She came to me and said, ‘Mom, maybe I have diabetes too,'” said her mother, Jessie Grimm.
“I would go to the movie theater, and I’d get an Icee, and I had to go to the bathroom during the middle of the movie” said Ellie.
Doctors confirmed Ellie was right.
“We were all very proud of her, and surprised that someone so young could figure that out,” her mother said.
Sam diagnosed himself too.
“We were blown away,” said his mother, Vicki Parsons.
After a diabetes event at school, he learned the symptoms, and realized his constant thirst might be a problem. Doctors confirmed Sam was diabetic.
Sam said sometimes “it’s scary.”
His parents admitted the diagnosis, made only three months ago, has been really hard.
“It’s at least 5 shots a day, and it is constant monitoring, all the way around the clock, 24 hours a day” said Sam’s father, Lang Parsons.
Dr. Lou Philipson, of the Kovler Diabetes Center at the University of Chicago, says the symptoms are much more subtle in a child, and that can make the diagnosis tricky.
“They should look for weight loss; increased appetite, with either no weight gain, or with some weight loss; a bit of little fatigue, and if a child hasn’t been going to the bathroom at night, and suddenly he’s going two or three times a night,” Philipson said.
Now Ellie and Sam continuously check blood sugar levels, coordinate meals, and then provide the correct amounts of insulin accordingly.
For Ellie, it’s an insulin pump. For Sam, it’s shots.
“His younger brother and sister are in the pantry all the time, reading labels, telling us how many carbs are in things, so it’s definitely been a family project that we’ve all undertaken,” said his mother.
Ellie’s advice for a kid who just got diagnosed with diabetes and is kind of scared? “That it’s not the end of the world. You can still eat candy and sweets, just you need to test your blood sugar. Your life has changed a little bit, but your life is not changing entirely,” she said.
Philipson said those with diabetes cannot be a commercial airline pilot or SCUBA diver, but other than that, they can go on and do anything they want in life.