Our first November Story of Hope is brought to you by a special customer of ours, Gracie and her mom, Laura. Gracie was diagnosed with diabetes in March of 2011
Gracie was diagnosed with diabetes in March. Were there any symptoms prior to her diagnosis?
When Gracie was first diagnosed in March of 2011 she had been throwing up with no fevers for a few days. I thought she had a bug of some kind so I kept her home. When she returned to school she fell asleep in class so the doctor decided she should come in. That same night she wet the bed, the only time in her life. The doctor gave her blood tests and noticed that she had unusual numbers so we had two follow up sets of labs including an A1C which came back over 9.5 so we knew. For Gracie, vomiting, being overly tired and bed wetting are the signs that her blood sugar is up too high. Definitely those three things were the signs for us.
How have Gracie's teachers handled her diabetes treatment?
Fortunately we had just changed schools and her new school was amazing! The nurse and health care associate would call me each day to report her levels, they had Gracie get a buddy so she would never be alone especially if she was feeling off at all. They introduced her to another boy who had been diagnosed a few months before her so they could talk about what things they were struggling with or tricks they had found. The nurse was also very supportive of me. I am a single mom and she would always point me in the direction of anyone who might be able to help, give me tips to help us out. Gracie's teacher was also really wonderful about keeping track of any signs she could watch for.
Do you attend diabetes support groups? If so, how have these impacted your and Gracie's life?
I was amazed at the outpouring of support from the local JDRF right after Gracie's diagnosis. Several people contacted me to ask what help I might need, if I had questions and to welcome us to any of their services. I was also amazed at the number of people who let us know about their own diabetes experience. Often it is as simple as a little bit of support from JDRF members on facebook who pray for us, share their stories with us and let us know about their struggles and triumphs.
The JDRF also helped us get Gracie registered for the local Diabetes Camp in our community. Gracie won't even spend the night at friends houses so I was leary but it was incredible. She spent 5 days with a whole camp full of diabetics who knew exactly how she felt! She made so many friends and it was such a magical experience for her. The five days were incredible for me too. Having a break from the 24 hour a day on call job of being the parent of a diabetic was a gift.
Our local JDRF also has a program for mentors that Gracie has become involved in. She has a local mentor who is a young woman who was diagnosed around the same age as Gracie. Codee is an awesome support to Gracie and to me. We meet and they talk about all kinds of things diabetes and otherwise. Codee is always willing to answer any of my questions too!
Do you know of any online resources that you could recommend to others if diabetes has touched their lives?
www.diabetes.org is a site through the American Diabetes Association and of course the JDRF at www.jdrf.org I would also love to stress the importance of finding people in your community whether through social media like facebook or through your local hospitals to talk to.
What advice do you have for parents whose children have recently been diagnosed with diabetes?
My advice to parents is to allow the shock to be acknowledged and then do all of the things you have to which will enable your child to grow up to be a happy healthy adult. I have had to change my eating habits, get more exercise, cut back on junk food and fast food at our house. It is such a difficult thing to do and at the same time I can't imagine trying to tell Gracie to do something if I am unwilling to walk it right along with her. It is a struggle and it is worth it. I know that the decisions we are making right now will affect her health for the rest of her life. This diagnosis has also helped me to remember how blessed we are. Diabetes is very treatable, and she can still have a very fulfilling life doing all the things I would hope she could do.
What advice does Gracie have for other kids who have recently been diagnosed with diabetes?
Gracie would like other kids to remember "it gets easier" and you can still "do anything you want to do in life" "there is nothing that diabetes can stop you from doing unless you let it."
You've started a donation drive called, "Gifts for Gracie." Can you please tell us more about this cause? Where can others go to learn more?
We started "Gifts from Gracie" a few months ago. We are doing small fund raising efforts, garage sale, soda can deposits, donations to help raise funds to purchase medical id bracelets for other children who are diagnosed with life threatening conditions. We were shocked by the number of families that don't have bracelets to make others aware of their children's diabetes, life threatening allergies and other conditions. We have heard any number of reasons from the cost to the ugliness of the jewelry. So we tell everyone we can that Lauren's Hope has the most amazing medical alert jewelry. It comes in so many styles and colors. I know that insurance doesn't cover these items so we appreciate the struggle that cost can be for some families and we don't want that to be the reason someone isn't wearing something that could one day save their life. To date we have raised enough to purchase two id bracelets and we have two families that will be picking out items for their children. One is a type one diabetic diagnosed in November of last year and the other is a child with severe food allergies that have landed him in the ER several times. We have a facebook page under Gifts from Gracie and if anyone wants any information they can contact us that way.
Does Gracie wear her medical ID bracelet every day? How has Gracie's medical ID bracelet affected her life?
Gracie has worn her medical id bracelet since the day we got it (within one month of diagnosis). She never takes it off.
Her bracelet is a beautiful, colorful medical ID bracelet that glows in the dark. People constantly comment on it and it gives her a chance to talk to them about her diabetes and the need for medical alert jewelry. It gives me a peace of mind to know that even when I am not with her if something were to happen medical personell would be able to give her life saving treatments before it is too late.
Now it's your turn! Has diabetes affected your life? What advice or resources can you share with others?