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On Sept. 14, 2008, my whole world changed upon learning that my nephew, Davon, had type 1 diabetes. He had lived with my family off and on since he was seven and had just turned 12. At the time he was diagnosed, he was living with his mom, my sister, in South Carolina.
It was a Saturday, and like most weekends I called to talk to him and see how things were going. We have always been close and I was very involved in his life. My sister told me he had been sick since Wednesday and she didn’t know what was wrong with him. He couldn’t keep anything down except water. I urged her to take him to the emergency room. I called my parents, asking them to meet her there to help support her.
In the meantime, it was my daughter’s 14th birthday and I had a house full of teenage girls! We carried on with the party, anxiously awaiting to hear how Davon was. Upon returning from my soccer game, my husband (who had been keeping me on the phone the whole drive home to prevent me from seeing my mom had called) asked me to come out to the porch to talk. My mom had been trying to call me while I was playing soccer and because I had all the girls with me, he wanted to be the one to update me on Davon when I got home. He broke the news that Davon was in the ICU and had been diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.
When my sister got him to the emergency room, his blood sugar level was 895. Normal levels are around 100. He was unable to see and had to be carried into the emergency room. We were told that if she had waited another hour, he would have likely not been with us. Not knowing what type 1 diabetes was, I thought it was a death sentence and broke down like never before. A million thoughts were running through my head – How did he get this? Why him? How long before we lose him?
The next day, I left on the first flight to SC to be with him since I was living in Texas at the time. My youngest daughter, Lailah, who was 2 at the time, and I stayed with him on a couch in the hospital room until he was discharged on Tuesday. While we were there, we received a great deal of education on how to live with Type 1 diabetes: how to count your carbs and how carbs affected his sugar levels, the impact of high blood sugars, the importance of checking his sugar before every meal, what normal ranges are, the difference between fast acting and long acting insulin, etc. Davon even got to give me a shot so I would know what it felt like for him – he really enjoyed that part!
Shortly after his diagnosis, Davon came to live with my family permanently and we took the proper steps to have legal custody of him. About two years ago, he converted to using a pump to receive his insulin versus the manual shot method. This acts more like your pancreas and gives consistent bursts of insulin throughout the day. Type 1 diabetes in more unpredictable than type 2 – Davon’s pancreas doesn’t work at all – so if he over corrects for the number of carbs he eats, his sugar can drop and he could go into a coma. If he doesn’t give himself enough insulin and his sugar remains high for periods of time, there can be long term affects to his eyes, his kidneys and other organs. While he still eats cake on his birthday and the occasional family celebration….no sweets! Sweets of course are nothing but sugar and cause his blood sugar levels to go extremely high.
On Aug. 10, 2017 Davon will be 21. Every time my phone rings and I am not with him, I worry that something has happened. Every time I can’t get in touch with him, I wonder if he is ok. When I need to wake him because he didn’t get up, I worry if he is breathing. No matter how old he gets, I don’t think these concerns will go away.
With diabetes, you can’t let your guard down. It’s a constant game of count your carbs and adjust, check your sugar and correct, *** your finger to see what the number is. I can’t believe this year will be nine years – but I feel so blessed every day to have him here and to have been able to support him through the most difficult time in his life.
Presented by: Gena Misouria
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