Alyssa's Journey with Type 1 Diabetes

An outlet, a diary of sorts, a place for thoughts, a place to connect,
an expression of feelings about Juvenile Diabetes......

Friday, July 29, 2011

It takes a villiage

It takes a village….

I am so grateful that we have so many family and friends who support, care and love our children. It honestly takes a village to raise a child; this is even more important when you have a child with juvenile diabetes. Fortunately in our situation, family and friends want to be educated and want to be informed about Alyssa’s care.

The first people that need to be educated are the other children that live in the home. I have 2 amazing sons who have always looked out for their baby sister, well when she’s not getting on their nerves. But in all honesty, since she was diagnosed, they are on her like white on rice. We’ve trained them in a sense by letting them check her glucose levels, giving her injections, educating them on what she can eat and what to look for. They have also dealt really well with the changes that have had to be made around here; Splenda instead of sugar, diet drinks, no candy….and if they buy their own candy, they don’t eat it in front of her. And it’s not that she can never have candy, it just has to be monitored.

My mother and mother-in-law have also been a great help. It was about 5 months after her diagnosis before Alyssa spent the night away from home, which was a long time for her because she loved spending weekends with her grandmothers. It’s a huge responsibility and they have made it possible for me and my husband to get away, take a break, and know that our little girl is being well taken care of.

Our friends are the best! I’m hearing about research they’ve read about, food ideas and substitutes. They continuously ask about Alyssa and when we are all together they are genuinely curious about her care and want to take part in it.

Outside of the home, more than likely the first people that need to be educated are teachers and school staff as they are with your child several hours a day. We are very fortunate that Alyssa’s school has a wonderful, caring staff. I’ll have a post about diabetes and school soon as I prepare for Alyssa’s return to school next month.

All in all, the most important thing is for Alyssa to know that she is loved and that diabetes does not define who she is. She is still that smart, silly, busy little girl who just so happens to have a disease. Our family and friends have been a tremendous part in helping her recognize that.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Snack time

Choosing snacks for Alyssa is an ever evolving task. Being a child with high energy, high metabolism, and who could previously eat anything she wanted-I had to become very creative. Her snacks need to be around 15g of carbohydrates, which does not include regular chocolate chip cookies (her favorite).

I always keep sugar free jello, sugar free popsicles and cheese sticks on hand, as they are low carb alternatives when Alyssa’s hungry between snacks or meals. She loves vanilla flavored yogurt and a serving of the light is 14g of carbs. All the little 100 calorie snack packs have somewhere between 14-17g of carbs and there are tons of varieties. It also gives her a chance to have those chocolate chip cookies in mini size. Sugar free jello pudding, ritz bits snack packs, gold fish snack packs and 4 to a pack of peanut butter crackers are all 15g of carbs or less to. If she experiences a low blood sugar, I usually give her a 4oz. juice box followed by a protein/carb snack of cheese and crackers or cheese and a few grapes. ). She has 3 snacks a day and who would want the same thing over and over? Therefore, I am always on the lookout for new snack ideas.

Counting Carbs...highs and lows

Juvenile Diabetes is a condition where the pancreas produces very little or no insulin which is the hormone needed for glucose to enter the cells and produce energy. If there is not enough insulin, glucose remains in the blood stream and can result in heart damage, kidney damage, vision problems, and skin problems--just to name a few of the major complications.

Alyssa's diabetes requires her to have 4 injections of insulin a day. With her 3 main meals, she has Novolog which is based on the amount of carbs she will eat with her meal and her current blood sugar. In the morning she also has an injection of Lantis, which is a long lasting insulin. Her 3 main meals consist of 45-60 grams of carbs and then she has 3 snacks (mid morning, mid afternoon, and before bed) that consist of 15 grams of carbs each. Her glucose levels are checked 4-6 times a day, poor little fingers; including in the middle of the night. The purpose of this diet plan is to keep her glucose levels between 100-180 (as she feels symptoms when she gets below 100).

I have found that her activity level majorly affects her levels. Alyssa is a very active little girl and it did take some time to get her adjusted. When she was first diagnosed, I thought our biggest ploblem would be to keep her sugar levels down, but in her case, with the insulin and her activity level, we stuggle with lows. Since she was diagnosed, working with her physician, we have had to adjust her insulin several times. Just when you think you're getting balanced, she starts having highs or lows...sometimes both in the same day.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

My beautiful Alyssa

Alyssa came into the world fighting on June 15, 2003. She was born 5 weeks early and because her lungs were not fully developed, spent 10 days in the NICU. Alyssa is the youngest of 3 and the only girl. From the day should could get around, she has followed her older brothers around, wanting to do everything they do. At age 4, she broke her tibia on a trampoline, age 6 she broke her pinky slamming it in a drawer and most recently broke her arm after falling off of her bike. Countless bumps and bruises over the years.....she is one tough little girl!

In late October of 2010, Alyssa started wetting the bed. I honestly thought it was just a stage she was going through, even though she had never had a problem with it. In all reality, this girl always plays hard and crashes with exhaustion, so I assumed she was just sleeping through it. She also seemed to be getting taller and with that, she seemed to be thinning. She was already petite, but seemed to be losing her 'baby cheeks'. In early December I started to notice Alyssa's appetite had decreased, but she always seemed to be thirsty. By Christmas, Alyssa was drinking anything she could get her hands on.

2 days after Christmas, I took her to her pediatrician. They checked her glucose levels and her urine for keytones and immediately directed us to the emergency room. It all happened so fast! That was the first time I heard the words Juvenile Diabetes.