Prather Pediatric and Allergy Center - Ask Doctor Brent

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Title: Thoughts on Diabetes

Category: Lagniappe - a little extra



Recently my son, Scott, was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes mellitus or what most everyone calls, "childhood diabetes". This is the type diabetes that usually starts in childhood and requires insulin shots for the rest of your life. The other type diabetes, adult onset, usually occurs in middle or older age and does not always require insulin shots.

Scott had all the classic symptoms; frequent urination, frequent drinking and constant wanting to eat sweet things. When we checked his blood sugar, it was over 800 (normal being about 60-120). We were lucky that we caught it before he got quite sick and developed
ketoacidosis. This is a condition which occurs when the body breaks down fat in trying to get glucose into the brain cells and the entire body becomes acidic and sick. Usually a person will breathe hard and deep, have an unusual odor to their breath and may even slip into a coma. Thank goodness we didn't get to that point.

In retrospect, Scott's diabetes seemed to come on after a major trauma that he had in June. He fell off of a raised porch and broke both bones in his left wrist pretty severely. From that point on he was not himself and lost quite a bit of weight, about 17 pounds which is a lot for a trim 13 year old. In reading up on diabetes, I learned that most cases do come on after a major trauma or a serious virus. I also learned that heredity is less important for childhood diabetes than the adult type diabetes.

While we were in the hospital for two days, I was impressed by the wonderful team approach and quick learning we experienced about Scott's condition. We had a pediatrician and an endocrinologist guiding his care. There was a nutritionist/dietitian who taught
him how to eat properly and count carbohydrates. This will be the key to his effectively regulating his blood sugar for the rest of his life. He was also taught by a diabetic educator who works with the endocrinologist and several wonderful pediatric nurses. By the time he left the hospital after just two short days, he was doing
his own finger sticks, measuring his glucose with a little machine called a "One Touch System", and giving his insulin shots twice a day.

Scott's rapid adjustment physically and environmentally truly amazed me. I think part of it is his compliant nature and I'm sure part is also due to a lot of wonderful prayer. Like Scott, all children with chronic diseases, whether it is diabetes, severe asthma, cystic fibrosis, sickle cell disease, or any other chronic condition, have to come to grips with their diagnosis. Ideally they are able to see experts in their disease. Finally, they usually need a team of health care specialists challenging them
with a supportive family as well, to pray for them daily.

If you know of such a child, please reach out and offer them your help.