Let me tell you about my gorgeous, energetic and passionate son. He is now 11 but his story starts at age 7.
At age 7 Zach was like every other, full on little boy that you know. He loved to be active, to play sports and to live each day to the fullest. He was a kid, you could say, that only had two speeds – on and off – and on being at 150% effort. He was passionate in that he would laugh and cry with the same intensity, and you never had to wonder what he was feeling. What a joy….and a challenge at times… to stream his energy into the fun and purpose of a 7-year old’s life – family, school and friends.
The weekend began like any other, only that it was AFL grand final weekend and we were watching it on the TV with great snacks and family time. Zach was unusually thirsty…he seemed to be consuming glass after glass of water and just couldn’t get enough. He became very upset when we finally said, ‘enough is enough’ and he needed to go to bed. The next day, Sunday, was a warm sunny afternoon, so we took Zach and his little brother to the park. Zach and dad got straight into a game of soccer. Dad got hot and took his shirt off and, of course, Zach did the same. It was then, as I watched them play, that I knew something was seriously wrong! My energetic boy was so skinny! I had to do a double take – why hadn’t I noticed this before! Could he have changed overnight? Or maybe two? We were only at the pool last weekend! It was then that I knew, taking into account his drinking the day before…we were looking at either Kidney issues, or Diabetes.
First thing Monday, we took Zach to his GP who confirmed the worst, T1-Diabetes, by a quick wee test! Having had experience with this condition before, I was filled with dread over what this now meant for my little boy, and the whole family, on a daily basis. How would he cope? How would we alter all the routines to incorporate what Zach needed – and to do this without highlighting to Zach how big of a change this diagnosis would be. Zach was committed to the Royal Children’s Hospital, for further testing and stabilisation of his weight loss. At the same time, Dad and I were receiving the guidance we needed to begin to structure life around Zach’s Diabetes. His little brother was naturally worried and so we had two young boys to comfort in the moment, but without the ability to say things would ever be the same!
The initial months post Zach’s diagnosis were full of tears (his, ours and his brothers), as blood glucose testing and insulin needles became a daily event. With Zach being so little, all these tasks fell to dad and I, and to his teachers at school. To help Zach with the transition back to school, he was given the opportunity to talk at an assemble about how it ‘sucked’ to have injections and most importantly – no lollies! Unpredictably, one of the biggest challenges was going to be the passion with which Zach engaged in life and the 150% he put into everything. This means he is typically in the flight/fight mode, running high with cortisol and adrenalin, spiking his blood glucose levels to the point they were hard to bring down without then crashing him into a hypo!
Zach is now 11 and still juggling the demands of his Diabetes. Like all pre-teens, he does not believe anything should stand in his way of doing everything his mates are doing – which of course, is highly physical and throws his levels. He will, at times, modify the information in his CGM (continuous glucose monitor) to give a false ‘safe’ reading, so that he will not be asked to stop playing – that game of soccer, basketball, or whatever physical activity he is engaged in. This is highly dangerous, and we are trying to help Zach understand this. With greater knowledge, Zach has other ways to modify his readings – even to the point of flexing his abdomen muscles when the pump is administering the insulin, to minimise the amount that can ‘get through’. Add to this, the emotional challenges of pre-teens and soon to be -teen…and we are on a roller-coaster.
A roller coaster – that is exactly what T1 Diabetes is like. A roller coaster of levels in Zach’s reading; a roller coaster of testing and administering, a roller coaster of high and lows in our family’s ability to ‘roll with the punches’. It is living with an ever-present uncertainty if this will be the day when we ‘miss’ a critical reading. So, we continue to regulate, to guide and to assist our son, in the hope that, one day, the biggest thing in Zach’s life, will not be his Diabetes.
Type-1 Diabetes is an auto-immune condition where the immune system, for some unknown reason, begins to destroy the cells in the pancreas that produce insulin. There is no cure for Type 1- Diabetes and to live a long and happy life this disease must be managed. Zach doesn’t want to have Type-1 Diabetes and at the moment rebels against it, by cleverly outwitting his continuous glucose monitor, but that won’t out smart a Type-1 Diabetes medical alert assistance dog. These special dogs are trained to detect and alert Zach and his mum and dad when his levels drop to a dangerous level. These dogs are lifesavers and will give Zach and his family back a quality of life they can relax in.
You can help us save lives and improve the quality of life of children and families living with Type 1-Diabetes.
Donate today and help us train and place these lifesaving medical alert assistance dogs!
Financial Institution: Bendigo Bank
Name of Account: Righteous Pups Australia Inc
Account No: 125 823 583