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An Oklahoma family learns how different Type 1 diabetes is from the more prevalent Type 2

Over the past few years, Rebecca and Gary Dees’ children Brooke, 14, and Braden, 11, have been diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, a lifelong disease in which there is a high level of sugar, or glucose, in the blood, according to the National Institutes of Health.
by Jaclyn Cosgrove Published: July 6, 2014
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About a year later, Braden was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at his wellness checkup. He was hospitalized for about five days.

Because Type 1 diabetes can start quickly and the symptoms can be severe, people who have just been diagnosed might need to stay in the hospital, according to NIH.

Lifestyle changes

Since their diagnoses, each of Dees’ children have had to make lifestyle changes.

This past Halloween, Braden thought about not going trick or treating. He thought, “Why go when there’s so much candy you can’t have?”

Dees explained to her son that Halloween isn’t so bad — the candy comes in individual portions. She told him even though he might not be able to eat all of his candy in one week, he could have a piece every day for the next year.

Meanwhile, Brooke now has an OmniPod that delivers her insulin by remote and has no tubes or wires. It looks like a computer mouse and is attached to her body.

She played volleyball this past year, but she is hesitant to play again because the high school uniforms have short bottoms that would show the device. She worries other kids will stare.

These are a few examples of how much diabetes is a part of Dees’ children’s lives.

“It’s a total life changer,” Dees said. “It’s something I could never imagine would be so hard — because it changes everything.”

When her children start school, she meets with all of their teachers and takes bags of juice, crackers, and glucose tablets to each of their classes for them to have, just in case of an emergency.

Dees wishes that there were a pill her children could simply take to manage their illness. Rather, they have to check their blood sugar at least four times.

One small comfort Dees has is that, at least her children, after they’re grown, will understand how to help each other.

“Not that I would want either one of them to have it,” she said. “But it’s something that will bond them forever, and they know how to take care of each other.”

by Jaclyn Cosgrove
Medical and Health Reporter
Jaclyn Cosgrove writes about health, public policy and medicine in Oklahoma, among other topics. She is an Oklahoma State University graduate. Jaclyn grew up in the southeast region of the state and enjoys writing about rural Oklahoma. She is...
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At a glance

Early warning signs of Type 1 diabetes

Being very thirsty

Feeling hungry

Feeling tired all the time

Having blurry eyesight

Feeling numbness or feeling tingling in your feet

Losing weight without trying

Urinating more often

Also ...

For other people, these serious warning symptoms may be the first signs of Type 1 diabetes, or they may happen when blood sugar is very high:

Deep, rapid breathing

Dry skin and mouth

Flushed face

Fruity breath odor

Nausea or vomiting, inability to keep down fluids

Stomach pain

Source: MedlinePlus, a service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine

At four or five in the morning when I’m at work, I’m thinking, ‘As soon as they get up they need to check their blood sugar — I hope it wasn’t low because they played outside last night,’ or I’ll think, ‘Oh, the snack they have — I hope it wasn’t over their carb limit.’”

Rebecca Dees,

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