Living with Diabetes at a young age

Blake Erickson, a four year-old Preeceville resident, was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes after he had become extremely sick. His parents Josh and Erin Erickson were distraught when their son had to be rushed to the hospital and air lifted to Saskatoon Royal University Hospital after the diagnosis.

In honour of World Diabetes Day, Erickson spoke to his mother's Grade 4 class in Preeceville about the disease and explained everything he knows about it. "I have diabetes and have to watch what I can eat and how to read my phone that monitors everything," he said.

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Through books and favorite stuffed animals Erickson has a good understanding of this disease.

"When he first became sick we had originally thought he had the flu as the symptoms are similar," said his mom. "He was using the bathroom a lot more and drinking a lot. When he quickly became more ill we were rushed to Saskatoon where we spent one week in the hospital getting educated to this disease. The Diabetes Living Well Clinic helped us to understand it and what we had to do for the health of our son. It was and has been a huge life-altering difference. The change has not been easy but now after two years of living with it we don't know what our life was before diabetes. We have to watch everything he puts in his mouth but it has gotten easier as we understand it more," she said.

Erickson uses a Dexcom meter that is placed on his arm. It has a Bluetooth feature that sends accurate and immediate results of his blood sugar reading to his phone that is linked with his parents’ phones. The patch that monitors his blood sugar changes every 10 days and the family still does the poke blood test system as a back-up. He is on two separate types of insulin, Humalog (fast acting) which is taken three times a day and Lantus (long lasting) which is only given once at bedtime.

"He will have this the rest of his life but we re not going to let it slow him down," stated Erickson. He is currently attending Preeceville Nursery School with an education assistant assigned to him to aid him in monitoring his blood sugar until he is old enough to do it himself. His grandmother Judy Stolar spends weekdays caring for him but on weekends travels back to her home in Melville.

The theme for diabetes awareness month and World Diabetes Day, November 14, was Family and Diabetesstated the diabetes website.

The International Diabetes Federation is raising awareness of the impact that diabetes has on the family and support network of those affected, and promoting the role of the family in the management, care, prevention and education of diabetes, continued the website information.

Families are urged to learn more about the warning signs of diabetes and find out their risk of Type 2 diabetes. Research conducted by IDF in 2018 discovered that parents would struggle to spot this serious life-long condition in their own children. Despite the majority of people surveyed having a family member with diabetes, an alarming four-in-five parents would have trouble recognising the warning signs. One in three wouldn’t spot them at all.

The findings underline the need for education and awareness to help people spot the diabetes warning signs early.

There are two main types of diabetes: Type 1 and Type 2. Both types of diabetes are chronic diseases that affect the way the body regulates blood sugar, or glucose. Glucose is the fuel that feeds the body’s cells, but to enter cells it needs a key. Insulin is that key.

People with Type 1 diabetes don’t produce insulin.The body’s immune system is responsible for fighting off foreign invaders, like harmful viruses and bacteria. In people with Type 1 diabetes, the immune system mistakes the body’s own healthy cells for foreign invaders. The immune system attacks and destroys the insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas. After these beta cells are destroyed, the body is unable to produce insulin.

People with Type 2 diabetes don’t respond to insulin as well as they should and later in the disease often don’t make enough insulin. People with Type 2 diabetes have insulin resistance. The body still produces insulin, but it’s unable to use it effectively. Researchers aren’t sure why some people become insulin resistant and others don’t, but several lifestyle factors may contribute, including excess weight and inactivity.

There’s no cure for Type 1 diabetes. People with Type 1 diabetes don’t produce insulin, so it must be regularly injected into the body. Some people take injections into the soft tissue, such as the stomach, arm, or buttocks, several times per day. Other people use insulin pumps. Insulin pumps supply a steady amount of insulin into the body through a small tube.

Blood sugar testing is an essential part of managing Type 1 diabetes, because levels can go up and down quickly.

Type 2 diabetes can be controlled and even reversed with diet and exercise alone, but many people need extra support. If lifestyle changes aren’t enough, a doctor may prescribe medications that help a person use insulin more effectively.

Monitoring blood sugar is an essential part of diabetes management because it’s the only way to know if target levels are being met. Doctors may recommend testing blood sugar occasionally or more frequently. If blood sugar is high, doctors may recommend insulin injections, concluded the information.