Name: Jennifer Holdgreve, mother of Allison, age 8, diagnosed at age 6
Location: Centreville, Md.
Allison was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes on May 1, 2011. We remember it like it was yesterday, but at the same time, it now feels like diabetes has always been a part of our lives.
She had the classic symptoms of fatigue, weight loss, extreme thirst, extreme hunger and using the bathroom all the time. Of course we knew nothing about diabetes, so we did not realize the seriousness of what was happening. We thought it was a growth spurt or the stress of being in kindergarten. Finally, we decided a trip to the pediatrician might be a good idea. That trip turned into a long ride in an ambulance and a day and a half in a pediatric ICU unit, followed by three intensive days of training in the pediatric unit.
Allison’s resilience amazed us from the beginning. A six-year-old being poked with needles at least four times a day and pricking her own finger at least ten times a day (usually by herself)—she was and still is a young woman taking charge! She astounds everyone around her because she doesn’t hide her diabetes from anyone.
Our two other children have also amazed us and have taken all the changes in stride as you would hope a family would. They have been trained on how to help Allison and have learned patience and true understanding of our new world. Our youngest (5 years old) now wants to be a doctor so she can cure diabetes for her sister, and our oldest (9 years old) started a group called Cub Scouts for a Cure, where he has held fundraisers and taken the lead in our community to help people understand more about diabetes and what his sister and family deal with on a daily basis.
To say our lives changed in an instant is an understatement— it is nothing like it was on April 30, 2011. Our morning routine now consists of three blood glucose checks: when she wakes up, before she eats breakfast and before she gets on the bus. Then she checks at school frequently—before activities, snacks and lunch. With all of her activities, like dance and soccer, we have to monitor the level of activity versus food intake and account for her blood glucose before participating.
Oh, and don’t forget about the weather—the temperature plays a big part in how her body reacts, too! It is a lot of pre-planning, thinking and carrying of all the necessary diabetes supplies. You can never leave home without items that could save your child’s life—it is that simple and that difficult at times.
We pray daily for those working toward a cure. Every time we hear of another family with a member diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, our hearts ache for them. We know what it feels like to have your world rocked to its core. We know it will get easier, it will become calmer, it will become real again, but it will never be the same.
Diabetes will always be there with you and your child, until there is a cure.