Meet Nate and Elise… T1D Superheroes for a CURE. These sweet little ones live with type 1 diabetes (T1D) and were both diagnosed at a very young age (Nate at 14 months, Elise at 12 months). Every 36 minutes a child in the United States is diagnosed with T1D. Often developing in children, adolescents, and young adults, it’s sometimes called “juvenile diabetes.” The warning signs of type 1 diabetes include extreme thirst; frequent urination; drowsiness or lethargy; sugar in urine; sudden vision changes; increased appetite; sudden weight loss; fruity, sweet, or wine-like odor on breath; heavy, labored breathing; stupor; and unconsciousness. There is no cure for T1D.
T1D occurs when the body’s immune system attacks and destroys the beta cells in the pancreas. When the beta cells are destroyed, no insulin can be produced, and the glucose stays in the blood, where it can cause serious damage to all the organ systems of the body.
For this reason, people with T1D must take insulin in order to stay alive. This means undergoing multiple injections daily, or having insulin delivered through an insulin pump. You will notice on the back of Elise and Nates’s arm there is a white egg shaped device attached to them. They both wear an OmniPod, a tubeless insulin pump. Although the use of an insulin pump does eliminate multiple injections daily, it does have to be changed out on a regular basis (every 3 days for the OmniPod). It works like getting an IV, a cannula is inserted so that insulin delivery can take place. So while many users benefit from such devices, they are NOT a cure and still require careful monitoring and management.
T1D also requires Nate and Elise to test their blood sugar by pricking their fingers for blood six or more times a day. They must carefully balance their food intake and their exercise to help regulate their blood sugar levels, in an attempt to avoid hypoglycemic (low blood sugar) and hyperglycemic (high blood sugar) reactions, which can be life threatening. For example, at our session, Elise tested her blood sugar and it was 113. Since that was a good number for her, she did not have to make any corrections at that time. Nate then tested his blood sugar and it was 71, which is slightly low for him so he then treated with a glucose Quick Stick to help bring his blood sugar up. If either of their blood sugar levels had been high, they would have had to administer a calculated dose of insulin through their OmniPod to help bring their blood sugar level down. When you have T1D, you are always calculating – carbs, correction factors, insulin to carb ratios and the list goes on. Many times those living with T1D find that even though they strive for tight blood sugar control and follow their meal plan and insulin schedule, they still experience rapid fluctuations in their blood glucose. It’s important to note that those fluctuations do not mean the person with diabetes has done anything wrong. Many factors, including stress, hormone changes, periods of growth, and illness can easily cause blood sugar to swing out of control making T1D very difficult to manage.
I encourage you to read Nate’s and Elise’s diagnosis stories and be ready with some tissues. Every. single. time. I read them, I can’t help but cry. These T1D Superheroes and their families fight 24/7/365 against a disease that is very unpredictable and requires constant and careful management (see what a typical day for Elise looks like). They also continue to have hope for a cure in their lifetime and are dedicated JDRF volunteers bringing awareness to T1D through their blogs (Nate’s Mom, Elise’s Mom) and raising significant funds through the JDRF Walk to Cure Diabetes.
JDRF is the leading global organization focused on T1D research. Driven by passionate, grassroots volunteers connected to children, adolescents, and adults with this disease, JDRF is the largest charitable supporter of T1D research. The goal of JDRF is to improve the lives of every person affected by T1D by accelerating progress on the most promising opportunities for curing, better treating, and preventing the disease. JDRF will not rest until T1D is fully conquered. Learn more by visiting www.jdrf.org.
Did you know that diabetes kills more people than breast cancer and AIDS combined in the United States. So, if you know someone who fights this battle, encourage them. They are in a fight for their health and life.
Get Involved. There are countless ways to get involved in helping JDRF advance its goals. From participating in fundraising events, making a donation, or volunteering, there are a variety of options to suit your needs and interests. Please get in touch with your local chapter or international affiliate, and if you live in Dallas, TX or surrounding areas, please be sure and check out the JDRF Greater Dallas Chapter. And don’t forget to use the “sharing is caring” feature below to help bring awareness to Nate & Elise’s story and this great organization.
Many kind thanks to Superkid Capes who generously donated the custom T1D cape sets for this very special session. Brooke has such a big heart and was really great to work with! Superkid Capes is offering a special coupon code for T1D families!!! Just enter T1DAWARENESS at checkout and you will receive 10% off your purchase (excluding party cape sets). You can visit her store at www.superkidcapesstore.com.
And very special thanks to Nate, Elise and their families for sharing their story and to all of the supporters who have made these Love Capture Give ® sessions possible by purchasing sessions through Tressavent Photography.