The end of financial year is coming up soon, and JDRF is asking everyone to consider making a tax-deductible donation before 30 June. We recently sent a donation appeal out to a number of households across Australia, featuring this moving story from Sheree, a mum who has T1D, and her son Nate, who also has T1D. Please consider making a gift today: www.jdrf.org.au/donate.
I was misdiagnosed with gestational diabetes when I was pregnant with my daughter Sophie. Even after I gave birth though, I continued losing weight and getting sicker even though I was doing all I could to ‘manage’ the misdiagnosed condition.
We were living in Canada at the time as my husband Jason is Canadian. It wasn’t until we returned home to Australia and saw the shock on my family’s face when they saw me that I realised I was sicker than I thought. They almost didn’t recognise me because I had lost so much weight.
Even though the diagnosis of type 1 diabetes was a relief in a way, it has made life a lot harder. When Jason and I started talking about growing our family, we had to think about our options. What if our children developed type 1 diabetes as well?
After I gave birth to Nate, we did what we could to monitor the risk of type 1 diabetes in our kids. We enrolled both Sophie and Nate into the VIGR clinical trial, to see if they would be at risk.
I had my suspicions when Nate started drinking and urinating more regularly – I’d lived through the same symptoms myself. I really hoped it wasn’t type 1 diabetes, and kept trying to convince myself of it. We were toilet-training at that point, so I hoped that his changed behaviour was just the result of that – or even that it was just the result of being a normal two-year-old having tantrums!
The meter doesn’t lie though, and when I tested him with my supplies one night, it simply read as ‘HI’. I tried the meter on all members of our family, trying to convince myself that the meter was wrong, but it wasn’t. We ended up spending three days in hospital.
There’s no break from type 1 diabetes – it’s a constant in our lives and it affects our whole family. I can’t remember the last time I slept through the night – if it’s not testing Nate, it’s testing myself. When we’re out, I worry about Nate and how he’s being looked after. We don’t really leave him for long periods of time because of his diabetes needs.
Our daughter Sophie was there when I first tested Nate and realised he had type 1 diabetes – she witnessed the whole thing and I think it has contributed to the fact that she’s a lot more anxious about medical events now. She hates going to the doctor, and doing tests is nearly impossible. Anything to do with health, or doctor visits, can be very traumatic for her.
I also worry about Sophie every time she gets sick, or drinks a little more than usual, especially with the possibility of her developing type 1 diabetes as well. I test her as regularly as I can – as much as she will allow me given her phobia around medical issues.
Type 1 diabetes is a big burden on our family. We want a brighter future for Nate. He deserves better. I don’t care about myself and whether or not I get a cure. I just want Nate to be able to have a normal childhood, and to live a normal life without always having to worry about type 1 diabetes.
The possibilities are there. Even since my own diagnosis, I’ve seen the advances in technology that can help to manage type 1 diabetes. Reading about things like encapsulation of insulin producing cells – if I, if Nate, could get an implant which would mean that we wouldn’t have type 1 diabetes for two years or even longer…what a difference that would make.
I have confidence in JDRF. The research they fund will lead to technologies that will benefit Nate in his lifetime. But if there’s no money towards the research, we won’t get there – that’s why we need everyone to donate as much as they can to JDRF.