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Gadget makes diabetes more manageable
Insulin pumps provide more control to those dealing with condition
Jacob cried out, “Mommy, I’m thirsty!” as tears streamed down his cheeks. Although it was summertime and his parents knew dehydration was possible, they couldn’t understand why he was so thirsty.
Little by little his parents, Tina and Ben Lawler, noticed more unusual symptoms in their son, such as losing weight and wetting the bed.
Tina’s intuition told her something wasn’t right, so she borrowed a friend’s blood glucose meter to test her son’s blood sugar level.
It was what she suspected. His blood sugar level read: “High.”
Tina called her son’s pediatrician, Dr. Daniel Crawford of Yuma Pediatrics, and he told her to meet him immediately at Yuma Regional Medical Center.
Fifteen years earlier, Tina’s father died from several medical complications as a result of not managing his Type 2 diabetes. Tina and her siblings had always braced themselves to hear the news that they had diabetes, but it was like a kick to the stomach to hear that her 6-year-old son was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.
“It was a devastating blow," Tina said. "I always thought that I would be the one to get diabetes, not my baby.”
Diabetes results when the body is unable to convert blood sugar, or glucose, into energy. Type 2 diabetes typically develops later in life and usually begins as an insulin resistance.
Type 1 diabetes accounts for 5 to 10 percent of cases and occurs when the pancreas stops making insulin. Because there is a complete absence of insulin, people with Type 1 diabetes must have insulin injections in order to survive.
Although Jacob’s grandfather had Type 2 diabetes, he didn’t necessarily inherit Type 1 diabetes from him. Risk factors for Type 1 diabetes may be autoimmune, genetic or environmental. And unlike Type 2 diabetes, there is no known way to prevent Type 1 diabetes.
During Jacob’s weeklong stay at YRMC to stabilize his diabetes, the medical staff educated Jacob and his parents on diabetes and how to manage the illness.
Tina said, “I was overwhelmed with all the information and was just trying to sort through it all.”
Tina says the medical staff wanted Jacob to know how to be responsible for managing his diabetes and was able to teach him the necessary skills. Now 9 years old, Jacob has given himself at least three shots of insulin a day since he was diagnosed almost three years ago.
Jacob’s parents fill the syringe with the correct dosage of insulin, but he insists that he give himself the shot. Jacob said it hurts when other people give him a shot, and it leaves a bruise.
Jacob knows how his grandfather passed away and understands how important it is to regularly test his blood sugar and balance his insulin, food and exercise to keep his blood sugar within his target range.
Until about six months ago, Jacob checked his blood sugar four to five times and gave himself three shots of insulin per day. After discussing the option to use an insulin pump instead of a syringe, Jacob’s endocrinologist, Dr. Moinuddin Mokhashi, agreed that the pump would provide Jacob with more control over his diabetes.
An insulin pump is an electronic device that looks like a pager and is worn either on a belt or in a pocket. The pump is connected through a catheter inserted into the fat tissue under that skin of the stomach, hip or leg. Insulin is delivered from a cartridge in the pump, through the catheter and into the skin every three minutes.
Every couple of days, Jacob changes the insert of the catheter to another area of his body and replaces the cartridge to replenish the insulin. He still needs to check his blood sugar before every meal and before going to bed, but instead of three shots a day he only gives himself one shot every three days.
Another amazing feature the insulin pump provides is a list of 500 foods that can be tailored on the computer depending on what Jacob likes to eat. Once Jacob enters his blood sugar level into the pump and chooses from the list what food he will be eating, the pump automatically calculates how many grams of carbohydrate are in that food and how many units of insulin he will need.
Tina’s advice for parents is to learn the symptoms of diabetes because if left untreated, serious complications such as vision loss, kidney failure and even death can occur.
If not for her father’s experience with diabetes, she wouldn’t have known the symptoms and Jacob’s illness could have gotten a lot worse. She said, “Go with your intuition. If you feel like something is not right, check with your doctor.”
The symptoms of low blood sugar include:
-Pale skin color
-Sudden moodiness or behavior changes, such as crying for no apparent reason
-Clumsy or jerky movements
-Difficulty paying attention, or confusion
-Tingling sensations around the mouth
The symptoms of high blood sugar include: