Kariya – Age 11
In early September of 2016, Kariya started showing signs that something was not right. Whether it was small clumps of hair loss or trouble concentrating and staying focused on tasks, something was off. Early in her childhood, Kariya was of average size for her age, but we started to notice that she stopped growing. Normally an above average student, she had started to struggle in subjects that she loved.
My wife and I decided we would make a doctor’s appointment. Unfortunately, we were not able to schedule an appointment until a week later. As fate would have it, we never made the doctor’s appointment. One day while Kariya was at school, she blacked out and the school immediately notified her mother. We had to rush her to the Unity Point Clinic. The staff was able to immediately identify what was wrong, given the symptoms, and we were sent straight to American Family Children’s Hospital. It was here that Kariya was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes (T1D).
I think it is safe to say at this time we were all in a state of shock, confused, overwhelmed, and pretty much every emotion you can name. Looking back, our family is incredibly grateful to the staff at American Family Children’s Hospital. They took their time to explain everything slowly, but they also gave us the space when they realized we needed a break.
The first few weeks following the T1D diagnosis were the hardest. Meal time routines were changed and now consisted of us worrying about how to correctly count carbs, measuring serving sizes, and measuring blood sugar levels. My wife and I, like most parents following a type 1 diabetes diagnosis, would over check Kariya’s blood sugars. We checked so often that Kariya would give us a look like, “Seriously?! I just checked my blood sugar fifteen minutes ago!”
Type 1 diabetes is a constant roller coaster, but one thing that our family has learned is to take it day by day because each day is different. Sometimes a streak of good days can be the hardest, because you are preparing for what is coming next. Yet, even on the worst days, there is still hope knowing the next day could be better.
Now, almost a year into Kariya’s diagnosis, times are changing for our family. We are starting to relax a bit, but it is hard knowing the type 1 diabetes community does not always receive the support it needs. Recently, we received our CGM and pump, which helps Kariya a great deal—especially with those night-time lows.
While things will never be the same as before the diagnosis, we grow more and more confident every day and know that Kariya is determined not to let T1D stand in her way!
Kariya’s story was written by her father, Mark. Mark joined Team Western Wisconsin this year and participated in TWO JDRF Ride to Cure events. He will be back with the team again this year and is planning on doing multiple riders again! If you want to join Mark and the rest of the Honey Badgers this season, visit ride.jdrf.org. Thank you to Mark for sharing his family’s story!
If you want to submit a story about your diabetes journey like Kariya, please contact Jen Allen!