By Sarah Gorman
It all started with my then 13 year old daughter, Jade, having horrible leg cramps. She would wake up in the middle of the night screaming from the pain. She was also excessively thirsty, needed to use the bathroom constantly and was not sleeping through the night.
During the day Jade would comment about pain under her rib, itchy skin, was very irritable and eventually began losing weight. We monitored her symptoms for a month or two and nothing seemed to be improving.
At the time, Jade was the lead in her school play and was in the midst of a busy, meet-filled gymnastics season. We attributed many of her symptoms to her busy schedule and difficult physical training. We justified everything because we were unaware of the symptoms of Type 1 Diabetes. I said, “you’re dehydrated from everything you’re doing and using the bathroom a lot because you’re drinking a lot”; “the leg cramps and pain under your rib are from the play rehearsals and gymnastics practice”; “you have dry, itchy skin because it’s winter.” What I couldn’t justify was her weight loss and that’s when we went to the doctor.
A finger stick and urine sample told it all! Her blood sugar was about 550 and she had ketones. At the time I had no idea what that meant. The doctor told my husband, “I think she has Type 1 Diabetes, you need to take her to the ER”. She was almost a textbook case except for the leg cramps (which no one has been able to explain but they quickly went away once she began getting insulin). Jade and I spent the next 5 days in the hospital lowering her blood sugar, getting rid of her ketones, becoming educated on what T1D is and how to manage it. To me, it felt like a college course, “Diabetes 101”. We learned a tremendous amount in a short time. The doctors would give us reading material and then quiz us on it! I’ve never done so much math in my life! Counting carbs, knowing her correction factor and insulin to glucose ratio, then doing the calculation to administer the insulin. Understanding blood sugar levels – what’s considered low, high and within range? What blood sugar she needs to be at for exercise. Then we needed to put it all into practice immediately. We could not have done it without the help and support of the wonderful doctors, staff and JDRF.
Fast forward a little over a year later – Jade is now on an insulin pump and a CGM. She wears them as codes of honor and is always interested in discussing/educating others on T1D. We never stop learning. There is a lot of ignorance around T1D and the differences between Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes. She hasn’t let T1D define or stop her! This winter she was on her Varsity gymnastics team, as well as an outside of school team. This spring she is on the JV lacrosse team.
Jade is an inspiration to me and many others. At this years’ NY State gymnastics meet, after recovering from a low blood sugar of 56, Jade performed her best balance beam routine with a score of 9.3! After the event, the beam judge walked over to her, gave her the score card and with tears in her eyes, gave Jade a hug and told her she is an inspiration! What’s more wonderful than that?!
I walk for many reasons. In support of and in honor of my incredible daughter who has taken on T1D as she always does; like a champion. T1D isn’t temporary and it’s tedious but it’s manageable. I am thankful that there has been so much research and technology developed to assist those with T1D. I walk to educate and help spread awareness within the community. I walk for JDRF; for their support, education, research and the wonderful people we have met! Whenever Jade meets someone who has T1D, there is an amazing instant bond because they each know what they have to go through on a daily basis. I walk to support JDRF’s mission of turning Type 1 into Type none!
By Sarah Gorman