Once active and playful, Amar’e soon underwent unusual, major character changes when he was three years old. He began urinating frequently and, though potty trained, wetting the bed at nighttime. Eventually constant thirst and uncontrollable mood swings led the Peasters to reevaluate what might really be going on with their son.
“He started fighting with his friends at day care, which was completely out of the ordinary for him. I brought him home to talk about it and asked why he decided to fight with his friend today, and he replied ‘Mom, I don’t want to play, and I’m too tired,’” said Benita.
After hearing her young son, who previously always wanted to play with everyone, explain how he was feeling and the level of exhaustion he was experiencing, Benita knew it was time to schedule an appointment to see a pediatrician.
What she thought might be a routine visit for a urinary tract infection turned out to be, in her words, “a living nightmare for any parent.” The pediatrician checked Amar’e’s blood sugar, and the numbers were off the chart. He was admitted to the hospital immediately.
She recalled, “It was a scary day for my husband and me. We didn’t know what to do or how to react. This was the first day of the rest of our lives with type 1 diabetes.”
Benita and her husband, Sam, knew their lifestyle would need to change to reflect their son’s new circumstances but weren’t sure about the complexities his care would entail since they were unfamiliar with type 1. “There was a lot of uncertainty,” she added.
Although the family already ate relatively healthy, they still had to take steps to be more conscious about purchasing food and drinks with little to no sugar. In addition to a new diet, Benita and her family began to expand their T1D knowledge as much as possible.
“This was something new for us,” she explained. “We had no understanding on type 1 or how it affected a person. Education soon became one of my main goals.”
Since familiarizing themselves with how to treat and cope with T1D, Amar’e, now 4, is back to his playful self. He loves to ride his bike, swim and wrestle, though now, with breaks for Benita and Sam to check his OmniPod to make sure he is within normal range every three hours.
“I’m constantly learning from other T1D families,” said Benita. “When your child is in a life-threatening situation, you’ll do whatever it takes to make things right.”
In their first year, the Peasters will have roughly 10 family members join the Southeast Michigan community and participate in the JDRF One Walk to help turn Type 1 into Type None at the GM Tech Center in Metro Detroit on Sunday, Sept. 27, 2015.
JDRF One Walk is the most powerful peer-to-peer fundraising program in the world for T1D, raising more than $68 million annually. Since 1992, the event has raised more than $1 billion dollars for life-changing T1D research—research that has led to breakthrough discoveries, many of which have already moved into clinical trials and real-world testing.