Kristen Farrar will never forget the day she knew she needed to get her daughter Emily, then 4 years old, in to see a doctor. Kristen was in the kitchen getting Emily a cup of water, when Emily had an uncharacteristic temper tantrum over the color of the cup. The incident followed a couple of days of Emily not feeling well at pre-school or acting like herself at home. She seemed constantly thirsty and began wetting the bed.
Leading up to the doctor appointment, Kristen recalled a video posted to Facebook by her friend Jennifer Rass (of Team Rass) regarding Jennifer’s son Ethan’s T1D symptoms and diagnosis. Suddenly, a light bulb went off. On the way to the pediatrician’s the possibility of a T1D diagnosis crossed her mind.
She explained her concern to their pediatrician, and a blood and urine test revealed a blood sugar level of 582 mg/dL. Emily was admitted to the hospital for a three-day stay. Though Kristen’s husband has three adult cousins with type 1 diabetes, they had not experienced T1D through a close relative or themselves until Emily’s diagnosis. They were sent home with prescriptions, shots, a blood glucose meter, insulin and a booklet on how to navigate through the first few months of diagnosis.
“It was so overwhelming,” said Kristen. “My husband and I went through, and are still sometimes going through, a grieving process for what we thought Emily’s childhood would be, but we do whatever it takes because diabetes is not Emily.”
Being a social worker, Kristen is used to seeking out resources for the families she serves, so she turned to the Internet and friend Jennifer Rass, discovering JDRF. She requested a Bag of Hope, with Rufus the Bear with Diabetes®.
Emily, now 7, has had an insulin pump and a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) for the past year, which helps her monitor her sugar levels and enter in her carbohydrate counts herself during the day at school (though Kristen can check her readings via smartphone throughout the day). The CGM has been life-changing for the family, eliminating the needs for blood checks during the night, since the monitor will sound an alarm if sugar levels fluctuate too much.
“T1D has become a part of our lives. Typical childhood events, such as a friend’s birthday party, treats at school or going to the pool, means planning ahead so Emily can attend those events with ease. As a child, she should not have to shoulder this responsibility, so we take that on for her. We don’t talk about ‘good numbers’ or ‘bad numbers,’ just a level that will make her feel better.”
At Jennifer’s encouragement the family decided to participate in JDRF One Walk, knowing that as a family, they wanted to do all they can to raise T1D awareness. They formed Team Emily and began fundraising three years ago, including raising funds with a neighborhood lemonade stand and virtual garage sales.
“Emily calls it ‘her walk,’ asking us when her walk will ‘get here,’” said Kristen. “It’s great to be surrounded by others who know and understand T1D and our situation. It’s such a comfort to Emily to participate.”
Each year, more than 900,000 people across the country participate in JDRF One Walk. Support helps fund T1D research to help those living with T1D, and eventually eliminate the disease to turn Type One into Type None. For more information on the JDRF One Walk and how to participate, please visit the JDRF One Walk event page.