November marks the month for diabetes awareness.
6-year-old Julia Chapman of Kirksville was diagnosed with type one diabetes on April Fool's day three years ago.
Diabetes attacks insulin producing cells in the pancreas. Julia wears an insulin pump in a fanny pack around her waist, as an alternative to insulin shots, to manage her diabetes.
A tiny wire goes from the insulin pump, up her arm and goes into her skin. The tube stays there constantly giving her the insulin she needs. The tube site does need changed every couple of days to make sure it does not get an infection.
Julia and Nurse Shelly Western, from the Kirksville Primary School, have become great friends. Julia was in her office over 1,092 times for her diabetes.
Nurse Shelly said, "The most important thing we have to pay attention to is how Julia looks, feels and is acting. We want people to be aware of children with diabetes because a lot of times children can not tell you when their blook sugars are low, or if they are having symptoms."
For a first grade student, Julia has an amazing awareness of her diabetes. She knows exactly when her blood sugars are off.
Julia's symptoms include a stomach ache and she'll drift off into 'la la land'. Other symptoms that children can get when their blood sugars are off can include their skin gets pale, they become tired, and their hands can begin to shake. Blood sugar levels need to be checked when symptoms start occuring, and can be treated with the correct amount of insulin. Symptoms that are left uncared for can result in children becoming unconscious and beyond.
Anytime that Julia eats a meal or a snack, she must enter in the amount of carbohydrates within those foods. The pump will calculate the right amount of insulin. That is one benefit to wearing an insulin pump. If one does not have an insulin pump, they must undergo insulin injections throughout the day. Children who get shots have a strict diet plan, and can not eat snacks or extra foods. They can not have the extra food because the additional carbohydrates will cause their blood sugars to become high, and they can not treat that in school. Children who do not have a pump have to be extra careful when they exercise as well. Too much exercise can cause their blood sugars to be low. However exercise is important, so it is a difficult balance.
Julia is in Nurse Shelly's office a minimum of three times a day checking her blood sugars. If they are high, they enter insulin to bring her blood sugars down into a normal range. Anytime she has a low blood sugar she has to stay with Nurse Shelly for 15 to 20 minutes until it is rechecked, and proves to be back in the desired range.
Nurse Shelly is very proud of Julia because it is such a great accomplishment for children with diabetes to be able to notice their signs and take care of themselves.
Melissa Chapman, Julia's mother said, "I think it TMs very important for parents to include their child in the management of their own diabetes as much as possible. Work together to try to develop independence."
Melissa said that is very frustrating and can feel overwhelming at times. She said that if you stick to the program, eventually it will become part of your day to day routine.
Every year for the past three years on April Fool TMs day Julia TMs family celebrates. They go see a movie, go to dinner or do something fun to celebrate that Julia is healthy. Instead of April Fool's day being a sad day, it is a day they are grateful because they know Julia is going to be okay.