Otherwise entitled: Wh y don’t you just kill my kid?
During the month of September of 2008, I noticed that my 12 year old son, Alex, was looking a little thinner than usual. He’s always been very thin, so I chalked up the obvious weight loss to a new soccer season and his recent six inch height spike in less than three months. After a week or so of soccer practices, Alex started taking a gallon milk just full of water to practice – and it was gone by the time I picked him up two hours later. It seemed odd to me, but not so off-the-wall odd that I thought he might be sick.
It wasn’t until one night when we were all sitting around the dining room table after dinner and I watched as Alex drank five full pint-size glasses of water while standing at the sink that I became really concerned. In the few days following, I noticed that Alex was exhausted after soccer, not just tired, but fall asleep in the car exhausted – even though our house was only a two minute drive from the field.
One day, Alex had to urinate so urgently that he made me pull the car over on our way up the hill to our house – he couldn’t wait another minute until we got home (luckily, we lived in a rural area then). I was very concerned and made an appointment to see the pediatrician. But then, that evening, it dawned on me – I’ll be he has diabetes. I just knew it. I’m not sure how. Something I had heard, or read just popped in my head.
I asked my husband to call his friend who has Type 1 diabetes and ask if we could use his meter to test Alex’s blood sugar the next morning. I knew from being pregnant so often – and from being a nursing assistant at one point in my life – that a normal blood sugar shouldn’t be higher than 140 or so. I made Alex fast all night. It was painful for him because he was starving. But he did it, and the next morning, after a 12 hour fast, his blood sugar was 276. Shockingly high for not having eaten at all.
It was a Sunday, though, so I called the emergency room ahead of time and asked if I should bring him in. They told me to bring him in right away. Since Alex was so hungry, I made him a peanut butter sandwich and gave him an apple for the ride. Two hours later, by the time we got into the exam room, Alex’s blood sugar was 737 - high enough to almost put him in a coma!
Alex was admitted to the hospital and immediately started receiving injections of insulin and plenty of fluids to rehydrate him. He weighed 109 pounds. He had a sports physical in August, before soccer started, and he weighed 120 pounds. For a boy who is 5 foot 8 inches tall, it was a shocking weight loss…he looked like an emaciated waif. According to the Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center, where Alex was diagnosed, “In Type 1 (a.k.a. juvenile-onset or insulin dependent) diabetes, your body completely stops making the hormone insulin. Everybody needs insulin to survive! It allows your body to use sugar (glucose) found in foods for energy. Without insulin sugar gets stuck in the blood and is unable to enter the cells to make energy. Because people with Type 1 diabetes can’t produce insulin, they are required to take insulin every day.
In Type 2 diabetes, on the other hand, insulin is still being produced, but it does not work well. The body is unable to keep the sugar in the blood within a “normal” range. Type 2 diabetes is treated initially with meal planning and exercise. Sometimes medications need to be added to keep blood glucoses in the “target” range.
Recently, I have seen a flood of articles and movies advertised on the Internet and books advertised on TV, that claim to be able to “cure” diabetes. The claims are made that all diabetes can be cured – without making the distinction between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes.
How many times have I written an email begging for an author to get the facts on Type 1 diabetes before making such a claim. Type 1 diabetes is an auto-immune disorder that cannot be cured by eating less sugar. If Alex eats an apple – or a banana – his blood sugar can skyrocket if it’s not compensated for appropriately.
Everyone needs insulin to survive. Alex’s beta cells killed his insulin-producing pancreas. You can’t fix that by going on the Atkins’ Diet – as some have suggested. Or a raw food diet. Raw foods have some sugars in them. I would invite those who believe that all diabetes is the same to come to my house one day and watch as Alex stabs his finger before every meal and snack to check his blood sugar – and every time he feels “low.” A low blood sugar could potentially kill him. He could have a seizure. No one with Type 2 diabetes is in danger of dying from a low.
I then would ask you to watch as Alex calculates how many carbohydrates were in the meal he ate, and then gives himself another shot to compensate. I hope that the authors of these diabetes-cure articles aren’t squeamish as they watch Alex grimace in pain when he puts insulin into his already muscular and this arms or legs. Or as he gives himself a dose of his once a day Lantus, which keeps him on fairly steady rate of insulin throughout the day.
Please take your raw food diets to the diabetes clinic where 1700 kids in the state of Wisconsin alone poke themselves at least five times a day everyday and inject themselves or wear insulin pumps so that they can survive. I’m sure their parents would be happy to not have to worry about the blood sugar low seizures – or the possibility of glucagon injections to bring their children back to life.
What I would like to know most from people who claim these diets work for “all” diabetics, is this: After watching my child almost starve to death, after paying over $500 a month for insulin plus the various apparatus that goes with it, and after watching my child have to give himself painful injections five times a day everyday for the rest of his life, if there was actually a way to cure his disease with the eating of salad – don’t you think I would have done it by now?