My name is Brad and I am 5 years old. On March 11, 2014, I was diagnosed with Type I Diabetes. I don't have diabetes because I don't eat good food or because I don't exercise. I love to play basketball and broccoli is my favorite food. I can't change my diabetes. Type I means that some bad cells attacked the good cells in my pancreas and now it is broken. There is nothing that can fix my pancreas. It can't make any insulin anymore and people need insulin to live. I will have it my whole life, unless my doctors can find a cure.
Last March I went camping with my family but I didn't have a good time. I felt so sad. My belly hurt the whole time, I felt so tired and no matter how much water I drank, I was still so thirsty all of the time. I just wanted to go home. A couple of days later, I couldn't stop throwing up. My mommy was very worried and said we needed to go to the hospital. I had only been to the hospital once before then. Everything happened so fast.
Brad was triaged within minutes. Based on his symptoms and the fact the nurse could not even get a read on his blood sugar because it was off the charts, it was clear that Brad was DKA (diabetic ketoacidosis), which can result in coma, organ failure and death. He was immediately transferred to pediatric ICU and the doctor looked me in the eyes and said, "Every hour of the next few hours matters." She didn't have to say anything else, Brad's life was on the line.
I didn't understand what was happening to me. There were all of these machines and I had all kinds of wires attached to me. The nurses put needles in my arms and tubes that sent bags of stuff into my body. There were so many beeping sounds and alarms. I couldn't really stay awake, I was so tired and I felt so bad.
I was in the hospital for a whole week. My room was awesome! Everyone kept bringing me presents and coming to visit. I had my own television with a wireless keyboard and I could watch any movie I wanted! There was a play room for me to go with my brother and play with all kinds of games and toys. My mommy got to sleep over in my room everynight on a couch that turned into a bed. I even got to order room service whenever I wanted. The nurse told me that I could have protein whenever I wanted so my favorite snacks to order were rollups, either turkey and cheese or ham and cheese. I also got to drink as much crystal light as I wanted because it was sugar-free. Lemonade is my favorite.
After mommy and daddy learned how to take care of me, we all went back home. I didn't go back to school right away because I just wanted to be home. Once I started to feel better and we figured out how diabetes worked, I went back to see my friends - it was 2 weeks before I would turn 5! I had a pirate bounce house at my party.
Over the past year, Brad has shown us exactly what courage is. I am only the cheerleader and temporary voice of the greatest warrior that I will know in my lifetime. We are constantly learning what we need to care for Brad and no two days are ever the same in diabetes management. We have good days, bad days and days that you just can't explain the numbers. Our lives revolve around numbers - insulin to carb ratios, boluses, blood glucose readings & ketone readings just to name a few. I hated math in school but I really despise it now. I need a calculator to give my kid a homecooked meal.
As a family we have begun to research so many different avenues and ways to help Brad be a normal, "healthy" kid. We have been fortunate enough to learn about Heads Up Hounds, a Nebraska-based company, that specializes in training rescue dogs to be diabetic alert dogs (DADs). Dogs that are otherwise given up or not wanted are given second chances to be a hero in life of a diabetic. Brad's dog will be specifically hand selected for him and will be taught to notify an adult (eventually Brad) when there is a rapid rise or fall in his blood sugar. Brad will be able to check his blood sugar and in doing so, will be better able to manage his disease. We will hopefully be able to prevent dangerous lows, especially during sleep, that put Brad's life in danger on an almost daily basis. We will be able to prevent high blood sugars that can, over time, lead to serious diabetes complications. Most importantly, this DAD will be Brad's companion to comfort him and make him feel safe.
Over the next year, we hope to be able to raise enough money to go get Brad's DAD from Nebraska and bring him home as the newest member of Brad's Team.