Children with Type 1 diabetes, as well as their families, will have the opportunity to meet others in the community during an upcoming workshop.
Wheeling Hospital will host its second annual Our Diabetes Journey for Parents and Kids from 10 a.m. to noon today in Conference Rooms C and D at Wheeling Hospital.
According to Dr. Amy Jean, pediatric endocrinologist at Wheeling Hospital's Center for Pediatrics, the workshop is sponsored by Sanofi, the company that supplies Wheeling Hospital with insulin. Our Diabetes Journey will feature a child/parent mentoring team from Spokane, Wash. The mother and daughter, chosen for successfully managing and monitoring blood sugar levels, will speak to the crowd.
Photo by Rebecca Olsavsky
Dr. Amy Jean, pediatric endocrinologist at Wheeling Hospital’s Center for Pediatrics, manages an insulin pump.
Jean believes that it is important for children with Type 1 diabetes "to relate to other kids."
"I have a lot of families with Type 1 diabetes," Jean said. "Families like to meet other families."
Also, Jean said it is helpful for families to witness an ideal example of dealing with Type 1 diabetes, an auto-immune disease that never goes away for those who have it.
Jean, who works with youth ranging from as young as two-years-old to as old as 19, added regardless of age, it is important for Type 1 diabetics to "have a support network." Beyond connecting with her patients and their families, Jean developed a forum for such networking by founding the Ohio Valley Blue Donuts, a Type 1 diabetes teen support group.
Referencing misconceptions, Jean said that treating Type 1 diabetes is not about "losing weight and eating healthy." Treatments involve all injectable insulin, and Type 1 diabetics are still able to have a varied diet if they monitor their carbohydrate intake.
"It's all about counting carbs," Jean said.
Three key symptoms of the disease, according to Jean, are excess urination, thirst and weight loss.
New technology has helped motivate families. Jean warns, however, that because insulin pumps make managing Type 1 diabetes easier, patients need to ensure they do not become lazy in checking their blood sugar.
"I'm willing to take the chance," Jean said. "It's not going to hurt to at least try the pump."
Jean said kids must check their blood sugar before every meal. For those who attend school, monitoring blood sugar may prove an obstacle both because teachers and school nurses may not fully understand the disease and students may feel embarrassed about their condition.
"Without guidance, it's tough," Jean said.
Yet, Jean still believes schools are a great place to create awareness. She has found that, locally, there have been multiple efforts to support Type 1 diabetics. For example, Sam's Club held a fundraiser and donated $5,000 to Type 1 diabetic youth at Wheeling Hospital.
"People care about diabetes, especially when they hear children have it," Jean said.
Jean added that local challenges still exist. In addition to insulin pumps and test strips being expensive, families relying on Medicaid struggle financially when they think they need to buy special foods for their Type 1 diabetic.