Healthy Living: Children with Type 1 diabetes
Type 1 diabetes is an auto-immune disease. Doctors aren't sure what causes it, but it usually manifests itself in early childhood. Our Katie Gibas has the story of two young Type 1 diabetics.
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Frankie Palladino and Justin Henson look like normal eight- and nine-year-olds. But what you can't see is they're both Type 1 diabetics.
"Before we knew I had Type 1 diabetes, I kept getting shaky,” said Frankie Palladino, a Type 1 diabetic.
"I like didn't really want to eat and I kept losing weight," said Justin Henson, also a Type 1 diabetic.
Type 1 diabetes is an auto-immune disease. Doctors aren't sure what causes it. It usually manifests itself in early childhood. Both Frankie and Justin were diagnosed when they were six.
"That's the hardest part is the first year you're in a total fog and dealing with the grief," said Patty Palladino, who is Frankie’s mother.
"I knew at that point that his life was forever changed," said Erica Henson, Justin’s mother.
Even though there isn't a cure, Frankie and Justin have learned to manage their symptoms with insulin. They have to check their blood sugar by pricking their finger several times a day and then either have a snack or take an injection of insulin.
"Watching them get on the bus, and knowing that they aren't there with you. You don't have control. You don't get to be right there when they check their blood sugar and get to make that decision," said Michelle Dart, NP Certified Diabetes Educator.
Frankie and Justin say one of the most frustrating things about the disease is the misconceptions people have about it.
"They're asking me, 'What's that cord for?' or 'Why are you going to the nurse so much?'" said Justin.
"I want people to know that they don't have to ask me if I'm okay all the time," said Frankie.
"The biggest misconception I find is people think he can prevent it or he can change it with a miracle diet that will cure him," said Patty.
That's why advocates say increased education and awareness are crucial.
"If they have high blood sugars all day long, that's going to affect their long-term complications, so if the school personnel doesn't really understand it, it's going to be hard to manage it well at school," said Dart.
As for Frankie and Justin, they aren't letting Type 1 get in the way of living a fun, active lifestyle.