The photo above is of my stepdaughter, Lianna. It was taken seven years before we met. We almost never did meet. In that photo, Lianna was mere hours from death.
It was 2006. Lianna was 11 years old and at summer camp when she became very, very ill. Her mom (now my wife, Rhonda) and her dad rushed to get her. At the hospital, they put her in intensive care and doctors made a diagnosis that shocked everyone---Lianna had Type 1 Diabetes. If she hadn't been taken to the ER, doctors said she would have been dead by midnight.
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease that occurs when the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas are destroyed. Without insulin the body cannot break down sugars into the energy needed to function, and the body essentially starves to death.
A type 1 diabetic must become their own pancreas, counting the carbs in every bite of food they eat and injecting the appropriate amount of insulin so that their body can function. They must monitor their blood glucose levels by pricking a finger to get a drop of blood to test 4 or 5 times each day.
Sometimes their blood glucose level runs high or low and they must act fast to correct it--which means some combination of stopping what they're doing (sometimes for hours), taking glucose tablets, giving themselves a shot of insulin, putting in new pump tubing, re-testing; and if they can't get it under control they have to be admitted to the hospital. If they fail to properly manage these levels, they can have seizures, go into a coma and even die. In the long term, poor management can lead to amputation of limbs and blindness.
But here's the good news: the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation is making progress toward both better treatments AND a cure. This outstanding organization funds more type 1 diabetes research than any other charity worldwide. Our family enthusiastically supports the efforts of JDRF and wants you to know that 80% of all money raised goes directly to research.
On Sunday, October 7, Lianna will be leading her team, Team Hudson (named after her first insulin pump), in the One Walk (formerly the Walk to Cure Diabetes). My personal goal as a member of Lianna's team is to raise $200, which will go toward her team goal of $1000 (since her diagnosis, Lianna's team has donated more than $15,000, all told). Here's the link to my donation page. And if someone you know and love is has T1D, join us Sunday morning at the Capitol. It's a 5K that starts at 9:30. Check-in begins at 8:00.
Please join me in taking steps toward a cure.
See you at 4 when Kitty and I get together for the KFBK Afternoon News.