The day my son was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes was the most terrifying day of my life. In March 2009, my husband and I had started to notice changes in our five-year old son, Braeden. He would be up all night using the washroom and begging for water. In school he was exhausted from the evening before and would break down sobbing several times throughout the day. After a trip to the doctor and a blood test, the diagnosis was confirmed. Everything would change for our family.
After learning what was wrong with Braeden, we immediately took him to the hospital. Braeden was born with a heart murmur, so he was hooked up to heart devices. Braeden’s blood sugar levels were spiking at 68, in contrast to the average blood sugar level for a child which should be between 8 and 12. Throughout that traumatic night, Braeden’s heart rate dropped out twice.
Over the next week we had to learn how to give our son needles, often up to twelve shots a day. I took a seven-month leave of absence from work just to be able to learn all of the things that I needed to know to take care of him. Braeden wasn’t able to go and play carelessly like the other kids, and he would have to bring his blood sugar checker with him wherever he went. Every day was different for Braeden; we never knew what the next day would bring.
Now, Braeden is slowly gaining more and more independence. We don’t want diabetes to limit Braeden from doing the things that he wants to do. He occasionally becomes frustrated when he wants to go outside and play normally, like the other kids, but we do our best to ensure that his lifestyle doesn’t suffer as a result of his disease. He rides a dirt bike in the summer, is an avid hockey player in the winter, and loves being outdoors.
Shortly after Braeden’s diagnosis I was introduced to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF). Initially I thought it would be a good opportunity to meet other parents and children dealing with the day-to-day life of type 1 diabetes. The cause quickly grew to become a passion of mine, and now I am the regional co-lead of the TELUS Walk to Cure Diabetes in Prince George. I desperately want to find a cure for my son, and every dollar raised at the Walk gets us closer to that goal.
The TELUS Walk to Cure Diabetes is coming up on June 8. Last year 45,000 Canadians walked for diabetes research and education, and we are hoping to beat that number this year. Your participation will help to support cutting-edge research focused on curing, better treating, and preventing type 1 diabetes, and make it possible for children like Braeden to enjoy their childhood without worrying about needles and hospital visits.
I am so proud to work for TELUS – since 2000, they have donated more than $7 million to help find a cure for type 1 diabetes. I know that we can make a difference for those living with the illness, including Braeden, and every step gets us closer to that goal.
Katie Francis is a Client Care Representative at TELUS in Prince George, BC.