Kids get Healthy Living tips at camp for diabetes
Belize Diabetes Association is establishing a registry of all children and youths afflicted with diabetes to determine how many are living with the condition. While it is not known how many youths have been affected, there are symptoms that parents and guardians can look out for including frequent urination. This week a group of more than thirty youths shared experiences on how to live with Type One diabetes. Healthy Living dropped by a camp organized by the Belize Diabetes Association.
Marleni Cuellar, Reporting
It is estimated that thirteen percent of Belize’s population is living with diabetes. However, when it comes to the younger population there is very little known. This is why the Belize Diabetes Association, along with partners from Jamaica & St Lucia, have decided to focus on the management of diabetes in youth.
Anthony Castillo, President, Belize Diabetes Association
“Presently in Belize, there are no known statistics no known records for children living with this condition. Also we are developing some protocols; some guidelines on how you treat children when they are going to the Health Care Facility and they are living with diabetes—there are certain protocols that need to be followed in treating children with this condition.”
Children are usually diagnoses as Type one diabetics which mean that little or no insulin is being produced in the body. The B.D.A. has been appealing to parents of juvenile diabetics to register their children with the association. Leolyn Stephen is one mom who is new to the organization.
Leolyn Stephen, Mother of Diabetic Child
“My son, Samuel, was diagnosed six months ago.”
“How did you find out that he had diabetes?”
“Samuel was urinating more frequent than before, using the bathroom very often and he was thirsty and hungry in the night and I realized that something was wrong.”
Leolyn took her son Samuel for a checkup and his blood sugar tested at three hundred and thirty-seven. He had to be taken to the hospital and was diagnosed with diabetes.
“I was shocked, he didn’t show any sign or symptom but I’m glad that I did it at that time.”
“How has Samuels life changed since then?”
“Well it has changed because he realizes that there are different stuffs that he cannot do and that makes him very upset. But right now he’s trying his best to cope with the situation.”
Frequent Urination is a common symptom of diabetes but it’s not always flagged as a major medical issue so some children are diagnosed when admitted for other emergencies. That was the case for juvenile diabetics: thirteen year old Daniel & fourteen year old Ragee.
Daniel Bernardez, 13 year old, Diabetic diagnosed for 4 years ago
“When I was at my father’s house I fell down and they took me to the hospital and that’s was how I was diagnosed with diabetes.”
Ragee Gillett, 14 year old, Diabetic diagnosed 3 years ago
“One day I got up and I was feeling sick and my mother took me to the nurse, she took my blood sugar test and it was four hundred and add. She told me that I had diabetes and I had to be rushed to the emergency ward for I.V.”
“Well the doctor came up to me and said that you have diabetes. I told them, what exactly that is because I had never heard about it before. They said that it’s a sickness that your pancreas cannot produce enough insulin or none at all. I was really sad.”
“What did that mean for you? How did it change your life?”
“It changed my whole lifestyle because I have to eat all categories of food. I didn’t like vegetables but now I’m coping with it.”
“When I go to school she doesn’t give me as much money, she only give me money fi buy water.”
“But you noh get tempted when you see other people eating it?”
“Yes ma’am, I still eat it sometime.”
“And what does that do to you?”
“Ker up my sugar.”
“And how does that make you feel?”
“So that mek you no wah do it again?”
Samuel, Daniel and Ragee are all participants at the B.D.A.’s summer camp. They are learning important skills for their condition and have the opportunity to meet with others who share similar challenges.
“Ih mek I feel good because I mi think dah only mi got sugar. But when I come here I get fi see how other people got sugar.”
“They go through the same thing you goh through?”
“You noh get tempted sometimes?”
“Well, now and again I sneak behind my mother’s back.”
“And what happens when you do that?”
“Well nothing really happens, but I know my sugar goes high. I learn from it because I know that I am damaging my insides so I quit it.”
“The hardest part is the eating of the food. He’s not like his friends; he’s not normal like his friends because the things they would be able to do he won’t be able to do.”
John Hoy was diagnosed at five. Fifteen years later he can relate to the experience of the younger children.
John Hoy, Diabetic
“My advice to them is once they live right, eat right, exercise right; they can do anything just like a normal person—once again in moderation. Someone who’s diabetic; not because they are diabetic they cannot eat cake or ice cream. The can eat anything just in moderation—they can’t eat the whole cake, but have a little slice and then exercise and keep healthy.”
As a musician, John is very active in the social scene. He says, it’s no challenge for him to maintain his disciplined lifestyle.
“All my friends, well you know they drink, they party, but I know my limits, I know what to take, what not to take how to manage myself. I usually become the designated driver usually, I am tempted sometimes to do things like that but everything in moderation can’t have everything at once. When I was much younger, to be honest, I never use to tell anybody I was diabetic, eventually I found out that I have to let my friends and family around me know that I am diabetic so if anything goes wrong, I go unconscious they don’t know what’s wrong with me later on they’ll find out that I was diabetic. So that barrier the kids that they learn that they have to accept that, that they are diabetic and accepting that they know how to help themselves in the future.”
“I’m certain that there may be others out there who are living with the condition but they haven’t come forward so I am appealing to the parent to the guardian, to come and get registered and there are benefits. All children receive a monitor and free strips.”
“Me being diabetic for fifteen years; I’ve learned a lot in my life so far. I think the parents should come out, should register. There’s a lot of benefits in this association—a lot of things that could help the kids and the parents when it comes to experience.”
“Once you are living with diabetes all you have to do is cope and have patience with the condition.”