Parents Talking Type 1: Karen Foos

Diabetes is a disease that affects the whole family, especially when a child is diagnosed. Parents of children diagnosed with diabetes face overwhelming, and sometimes frightening, questions such as: How can I strike the balance between caring and hovering? Will she ever be able to eat sweets again? How will I ever be able to let him go out on his own?

All week long, we will present stories from parents of children with diabetes, illustrating the emotions, challenges and successes each family faced upon diagnosis.

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Karen with Maya on the  right and Maya's sister on left.

Karen with Maya on the right and Maya’s sister on left.

Name: Karen Foos, mother of Maya, age 13, diagnosed at age 7

From: Auburn, N.Y.

My shy, insecure daughter was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2008 at age 7. She is now 13 and doing okay with it. She has been on the pump since 2009.

She was diagnosed the day after her sister’s birthday, during which she had a large chocolate brownie with frosting to celebrate. We knew something wasn’t right, but we thought it was a virus that she couldn’t get rid of. She had acidic breath (which we now know is a sign of diabetic ketoacidosis) and she was drinking a lot and having accidents at night, but we put off going to the doctor because she had no fever.

I knew excessive thirst was a sign of diabetes due to my dad having type 2 and my own research. Once we realized how much weight Maya had lost, we took her to the doctor. We were planning to wait until her sister’s appointment the next week, but I am so glad we didn’t.

Maya is still shy and insecure about many things, but I think managing her diabetes has made her more confident in knowing her body and talking to me about changes she feels. She tries to hide it when she is testing to not draw attention to herself. Most times I have to ask if she checked her numbers because she is so discreet and quick about it. Still, diabetes doesn’t define her.

My fear with my daughter’s diabetes is that she runs very high. I worry about the long-term effects of such a high A1C all the time. I know she can live a long, healthy life if we can get this under control, but I don’t know how to do that.

Every day I wish I had diabetes instead of Maya. I continue to hope for a cure. Until then, I will advocate for her, participate in the Tour de Cure and give her the chance to go to ADA Camp Aspire (in Rush, N.Y.).

Thanks for offering us a chance to tell Maya’s story.

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8 Responses to Parents Talking Type 1: Karen Foos

  1. stefanny says:

    🙂

  2. Connie Stuart says:

    I am a type 1 diagnosed 57 years ago. I remember being so sick and was hospitalized. When I went into ketoacidosis, I was diagnosed. I remember my mother just sitting there crying when the doctor told her. The doctor told her that if she gave me the shots and made me keep on a 1500 a day calorie diet that I could probably live 40 more years. My mother gave me my shots and if I spent the night with a friend, she would come and get me and give me my shot. When I was 13, my parents made me go out of state to a diabetic camp because my state at that time did not have one. This was where I learned to give my own shots and discovered plastic syringes and disposable needles. I learned so much those 2 weeks and came home fully able to take care of myself. I refused to return again to camp because of a deal that had been made with my parents, but now I so appreciate all that I learned there. I was given the privilege of being able to obtain 2 college degrees and spent my working career as a medical technologist having been inspired by Jim and Betty that worked in our hospital lab and would let me look under their microscopes when I would go in for glucose to be drawn. As soon as insulin pumps came out, a friend from work called me on my day off and told me about a lady that spoke at a meeting about the pump at the hospital where I worked. I told my grandparents about this and they paid for my first pump. My doctor and I learned about it together.
    I feel so fortunate to have had a child in 1978 although he had to be in a newborn critical care nursery
    for 3 weeks before he could maintain a normal glucose having been born hypoglycemic. He has been healthy since then except for allergies and sinus infections. He has been another advocate for me since he was a toddler and would tell me that I was acting funny and needed to get something to eat. At that age, he could tell when I was hypoglycemic and still can.
    Each day I pray for a cure for diabetes and with the research that is being done, I think that day will come. I am so thankful for parents, grandparents, a brother, a son, helpful coworkers, and a special best friend for helping me so much with my diabetes for the last almost 57 years.
    I realize that this letter was not what was asked for but I felt that I needed to let you know about my wonderful and helpful family. My mother now has dementia and no longer uses a computer.

  3. Karen says:

    Connie, I so appreciate your story, especially knowing the challenges of diabetes were even harder when you were diagnosed!! I am grateful for he advancement of medicine that Maya can have a normal life. It’s wonderful to hear from people like you who have lived a full life with diabetes. It makes me feel better knowing Maya can still live a long time if she keeps herself healthy. At 13, THAT IS A CHALLENGE!! She loves her carbs! I will always worry about certain things, like her eyesight getting worse already. I don’t have diabetes & my eyesight is bad, so I hate to think of her battling diabetes & bad eyes. Ugh! But again, if we stay on top of things & she learns how to better care for herself, then we know she will be ok. Knowing you had a baby & that he grew up healthy is comforting for me as well. There is so much I want for Maya and its nice knowing she can experience life for a log time, just like you are continuing to do.

  4. Connie Stuart says:

    So glad that my story was of benefit to you mothers and dads that are raising diabetic children. You have an awesome responsibility and my prayers are with you and your awesome diabetic children.

  5. Don Delaney says:

    Karen,
    I remember when I found out that Maya had diabetes. I tried to encourage you both as I knew that it changes your life, because it has changed mine too. Both of you should never be shy or insecure about diabetes. Learn as much as you can from the Doctors and Nurses and learn from your own body what it takes to get your diabetes under control, take charge of it and don’t let it take charge of you! Don’t be too boxed in by the rules and regimes, some of them are good, but some of them are over bearing and we have to live our lives. You can do it!
    It has been 31 years since I was diagnosed, and have been insulin dependent for 30 of those years. I have by no means been perfect in my control but I still have no nerve problems, only the slightest sign in my eyes (just enough for the doc to tell that I have had diabetes for 30 years), and my kidneys are great. God has blessed me!

  6. Shawn says:

    Karen,

    Maya’s story is similar to my granddaughter who was diagnosed at age 7- just one week after her sister was born. She too is extremely shy and has an anxiety disorder. Sounds like Maya is doing well and it is helpful to read Tories about other children in similar situations. Thank you for sharing.

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