Parents Talking Type 1: Keyanna Labon

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 are presenting stories from parents of children with diabetes, illustrating the emotions, challenges and successes each family faced upon diagnosis.

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Keyanna and JazellName: Keyanna Labon, mother of Jazell, age 8, diagnosed at age 4

From: Ofallon, Ill.

Jazell’s birthdays will never be the same. She began getting sick off and on a month before her fourth birthday. She was often tired and thirsty. Jazell started to vomit a lot, even if she didn’t eat anything. She also would have accidents at night. Jazell is an only child, so she is used to playing by herself. But her dad and I noticed that she wouldn’t even play at all.

March 8, 2009, was Jazell’s fourth birthday. She had a party at Fun Spot Skating Rink, one of her favorite places. She cried the whole party. She wouldn’t skate or eat. One of her aunts walked in and noticed Jazell was losing weight. She asked if she was sick and I said no, not even knowing my baby was really sick.

March 9, Jazell’s dad was dropping her off at school and noticed she wouldn’t sit up, so he brought her back home. I rushed home from work and called her doctor, who had me to bring her in later that day. The doctor ran all kinds of tests, but there was no answer. The office was about to close so she had me to take a cup home and have Jazell to pee in it, and said to bring it back tomorrow.

A hour or two after I dropped off the urine sample, the doctor said, “I need you to bring her in right now because we found sugar in her pee.” My heart broke into pieces and tears just begin to fall. When we got to the doctor’s office they began to check her blood and confirmed it was type 1 diabetes. They told us to pack a week’s worth of clothes because she would be admitted into the hospital.

When we arrived at Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center, they took tubes and tubes of blood. They came back later and said her blood glucose level was 560 mg/dl. I was so upset the whole week there, I cried and made myself sick.

Four years later, and we are still trying to manage Jazell’s diabetes. We are so protective of who keeps her and where she can go. Sometimes, as a parent, it’s hard to tell her “no, you can’t have this or that” when other kids have them. But Jazell does a great job of knowing her body when she doesn’t feel good or needs her insulin.

Jazell is such a trouper, and she explains to her family and friends all about her diabetes. She can teach you how and where to give her shots. Jazell swims on a swim team and practices Monday through Thursday. She is also the first child with diabetes at her school. Even with getting four to five shots a day, she is still a star.

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