A Red Strider Story

The following is a guest post from Lynn Collins, team captain of Team PB&J from the Long Island Step Out.


My experience with type 1 diabetes began in January of 1998, when my mother was first diagnosed at the age of 47. So, when my four-year-old son was diagnosed 13 years later, I thought I knew everything there was to know.

Boy, was I wrong.COLLINS START

I watched my mother take brisk walks to bring down her high blood glucose levels. I watched my father attend to her when her levels were low. I watched her test her blood glucose many times each day. She was a perfectionist, and her control was excellent. What I missed were the dangerously low levels, the battles with food, and the period of adjustment when she had to learn to manage her diabetes and give herself shots.

In the summer of 2011, when my son Patrick lost a bit of weight, asked for drinks frequently and was in and out of the bathroom regularly, my mom knew that he had type 1 diabetes. I swore that it was just the summer time. He was thinner because he was out playing all day. He was thirsty because he played so hard. He urinated frequently because he had so much to drink. I had myself convinced that he was just fine, but my mom was relentless. When my husband Paul made an appointment with the pediatrician so we could get my mom off our backs, we got the surprise of our lives.

Those four days in the hospital were quite a whirlwind. We met with doctors and nurses and nutritionists. The amount of information we left there with was overwhelming. We learned to stick Patrick’s finger for regular blood glucose checks and draw insulin from a vile before giving him a shot. (That was scary!) We learned how to count carbohydrates. But there was still so much to learn. Living our “new normal” was not easy for any of us.

We are blessed that Patrick is so strong. From the first day of his diagnosis, Patrick was a champ. He rarely complains, and he has accepted his diabetes as part of his life. He has taken such ownership of it. He explains to anyone who will listen what it means for him to have it: his pancreas doesn’t work, he needs to take insulin, he has to count his carbohydrates and he can’t always eat what everyone else is eating. It takes forever to get through the grocery store with him because he reads nutrition labels on everything! He checks his own blood glucose and has even learned to bolus himself with his pump. He makes us so proud every day.

For as proud of Patrick as Paul and I are, our hearts break on a regular basis. His diabetes interferes with so much. He can’t always eat like the other kids at parties. He is pulled off the soccer field for blood glucose checks. Sometimes he can’t take the bus to or from school because his levels are too low. Once he was unable to leave school with his class for a field trip because he was low. He misses class time because of frequent visits to the nurse’s office. His fingertips are calloused from all the finger sticks. No matter how much he eats (and he eats a lot!) he doesn’t seem to gain weight.

Within weeks of Patrick’s diagnosis, my family became involved with the American Diabetes Association. We formed Team PB&J and walked in Step Out: Walk to Stop Diabetes. We continue to walk and stay involved because we hope that someday Patrick, and the thousands of other kids like him, will not have to live with diabetes anymore. We walk to spread awareness. We walk for an easier life for our son. We walk in hope of a cure. We walk to support the millions of people who live with diabetes every day.

You too can walk for the millions of people with diabetes. If you have diabetes, you can become a Red Strider like our son, Patrick. Won’t you join us?

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2 Responses to A Red Strider Story

  1. Darlene Lyons says:

    Thanks for your candid description of all that you and your family is/are going through with your little son. I was diagnosed at age 59 and it was a “life changing” event. It does change your whole life and it definitely effects the whole family. This chronic disease does effect your whole life, and it will never be the same, but as you get adjusted to it you will adapt. Your little son will do fine, and he is on the pump–amazing!!! Keep up all that you are doing, one day your little son will look back and be so thankful for all you have taught him. You are doing a GREAT job !!!

  2. Ma Cristina C Danac-Delfin says:

    Hi! I empathise with you for I too have a daughter who was diagnosed to have Type I DM at age 11. She went into DKA and was in critical care for sometime. But now she’s doing ok and after 2 and 1/2 years of insulin by injection, she has now an insulin pump which gave her more flexibility and freedom. Though it has been quite a routine for her, still there are moments when we her parents feel a twinge seeing her take her cbg which is still an ave. of 4x a day. And yes, we sometimes feel sorry for her for not being able to taste the usual sweets that her friends freely eat. It hurts. In this part of our world, having DM is quite expensive and with not much support from the government. You are lucky that your government is able to help you financially. We are with you in hoping that a cure be found for Type I DM. We are praying for that. God bless you all!

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