Diabetes affects the whole family, whether you’re a parent, sibling, child, grandchild or spouse. This week on the blog, we’ll be featuring stories about loving and caring for someone with diabetes.
Name: Dawn Rosett Alirez
Location: Anchorage, Alaska
April 4, 2008, was a day we thought we had a flu-stricken four-year-old. We left work early, picked Arianna up from daycare and headed home. We called the pediatrician and they told us the stomach flu was going around and to make sure she didn’t get dehydrated.
When putting Arianna to bed later that night, we noticed she was breathing differently. We Googled “heavy breathing” and information about respiratory infections came up. So at about 11 p.m. we headed to the emergency room.
After about five minutes Arianna was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. She was admitted to PICU because she was in diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). The first 12 hours she was in a coma; after the priest came to pray with us twice, she finally woke up. We were in the hospital for five days total. During our stay, we were visited by doctors and nurses who taught us an abundance of information about diabetes.
Our lives changed the day our daughter was diagnosed. No one on either side of our family has diabetes, so everything was so new and different for us. We learned how to draw up insulin in a syringe, give shots, prick fingers, measure all food, count carbohydrates, test blood glucose and check for ketones. Arianna quickly learned how to tell when she has low blood glucose, but still has difficulty with the highs.
After about a year of quarterly doctor visits and excellent control of her diabetes (great A1Cs!), Arianna was ready to switch to the pump. We chose the Animas Ping, mainly because Arianna wanted a pink-colored one and they had it. She has been pumping since she was five and is doing great!
Arianna has gone to the American Diabetes Association’s Camp K every summer since she was six (four years now). She loves it there. We love that this is the one time each year she is surrounded by other kids who deal with the daily life of having diabetes, something our family can’t give her.
When we found out about Alaska’s first Step Out: Walk to Stop Diabetes ®, we registered and became team Triple A (that stands for Arianna Abigail Alirez). We participate in Step Out to raise awareness for diabetes, to get active, to bring our family and friends together, to show Arianna that we support her, and to raise money so our daughter doesn’t have to live with diabetes anymore.
Arianna has raised a total of $22,000 in four years of walking and been the event’s top fundraiser the last three years! In 2013, Arianna was even ambassador for the walk. We have had so much fun walking for a cause that means so much to our family. We are extremely fortunate for the family and friends in our lives; without them we wouldn’t be where or who we are today.
Arianna is the most remarkable person we have ever met and she’s only ten! We have never met someone so young who has such a positive outlook in life. She doesn’t let her diabetes stand in her way. She truly is our hero.
Still, it breaks our hearts that Arianna has to deal with this disease on a daily basis and there’s nothing we can do to take it away. She is the reason we walk to Stop Diabetes®. She is the reason there needs to be a cure for diabetes.