'Nothing prepares you': Mum shares reality of child's life with Type 1 diabetes

Photo: Instagram/JediandLuke
Photo: Instagram/JediandLuke 

"My eyes! Something is wrong with eyes!" 

They're the words that made mum, Dorrie, of Saving Luke's heart drop. Her son, Luke, who has diabetes type 1, was screaming, slumped on the kitchen bench and pounding the table.

"I can't see anything anymore."

In a post for Love What Matters, Dorrie explains how quickly her son went from "fine to not fine" in just a few minutes, on what began as a normal morning.

"Every morning Luke wakes up, we test his blood sugar, we give insulin, and he eats breakfast," she writes. "Our service dog Jedi alerted he was a little low at the first test (72), but he was going to eat. So, this shouldn't have been an issue as we have gone into 1000's of meals exactly the same way."

But today was different.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Luke and Jedi (@lukeandjedi) on

"Luke ate and everything seemed just as it usually was until Jedi started to alert again and I went to gather Luke's kit to test him again.

And that's when Luke began to scream.

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"I've seen this twice before in eight years," Dorrie writes. "Something is wrong. He's starting to get confused and agitated. It's almost like I'm not even talking to him, he's in there but this…it just isn't him."

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Luke and Jedi (@lukeandjedi) on

But despite "feeling sick", the mum willed herself to stay focused and calm, "because he is neither of those things."

"I know I have to hurry and get to him before I can't get him to cooperate."

Spurred into action, Dorrie puts the straw into his mouth. "I calmly try to reason with him and put the straw in his mouth and ask him to drink. He takes a tiny sip. He yells at me. I know he's starting to lose control. I tell him it will be ok as he starts to drink a little."

Her son still can't see, putting his head down on the table.

"I convince him to drink more and eventually I get him to eat a few glucose tabs as well. At that point, I tested his blood sugar because I had done everything I needed to do and now we had to test and wait," she continues.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Luke and Jedi (@lukeandjedi) on

Luke was at 24 - a normal blood sugar is 80 -120.

"We all need glucose in our blood for our body to function," Dorrie explains. "Twenty-four is a very low blood count and his body was starting to shut down. That's why he couldn't see or focus or even stand. It would have gotten much worse if we didn't get sugar into his system fast enough."

For the next 30 minutes as she tried to console her son, Dorrie's mind raised with "what-ifs" adding that she was trying not to worry about what would have happened if he was alone.

"Would someone think he brought it on himself and not be empathetic to his situation? "she writes. "Would someone help him if he started to yell and be uncooperative? What about when he's older? Would they assume he was on drugs or drunk? Would they get him help in time?"

Just an hour later, Luke was back at school playing with his friends. "You would never have known anything had happened looking at him. He doesn't remember most of the details of what happened."

And yet, Dorrie writes, "he knows it happened, he knows how bad it felt, and I know, it's etched into my brain and my heart."

She continues: "Diabetes is always there, we don't live in fear, but we live with the reality that things like this can happen. Sometimes when we least expect it."

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Luke and Jedi (@lukeandjedi) on

For the mum, sharing Luke's story is critical to ensure others who live with condition don't feel alone - and to raise awareness so others know what to do in a crisis.

"I share because people should know what to look for and how to help and and support the millions of people who live with this every day of their lives. I know this has happened to others out there. I know we aren't alone. We need awareness."

Over the past few years, Dorrie has chronicled the journey of Luke and his service dog, Jedi, who is trained to smell the chemical body changes that occur as insulin levels increase or drop.  These special pets then alert a child's parents or guardian who can check blood sugar level and take action.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Luke and Jedi (@lukeandjedi) on

According to Diabetes Australia, there are 11,000 school-age children living with Type 1 diabetes in the country. It is caused by the body not having enough insulin and is a chronic illness with no cure.  Type 1 diabetes is treated by replacing the insulin and managing blood glucose levels. 

Symptoms include:

  • extreme thirst
  • constant hunger
  • sudden weight loss
  • frequent urination 
  • blurred vision
  • nausea and vomiting
  • lethargy (feeling very tired).

"Managing type 1 diabetes is a 24/7 job,' says Diabetes Australia. "It impacts everything a child does from what they eat, to the sport they play, to sleep overs and even play time."

Next year, a new program, Diabetes in School, will be rolled out to support teachers and parents and help children with diabetes thrive at school.

Find more information here: