Youth with Diabetes – How to decide if your child should go back to school

We hear Youth with Diabetes’ position statement on whether sending your child with diabetes back to school is a good idea.


Two large studies from England have just been released on COVID19 and diabetes. Because of this new information, Youth with Diabetes is adjusting our recommendations about going back to school. Please use this new advice to help you decide if you will be sending your child back to school.

The studies show that people with Type 1 diabetes are more at risk of dying from COVID-19 than those with Type 2 diabetes.

After taking into account age, sex, heart disease, socioeconomic status and race, people with Type 1 diabetes are almost three times more likely to die from COVID-19 than those without diabetes. (Hazard ratio of 2,86).

If your HbA1c is more than 10,0%, you are twice more likely to die than if your HbA1c was less than 7,5%. (Hazard ratio of 2,19).

It is important to note that age is the most important risk factor, even if you have diabetes. In these studies, no one with Type 1 diabetes under the age of 50 has died. Most of the COVID-19 deaths in Type 1 diabetes have been in the age group of over 70 years.

Other risk factors that contribute to increased risk of death for people with Type 1 diabetes are obesity and chronic kidney disease.

All this information means that you can reduce your risk by getting your blood glucose level under control and losing weight if you are obese.

Here are the links to read the full research articles:

https://www.england.nhs.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/valabhji-COVID-19-and-Diabetes-Paper-1.pdf

https://www.england.nhs.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/Valabhji-COVID-19-and-Diabetes-Paper-2-Full-Manuscript.pdf

Header image by FreePik

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Esther Rodrigues – My hero calls me Mom

Esther Rodrigues, a T1D Mom, shares the joys of seeing her son, Mikyle, celebrate his 21st birthday.


Esther Rodrigues stays in Cape Town with her husband, Antonio, and  their three children, Kelsey, Mikyle and Jayden.

I am a T1D Mom, who is exceptionally proud of my son, Mikyle Rodrigues, who turned 21 on 20 May 2020.

Mikyle is a strong T1D Warrior who never gives up. In his quiet confidence, he has the strength of a lion, a will to survive and a burning desire to overcome all obstacles in his way.

Currently, my son’s life consists of studies, exercise, eating lots of food, playing PS4 and managing his Type 1 diabetes.

Our family and friends are supportive and assist us wherever possible. Two and a half years ago, Mikyle fell in love, and that gave him reason to live, reason to fight and unconditional love.

Diagnosis

Mikyle was diagnosed at the tender age of 10 in August 2009. I did not know anything about Type 1 diabetes. I was completely dumbfounded with the diagnosis. In the blink of an eye, without any warning, our lives changed forever. Nothing can prepare you for this…Google became my best friend.

As a T1D Mom, I did not know how I was going to do this. I felt as if there was a huge hole in the centre of the earth and I was being sucked in. It was only once we came home, with all the reading and research I did, that I realised what Type 1 diabetes was all about.

The first few years were fine until puberty struck and caused havoc in our lives. We pushed through as best we could but we were advised to look at an insulin pump. Pumps are very expensive and while trying to save towards one, Mikyle was gifted with his first insulin pump by another T1D Warrior, Rowena Carmyn Webb. Rowena gave it to Dr Tracy Janse Van Rensburg, Mikyle’s doctor at the time, to bless a child with it and Tracy chose Mikyle. Sadly, Rowena, an incredibly generous woman, passed away on 22 June.

Eating habits changed as a family

As a family, we love eating. We celebrate with food. Eating habits had to be altered, sugar was removed from our household and sugar-free drinks were bought. Xylitol was used for baking, because Mikyle has a sweet tooth.

I remember the highlight of his school camps were ending the day with hot chocolate topped with marshmallows. So, I searched high and low and made sure that I packed his sugar-free hot chocolate and sugar-free marshmallows when he went on school camps. I did everything in my power to convert the things he liked into sugar-free treats!

Insulin

Mikyle uses a Medtronic insulin pump and Humalog insulin. To test his glucose levels, he uses a Freestyle Optium Glucometer with Freestyle testing strips.

What Mikyle enjoys

Mikyle enjoys exercise, with his favourite being weight training and recently he started taking interest in cardio, specifically boxing.

Since he has joined the gym, he heals faster, and his immune system is much stronger. The blood glucose control is also much better.

Mikyle enjoys eating food. If you want to steal his heart then cook for him. He enjoys most foods, with emphasis on healthy foods. He is currently studying Dietetics (2ndyear) at Stellenbosch University so he knows the importance of consuming healthy foods.

Most of the time, he is playing games on his PlayStation, driving and spending time with his girlfriend, Tamia.

Lessons learnt

I was prepared to help my son grow into a strong, independent young man who could do anything he puts his mind to, but it turns out that he is stronger than I could ever have imagined. With many prayers and the grace of God, he celebrated his 21stbirthday with us as a family.

I believe that God gives his hardest battles to his strongest soldiers, and took some of the strongest women and made them T1D Moms.

My hero calls me mom.

Images by RE Photograghy.

20th Annual Al Bawasil Children’s Diabetes Camp

Sister Barbara Chinyerere and her son, Joshua (9), who has Type 1 diabetes give feedback after attending the 20th Annual Al Bawasil Children’s Diabetes Camp, in Doho, Qatar.


Invitation to 20th Annual Al Bawasil Children’s Diabetes Camp

Diabetes South Africa (DSA) was invited to attend the 20th Annual Al Bawasil Children’s Diabetes Camp, in Doho, Qatar. This took place from 21 to 26 December 2019. Sister Barbara Chinyerere and her son, Joshua (9), who has Type 1 diabetes, attended on behalf of DSA.

Sponsorship

Barbara and Joshua are active members of DSA’s T1 Youth Warriors committee, helping DSA to organise events and outreaches for youth with Type 1 diabetes.

The Qatar Diabetes Association sponsored mother and son to attend the annual camp for children aged 7 – 11 years with Type 1 diabetes.

Barbara’s feedback

Three words: it’s was awesome! We left on Sunday evening. The camp had started on Saturday but there was a delay with my visa. We arrived on Day 3, just in time to join the outing.

There were around 40 local children and another 30 or so children from other countries, like Tunisia, Iran, Sudan and South Africa. Joshua and myself were the first South Africans to attend. Most countries represented had a supervisor and two kids.

The programme started early with prayers. Medical teams were always available, in case any help was needed. These teams consisted of students, doctors, dietitians and nurses with a male volunteer leading each team.

All the children were placed in teams. The outings were all educational; we went to the beach where we spent the day playing games, riding camels and doing quizzes.

The next outing was to the museum where we learnt about Islamic history, the origins of the culture, and saw various statues and ornaments. We enjoyed lunch at the park that day.

KidZania

On the next day, we went to KidZania, a children’s amusement park. Kids can choose from more than 60 real-life fun activities, such as doctor, dentist, police officer, firefighter, actor and singer, etc., in a safe and secured kid-sized city. Designed by educators, for children aged 1-14, KidZania blends learning and reality with entertainment.

Here the group of children got to experience a range of different careers. Children must get involved, get tasks and experience. I must say this was Joshua’s favourite. We then went for a train rides around the area.

Evenings were loaded with diabetic-related board games and small workshops. Food would be delivered at the outings and the food was on point! Even back at the camp side we were stayed, which is a student res. It was impeccable!

Freestyle Libre machines

The Qatar Diabetes Association ensures that all children living with Type 1 diabetes has the best of care. The government sponsors Freestyle Libre machines for children under 12 to 15 years of age. They are very strict on carb-counting and their readings are not in mmol/L like in South Africa.

The last day all the children had to perform skits. They got certificates for attending and the winning team got medals. Families from around joined the closing ceremony. The Qatar Diabetes Association gave a gift to DSA. In their culture, visitors are presented with gifts.

Thank you to DSA for choosing Joshua and myself to experience this once in a lifetime opportunity. We learnt so much and had a blast.

Back to school (with Type 1 diabetes)

Going back to school can be a stressful time for anyone. For people with Type 1 diabetes (T1D) this can be even more so, especially returning to school after a new diagnosis. It’s important that teachers are aware of T1D so they can ensure the wellbeing of their students.


Education

It’s so important that your school teachers are aware of your T1D and know what to do when you need assistance. If they are educated, they will be better prepared to help you.

It’s also advisable to keep a Glucagon kit at the school office, therefore it’s best to educate the school secretaries or the school nurse.

If you feel comfortable, it’s also great to make your friends aware. That way you can ask them for help too.

Educate your teachers on the symptoms of high and low blood glucose so that they can keep an eye out for you.

If you play sports, educate your coaches on how you may need to take breaks if your blood glucose drop and eat and rest until your blood glucose returns to a good level.

Know your rights

It’s important to educate your teachers that you need to eat during class. No excused from your teachers, you are the exception. If you write exams, make sure the teachers are aware of your T1D!

Be as open about your T1D as possible

The more open you are about your diabetes, the better. People are often very inquisitive and unfortunately T1D carries a lot of misconceptions so try to be as patient as possible

If you wear a medical device, wear it with pride

NEVER be ashamed of a CGM or pump being visible. People are more likely to ask you questions but use it as an opportunity to educate people and create a positive conversation about T1D.

Be prepared

Make sure you ALWAYS have glucose sweets or a juice box with you. Lows can happen at the most unexpected times. It’s also important if you leave the classroom to carry your ‘low’ treatments with you.

Drink plenty of water at school too. Pack your bag the night before; that way you are less likely to forget important things at home. Be prepared for more than one low a day and pack enough supplies.

Remember that your T1D doesn’t define you

Know that diabetes doesn’t make you different from everyone else 🙂

Click on the image to make use of a printable PDF from the JDRF which is a great resource to give to your teachers.

T1D

MEET OUR YOUTH WARRIOR


Sarah Gomm (16) has been living with Type 1 diabetes for nearly 13 years; diagnosed at age four.


Sarah’s story

My family knew something was wrong with me due to my symptoms of thirst and weight loss, etc. They took me to the doctor and I was immediately sent to the hospital where I was diagnosed with T1D. I spent a few nights in hospital where my family and I learnt all the ins and outs of T1D.

For the next eight years, I did insulin injections and finger pricks. My mom would come to my school during break to do my injections until I was able to do them myself.

The past five years, I’ve been fortunate enough to use a CGM and insulin pump, which I’ve found to assist in lowering my HbA1c and improve my overall control.

As I get older, I’m becoming a lot more responsible managing my diabetes and it’s made me a very independent person.

However challenging T1D can be, I still count it as a blessing. I have experienced so many amazing things I never would have, it’s made me mature and, most importantly, I’ve met so many amazing people.

T1D does not define me, though, it has made me the person I am today, and for that I am grateful!