FARR WEST – During a trip to Hawaii last spring, Amber Wykstra noticed that her 15-year-old son Cooper was drinking a lot of water.
“I mean a lot,” she said.
He also used the bathroom more often than usual, and although he did exercise, Wykstra said she noticed that her son was losing weight a little faster than normal.
Wykstra’s husband was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of 12, so she saw red flags.
“When we got home from our red-eye flight, my husband did a blood test and found that his (Cooper) sugar was critically high,” she said. “We immediately left the luggage in front of the front door and took him to the hospital.”
Their suspicions were confirmed there. Cooper had type 1 diabetes.
“We arrived at the Ogden Regional Emergency Room and were a little nervous about what to expect due to COVID. We didn’t know if we as parents could both be with Cooper because of the COVID protocols, which added to our stress, ”said Wykstra.
The hospital was able to make arrangements to admit Cooper, who happened to be the first adolescent diabetic patient in years.
“We were told that the hospital recently started a diet team and they were able to treat us that way,” she said. “If they hadn’t taken these steps, we would have been sent to Primary Children’s or Timpanogos. We were so grateful that they could treat us. “
Type 1 diabetes, formerly known as juvenile diabetes, is an autoimmune disease that is believed to have a genetic component. In people with this type of diabetes, the insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas are accidentally destroyed by the body’s immune system, so the body basically stops producing insulin, according to the JDRF. Although the cause is not fully understood, there is still no cure to this day and people rely on extra insulin for the rest of their lives, which is put into the body to survive.
Symptoms of Type 1 Diabetes
Type 1 diabetes is different from type 2 diabetes, which is usually diagnosed later in life. It can also have a genetic component, but it is often a consequence of lifestyle and can be controlled through diet and exercise. Symptoms include increased thirst, dry mouth, frequent urination, unexplained weight loss, itchy or dry skin, and yeast infections.
“The hardest part about your child being diagnosed with diabetes is the cost of the medical care needed to sustain life,” said Wykstra. “Our insurance trip was ridiculous and extremely frustrating. They wouldn’t approve the insulin the doctor requested, so we had to tailor our treatment to the company’s approval. Without insurance, the consumables themselves would cost about $ 1,500 a month, not to mention whether you’re looking to buy a pump or a CGM. Insanity.”
Wykstra believes Cooper’s diabetes could have been triggered by a COVID-19 infection in January.
“I’m not sure, but Cooper had COVID-19 in January and the virus may have been the viral trigger,” she said.
“Cooper now has a continuous glucose monitor that he wears on his arm. The CGM sends his glucose readings to his phone so he knows where he is, ”added Wykstra. “This information is also available to us as parents, we can monitor how things are going.”
Cooper was initially treated with insulin syringes, which meant five fingertips in 24 hours to check his blood sugar, as well as five injections a day. But now he’s wearing a pump that delivers insulin straight into his bloodstream. The pumps continuously give him a basic dose, which he can increase independently after meals. He needs to carefully count his carbohydrates so he knows how much insulin he needs.
Wykstra said Cooper is passionate about music and guitar and plays in a local band. He also dreamed of becoming a Navy diver but may not have been able to fulfill that dream due to his illness.
“Type 1 diabetes is a life-changing diagnosis and will affect the whole family,” she said. “It is a mental and physical challenge for both the children and the caregivers. If you experience symptoms in your children, act quickly. Make use of all resources, including social workers and counselors, that the medical team can provide. You will need the support. Don’t let that overwhelm you. This is manageable with a good plan. “