30 Stories of Education: Laurie & Nick Diasio

Laurie & Nick Diasio

A Mother and Son, Both Type 1

My name is Laurie Diasio. I am a 42 year old wife, mother, nurse and Type 1 diabetic. I was diagnosed in 1975 at the age of 3 1/2. Compared to the technology available today 1975 was the "dark ages" of diabetes management. There was no such thing as a blood glucose meter - all testing was done with urine. Insulin consisted of beef or pork formulations - there was no human insulin. Needles were much thicker and more painful but we were able to use the needles more than once. We had a special place in our refrigerator that we kept the needles. Glucose meters, insulin pumps and insulin that mimic the type that is made by the pancreas have made it possible for better diabetic control.
Diabetes is not easy. There are days that I don't want to think about checking my blood sugar or counting my carbs. I know I have thought that it would be nice to have a day where I can take a diabetic vacation. Unfortunately, this is not a possibility. Each day is filled with constant reminders of dos and don'ts. Regular visits to my endocrinologist and ophthalmologist seem to cause a lot of anxiety as there is always a fear of what they will see in the back of my eyes or what my A1C will say about my diabetic control.

I was able to maintain a semi-normal pregnancy. I had wonderful A1C levels during that time because I was managing my diabetes for my son. Bedrest at 29 weeks, in the hospital at 32 weeks and a c-section at 35 weeks gave us our son, Nicholas. We were told that he had a 17% chance of developing diabetes. I thought it was unlikely since my dad was a Type 1 diabetic also. In March of 2013, Nick was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. I had so much guilt and sadness - this was not something that I EVER wanted to share with my son.

He started checking his own blood sugars the day he was diagnosed! We have contests on who can check faster or which of us will have the better number. Nick reads labels and checks carbohydrates for everything. When he was on injections he would choose a protein snack over a snack with carbohydrates so that he did not need another injection. He was started on the insulin pump less than one month ago and one of the first things he said was, "I feel so mature!" He has embraced his disease and I am so proud of him for that! I know the time will come when it is not fun to be diabetic and it is not cool to be different. I know there will challenges and I know that we will get through them as a family.

Another resource that we will have is the ADA Triangle D and Teen Camps. I was recruited to volunteer at this camp when I was a nursing student. I had no idea that 13 years later I would still be so involved with this camp and organization. I volunteer at the Triangle D residential camp which is a once week residential camp in Ingleside, IL. Each cabin is filled with 10-12 diabetic campers and each cabin is assigned a licensed medical staff member who manages their diabetes for the week. Camp is filled with all of the normal camp activities - swimming, boating, Capture the Flag, archery, four square, the DANCE. These campers are able to be normal at camp because they all have to check their blood sugars, monitor for ketones, check for lows and give insulin, whether by injection or pump. The difference is that every activity is monitored by medical staff. The medical staff perform midnight rounds on their cabins - checking blood sugars and treating for highs or lows. There are on call staff available in the health center 24 hours per day. These volunteers make it possible to give a normal experience to these children. One of my first years at camp I was walking behind a group of campers who were talking about how old they were when they were diagnosed and how long they were in the hospital. Some of these campers have never met another diabetic their own age and this gives them the opportunity to experience camp with 120 other children who know what it is like to be diabetic! It also given the parents of these children a break of their own - time to spend with other siblings, each other and the ability to sleep through the night without getting up multiple times to check blood sugars. Nick was able to experience camp this past summer. He learned how to give his own injections and was so excited that he told me he wasn't sure he wanted to come home.

As I said before, diabetes is NOT easy! But it is manageable. There are so many resources available for education and support. No one has to do this alone.