MARQUETTE - It's a mother's job to make sure her children have what they need to be happy and healthy. For the mother of a diabetic child, it's an even more complicated task.
Just ask Dana Stine, mother of 11-year-old Jacob, who has managed Type 1 diabetes since the age of 2.
"He was going to the bathroom often and was thirsty constantly," recalls Stine, who lives in Marquette. "I guess it was my mother's intuition that made me think it could be diabetes."
Jacob Stine, 11, is pictured with the device that he uses to measure his blood sugar levels. Jacob was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when he was 2 years old. (Journal photo by Chelsey Roath)
Type 1 diabetes is a lifelong disease that occurs when the pancreas doesn't produce sufficient insulin to properly control blood sugar levels. Jacob started showing initial signs of diabetes at the early age of 9 months.
Along with learning how to read and ride a bike, Jacob became familiar with counting carbs and monitoring his blood sugar levels. Everyday, he checks his glucose levels up to 16 times.
"My husband and I switch off checking it at 2 a.m. every night." Stine said. "But Jacob is in charge of monitoring it during the school days. He's been doing it since the first grade."
She says that having a child with diabetes hasn't hindered her family at all.
"We were a healthy family before. Now we are just really healthy," Stine laughed.
The same is true of the Gould family of Marquette. Sky Gould, 14, has been a Type 1 diabetic since she was 5 years old.
"I don't really view myself as different. I mean, I eat the same things as everybody else," she said.
Sky's mother, Heidi, is adamant that her daughter is just like everybody else.
"She's normal," Heidi said. "She does exactly what the other kids do and eats the same foods."
People who have Type 2 diabetics can have the same symptoms as Type 1, but they generally don't happen early in the disease progression.
Ann Constance, who is the head of Upper Peninsula Diabetes Outreach Network in Marquette, said that people with Type 2 diabetes can go undiagnosed for 7 to 10 years. November has been designated Diabetes Awareness Month.
An estimated 21,000 people in the U.P have diabetes. Incredibly, over 5,000 are still undiagnosed.
If you have diabetes, there are a few easy tips to help maintain your health. Look at your diet and cut down portions. And exercise is extremely important.
"Exercise is better than any medicine you can take," said Constance.
Diabetes can lead to serious complications such as blindness, kidney damage and lower-limb amputations. According the Department of Health and Human Service, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, diabetes was the seventh leading cause of death in the U.S. in 2006.
Constance added, " A simple blood test at the doctor's office is all it takes."
Chelsey Roath can be reached at 228-8920. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.