Type 1 diabetes is also known to some as juvenile diabetes, as it is most often diagnosed in children and young adults. Having type 1 diabetes means the body is not producing insulin, the hormone needed to convert sugar, starches and other food into energy. Type 1 diabetes is an inflammatory autoimmune disease that is very serious and dangerous but can be managed, allowing the child to live a long, productive life. Unfortunately, too often the symptoms of type 1 diabetes are misdiagnosed, and lead to many more complications and/or to death.
The family of James “Bubba” Doughten, an 11-year-old boy from Snyder, never thought that a fun camping trip would lead to his diagnosis, just over one year ago.
“While we were camping Bubba became sick. He had a headache, felt dizzy and was really thirsty. I thought he was just dehydrated,” said Pamela Buxton, James’ mother.
Buxton continued to give her son Gatorade, but he only became more and more ill to the point he was unable to walk. At that time she took Bubba to Jackson County Memorial Hospital where she thought they would administer an IV until he was re-hydrated. To her unfortunate surprise, her son’s blood sugar was 600, and he was transferred to O.U. Medical Center. Because the Emergency Room doctor was diabetes-aware, he knew exactly what it was, what test to perform, and got Bubbda the treatment he needed.
“I was pregnant and alone because my husband and daughter were back at the camp site, but soon after, rushed to where we were. Our friends packed up all of our camping gear for us. I was balling and scared,” expressed Buxton.
One minute a seemingly perfectly healthy child, to the next being diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes, and having to inject the body with insulin for the rest of their life, is not what a parent plans for their kids. Awareness is critical in saving the lives of diabetic children.
“I know of two children who were misdiagnosed and passed away,” shared Buxton.
According to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, the signs to look for are: Extreme thirst, Frequent urination, Sudden vision changes, Sugar in urine, Fruity, sweet, or wine-like odor on breath, Increased appetite, Sudden weight loss, Drowsiness, lethargy, Heavy, labored breathing, and Stupor, unconsciousness.
The Juvenile Diabetes Foundation website goes on to say, “Education about the symptoms of type 1 diabetes is critical because type 1 can easily be mistaken for more common illnesses, such as the flu, and misdiagnosis can have tragic consequences.”
“What I don’t like is when people make assumptions about Bubba’s diabetes,” said Buxton. “They assume he can’t have sweets. He can have anything he wants, he just has to take insulin for it,” Buxton said. “He is just like other kids, except he wears his pancreas on his hip.”
Learning about type 1 diabetes and helping Bubba adjust has been a family effort. His big sister Montana Doughten, 12, went as far as to try Bubba’s new infusion set first because he was scared. The entire family let Bubba stick them so they would know what it feels like when he has to have insulin shots.
“The hardest part for him is when his blood sugar is high, and he wants to play. My biggest fear is that when he gets older he won’t take care of himself like he’s supposed to. Right now I stay on top of expiration dates and everything for him,” said Buxton.
Buxton does go on to say that Bubba is a really responsible child, and that only two weeks after being diagnosed he was counting his carbs and giving himself shots.
Bubba still plays football, basketball and baseball. He is a very active child, including his own lawn cutting business that he is very proud of, and takes very seriously.
Bubba does have to go to Oklahoma City every three months to see the Endocrinologist and have blood work done.
“I think blood sugar checks should be included in kids’ well checks,” said Buxton.