LUBBOCK, TX - "I think learning to cope with a chronic illness and having a child with a chronic illness, I think it makes you appreciate life."
Almost three years ago, Mary Kate Hughes and her siblings were diagnosed with a gastrointestinal virus. What many people don't realize is that a lot of the symptoms of diabetes get masked by other illnesses like strep throat, the flu, or stomach bugs.
"Mary Kate was really taking longer to heal compared to the other children and eventually, I sort of figured out that something's not right here, something's not ok."
"I was diagnosed December 22nd, 2014. This has impacted my life so much because I have to do carb counting, I have to take into account what I'm doing, and what my blood sugar is at that point, and if my blood sugar is high or low. I have to treat that."
It is incredibly important for parent's to know the signs and symptoms of Diabetes because if it goes untreated, it can actually lead to coma or even death.
"So the average age of diagnosis is 11. What you'll commonly see is frequent urination, increased thirst, so I'm talking chugging water, sodas, juice, anything they can get their hands on, they're thirsty. They'll see a weight loss, so some of it may be gradual at first, but they can drop pretty quickly."
"So if you're questioning if your child has diabetes, definitely take them into their pediatrician, their PCP, or the ER. It's as simple as doing a little drop of blood, checking a blood sugar. "
The other important things to remember is that while this is never the diagnosis you want for your child, they can still live happy, healthy, and fulfilling lives. Mary Kate even has a YouTube channel to help other kids going through the same diagnosis.
"I think that's been very good for her to reach out and help other young diabetics and share that this is going to change your life, but it doesn't mean that it changes it for the worse. In some ways I think that it has changed all of us for the better."
And now that Covenant Children's is a freestanding hospital for children in the region, they are actually planning to offer community courses once a month for children and families that are impacted by Diabetes. Make sure to check their website for updates on this upcoming program at www.covenantchildrens.org.
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