Special Report: Living with juvenile diabetes

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PARK CITY, Ky. (WBKO) -- Juvenile diabetes impacts families in many ways, from medical costs, to traveling for doctor visits, and blood sugar testing throughout each day.

13 News reporter Darby Beane got to meet Austin Craine, a fourth grader at Park City Elementary School, who let us get a first hand look at a day in the life -- or at least a "school day in the life" -- of a child living with Type 1 diabetes.

"It wasn't when he was first born, it was when he was 18 months old he started kind of getting sick," says Holly Harper, Austin's mother.

"He was vomiting, but he was wetting the bed a whole lot, so I was like, well, he's hydrated," she adds.

But after a few days, Austin wasn't getting any better, so Holly Harper and Josh Craine took their son to see his pediatrician.

"They sent us to TJ Samson to do blood work and after the blood work came back, she [the doctor] called us back and told us he was a Type 1 diabetic," adds Holly.

Describing what it was like when Austin was younger, Holly says, "It was a nightmare. He doesn't understand. He runs from you when you try to give him shots, runs when you try to poke his finger, doesn't understand that he can't eat what he was normally eating or anything, you know at that age he doesn't understand. "

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only about 5% of people who have diabetes have Type 1, also known as juvenile diabetes, which requires insulin to survive.

Now, Austin has spent his life learning how to count carbs, take his blood sugar, and give himself insulin shots.

"Sometimes I like it, sometimes I don't," he says.

His daily routine is like that of any other kid, including tests in the classroom, games in P.E. and lunch time with friends. But Austin has another element he faces every day that most kids don't have to deal with.

"For shots, about five or six, and checking [blood sugar] about four or five [times every day]," he explains.

His best friend, Jeremiah Moore, has been by his side since kindergarten and has seen Austin battle diabetes first hand.

"Sometimes it looks sad but he says he's fine," says Jeremiah.

"What makes him an extraordinary kid is the fact that he does all the things fourth grade boys do and deals with this as well," says Park City Math Interventionist, Starla Buckley.

Being able to self-administer the insulin shots is something Austin takes pride in.

"It kind of scared me a little bit because I was like 'this kid is in third grade -- I started taking care of him when he was in third grade -- so he's in third grade, he handling a needle, but he does it so well that I don't even question it now," says school nurse, Amanda Hendrick.

Nurse Amanda still does the math for him, but soon enough, Austin will be able to do that part, too.

Even with the systems in place to check Austin's blood sugar several times each day, he still experiences swings of it getting too high or too low.

"When he comes to you and tells you that he hates the disease, it's kind of hard. It is hard," says Holly, tearing up.

But Austin doesn't let it stop him from doing what he wants to do, and he wants to make sure other kids with diabetes don't let it control their lives.

"Don't think about it. If I can do it you can do it. It ain't that bad and it's kind of fun because you get to miss school for doctors visits," he says.

Austin goes to Louisville every three months for check-ups. His parents say there is a possibility of someday switching him over to an insulin pump, but right now, they're still just talking about it.

For more information on Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, we've attached a link to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.

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