Evie's story: young parents learn about Type 1 diabetes - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Evie's story: young parents learn about Type 1 diabetes

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"Most parents and families discover their children have it the hard way, because I guess like us, we're naive to the differences in diabetes. I thought diabetes was just that - diabetes - what most of us commonly know it as," said Amanda Young. What she and her husband Chris didn't know was that there was a much serious form of diabetes called Type 1.

Type 1 diabetes is an incurable auto-immune disease that attacks the beta cells of the pancreas. "The pancreas is what regulates the glucose in our body," said Amanda. "It uses that glucose to fuel and produce insulin."

It all started when their daughter Evie was 6 years old. They noticed an increase in her appetite. They assumed that it was just growth spurts. "The increase in appetite is due to the fact that the body is no longer absorbing the carbohydrates, the glucose that's transformed from the carbohydrates for energy," said Amanda.

And because her body was not absorbing the glucose and nutrients due to her Type 1 diabetes, Evie's pancreas was no longer creating insulin, which had her body getting the needed nutrients from her fat supply, thus making her appear leaner. Chris continued, "It was all just looking like the natural way of life - developing more but really it was her body trying to protect itself but little did we know, she was dying slowly."

It was when Evie became easily fatigued that they noticed something was wrong. "She was starting to say she had a shortness of breath and that her chest was hurting a little bit. At that point with her having all these concerns and no fever, I knew there was something wrong," her parents recalled. Chris and Amanda brought their little girl to the clinic, and that is when she started vomiting. They, along with the doctor, wrote it off as a possible case of the stomach flu. Although the doctor told them to just monitor Evie and keep her hydrated, they sensed something wasn't right when she wasn't able to eat.

Chris told KUAM News, "I said, 'Evie, if you don't drink this or eat this, I'm going to have to take you to the doctor and they are going to have to stick a needle in your arm and feed you through the needle', and she looked up at me and said, 'Dad, let's do that.' We knew something was up, we picked her up and got her back to the clinic."

Through bloodwork they noticed her glucose levels were extremely high. A normal reading would be between 80-120 and Evie's was above 600 - a fatally toxic level. The doctor noted that she needed to be transported to the Guam Memorial Hospital's Pediatric Intensive Care Unit right away. "I have to commend everyone there for being very calm for realizing now how serious it was. It wasn't registering to me," said Amanda. "They were saying, 'diabetes, diabetes', and I was saying my kid is super healthy, it doesn't make any sense. That's because I was very naive to Type 1. I didn't even know there was a difference in diabetes until my daughter was diagnosed with it."

What initially was a visit to the clinic turned into rushing Evie to GMH realizing that she was going into a coma as a result of Type 1 diabetes. "I remember that ride in the ambulance, just still being in shock and denial and trying to understand everything and wondering if those were going to be the last moments with her. And how easily the DKA could have been prevented," said Amanda.

Both admit they felt guilty for not knowing what seems so obvious now, saying, "After researching more about Type 1 diabetes. I've come to discover that most parents and families discover their children have it the hard way, because I guess like us, we're naive to the differences in diabetes out there."

The couple continues to share their story with the community and via social media in hopes that it helps other parents and families. Amanda is in the process of forming a non-profit organization that will not only offer information and awareness for Type 1 diabetes, but also help with the emotional well being of those living with this incurable disease, especially children. "I want to share our story because it could potentially save another child's life - maybe not take away the aspect of being diagnosed with Type 1, but maybe prevent that heartache of finding out the hard way," they shared.

Stay tuned for Part II of this series, when we hear more from Chris and Amanda and from Evie herself about her fears and hopes for a cure.

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