Back to Kids' Voices Samantha

Have you or your child ever been thirsty just 5 seconds after finishing an entire 8 ounce drink? Have you been to the restroom more than 3 times before finishing a meal? Do you or your child feel like a bottomless pit sometimes? Ever seem drowsy and tired a lot? Does your breath smell fruity or sweet or have a wine-like odor? Does anyone else in your family have diabetes? If so, it wouldn't hurt to have a simple blood test to determine if you or your child has diabetes!

In 2000 my grandfather passed away. It was devastating! If only he had not had diabetes he wouldn't have lost both his legs! If only, he had not had diabetes he would still be here! If only he hadn't had diabetes, we would never have known what to look for and caught my daughter's diabetes when we did!

We noticed her increased hunger, the increased thirst, and the frequent urination. I had put it off thinking it was just a growth spurt. Finally, one afternoon we decided to do a simple blood sugar check and see what it was. My mother is a pre-diabetic so she had her own monitor. It was 413! Thinking it was just an error we checked someone else and came back to our seven year old, Samantha. When we checked her the second time, it was 507!

The next morning we were in the doctor's office for a fasting blood glucose test. The following morning we were at the Pediatric Endocrinologist Office in Greenville! We received confirmation that Samantha had Type 1 Juvenile Diabetes. I was in shock! I couldn't believe that we would have to begin checking blood sugar and giving injections day in and day out. I had watched my grandfather for years prick his finger and roll the insulin bottle between his hands. He would draw his insulin, wipe off a spot on his tummy, and 1-2-3 stick! Now I would have to do this to my child?

The initial shock is over now, but it still pains me to think what if we hadn't checked that day? What if we hadn't suspected diabetes in the first place? The doctor's and nurses have all informed us that we were very fortunate to have caught it when we did. They were relieved to know that we had some idea of what we were up against!

Do you know what to look for? Here a few of the signs:

  1. Extreme thirst
  2. Frequent urination
  3. Drowsiness or lethargy
  4. Sugar in urine
  5. Sudden vision changes
  6. Increased appetite
  7. Sudden weight loss
  8. Fruity, sweet, or wine-like odor or breath


Samantha, Diabetes survivor, radio personality

What is Diabetes? Diabetes is a disease that affects approximately 18.2 million people in the United States (6.3% of the population). It is characterized by blood sugar levels being above normal. Glucose is the main sugar found in the blood; although, it is important to the body because it is the main source of energy. After a meal, the food normally gets broken down by the body into sugar. It then gets carried by the blood to the cells throughout the body, to be used as energy. Insulin is important to the body because it is a hormone that is involved in converting the food into energy.

People develop diabetes because their pancreas does not work correctly. The pancreas is the organ that makes insulin and enzymes needed for digestion. In people with diabetes, blood sugar levels increase because either their pancreas does not make enough insulin or the cells in the body do not use the available insulin properly.

For Samantha, we are not only fortunate to have found it when we did; but, we are extremely fortunate that my grandfather had diabetes in the first place. Had he not, we would never have known; and "knowing is half the battle."

With the help and support of family, friends, and fabulous co-workers - I know Samantha will never miss a beat (not as long as there are shoes, lipsticks, and purses to be bought anyway!).

Here are some websites you can log on to for more information if needed:

Samantha and her family receive email at shannonmcelveen AT

Published March 5, 2005

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Last Updated: Saturday March 05, 2005 18:31:18
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