by Richmond mom Sue Ayers, freelance writer and training designer.
After my daughter Emily’s diagnosis of Type 1 diabetes earlier this year, one of the first things I did was begin to look for local resources that I could connect with so I could learn about this mysterious disease. Although Type 1 is on the rise, I knew almost nothing. It was definitely a “learn-as-you-go” process.
Fortunately, now Emily is on insulin pump therapy. The pump takes the place of the insulin injections. We simply test her glucose and input the results and her carb count into the pump and it administers insulin to my girl when she eats. Throughout the rest of the day, it pumps drops of insulin just as a functioning pancreas would. I found that there is a wealth of support and information on insulin pump therapy in the Richmond area.
When Emily was first diagnosed with Type 1, one of the first places I connected with was the Central Virginia Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. The JDRF provides tremendous support options for people with diabetes. They are incredibly dedicated to research and efforts to find a cure. This past Sunday, the JDRF held a walk in Byrd Park. I was stunned by the number of people who came out for the walk. “Team Emily” consisted of 13 friends and family members and we surpassed the fundraising goal we set for ourselves. Thousands of others undoubtedly did the same. The JDRF has many other resources for kids with diabetes including a Bag of Hope for newly diagnosed kids consisting of a backpack filled with important information, books for kids, supplies and a teddy bear.
Through the JDRF, I found a local support group that meets monthly in Glen Allen. This group has been such a blessing for me. It’s run by two moms of Type 1 kids and they work so hard to find credible guest speakers willing to discuss important issues related to diabetes. We have had people come in and talk about getting ready for back to school, long-term complications, psychological issues that the children may experience, nutrition and we even had a family picnic. These parents who attend the group are so resourceful and provide tremendous support. We have all been through the same nightmare and we share a common bond now. The group meets on the first Thursday of the month and you can email me if you’d like more information.
And if you haven’t read my article about Camp Jordan – a summer camp for Type 1 kids – please make sure you check it out. They are an excellent resource and Emily learned so much at the ten-day camp she attended in July. For younger kids who only want a day-camp experience, I’ve heard great things about Camp Wannacure which is held annually at the Jewish Community Center on Monument Avenue.
Life hasn’t been easy in the Ayers’ household this year but it is mighty comforting knowing that RVA has incredible support and people who are willing to go extra miles and miles and miles to help kids with diabetes. I know we will see a cure in our lifetime. And I know it will be thanks to the efforts to the wonderful people and organizations like these.
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