Hunter is a very active and energetic ten-year-old. He loves all sports and if there were more hours in the day or days in the week, he would probably be on more teams! Currently, he is on a swim team, plays tackle football, and he hopes to play rugby soon.
“As Hunter’s parents, we encourage him to stay as active as possible because we believe that this is one of the key factors to Hunter staying healthy and avoiding diabetes-related health problems,” said Hunter’s mom, Jenna.
When Hunter was four years old, he was a very healthy and active child. He was potty trained early and never wet the bed, a great eater, very independent and never sick. Hunter unexpectedly started wetting the bed at night. At first his parents found it annoying, but as it continued they started to be concerned.
“As an RN, my first thought was that he had an urinary tract infection. I made an appointment for him to be checked after preschool the Monday before Thanksgiving. As I was checking him in for the appointment, Hunter asked to go to the bathroom and we grabbed a urine sample. Before the nurse could take Hunter’s vital signs, they came in and asked for another urine sample. In was in this moment that I knew he had Type 1 Diabetes,” said Jenna. “The way the doctor looked at me, I knew our lives had just changed. The nurse also did a quick finger stick to check Hunter’s blood glucose level but the machine only went to 600 so it just read HIGH. I was instructed to take Hunter straight to the endocrinology clinic, don’t feed him and don’t stop anywhere, ‘Just GO!’”
The staff at Blank Children's Endocrinology Clinic was wonderful. Jenna met with an educator, dietitian, and doctor that very same day. After five hours in the office, they sent her home with Hunter. They scheduled an appointment to return to the clinic with the entire family just two days later to learn more about the new lifestyle they were about to begin.
“Thankfully, Hunter was young enough at diagnosis that he doesn’t remember life before diabetes,” said Jenna. “Doctors have always encouraged us to treat him like our other children. He eats what he wants (with very minor exceptions) and does what he wants. The major difficulty we have is that Hunter is hypo-unaware which means he doesn’t feel when he has a low blood glucose until it is at dangerous levels.”
Due to being hypo-unaware, at least one parent attends every sports practice he has in order to monitor him and be available for anything that may come up. This takes the responsibility off coaches and allows Hunter to focus on his activity. Hunter visits his endocrinologist every three months to make sure his pump and monitor are working well for him. He also has yearly blood work done to monitor for other autoimmune diseases that he is more likely to develop as a result of type 1 diabetes. Hunter wears a closed-loop insulin pump system. This means that every 2-3 days he has an insulin pump site that he needs to change and every week a continuous monitor site to change. His pump constantly talks to his monitor to decide if he is getting too much or too little insulin and adjusts accordingly.
Whenever he eats, Hunter gives himself a bolus of insulin for the amount of carbohydrates he eats. The system is not perfect, but it is helpful. Before Hunter had the continuous glucose monitor (CGM), they would check his blood glucose level 2-3 times through the night and every 2-3 hours through the day. The CGM is a lifesaver in more ways than one. It will also alarm if Hunter is low or high to let his parents know an intervention of some sort is required.
“Right now Hunter’s goal is to be a tight-end in the NFL (the Packers would be a huge dream!!). He plans to make millions of dollars playing football and use that money to make sure all people with type 1 diabetes have enough insulin. He then wants to find a cure for diabetes and make sure that everyone can have access to it!” said Jenna.