Apr 09, 2008 Erin Smith Uncategorized
Joel Hargrave knows how to roll with the punches.
In 2003, the Baldwinsville boy was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes, also known at Type 1 diabetes. At the time, Joel had been suffering from recurring headaches. One day, he said he had a really bad one, so his mother, Karen, took him to the doctor where he was diagnosed.
“My mom said I wasn’t upset or worried about it when I found out,” Joel said.
“As much as a 7-year-old can understand, he really didn’t let it bother him,” Karen confirmed. “He integrated it into his routine really quickly.”
What is juvenile diabetes?
According to the web site for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation’s (jdrf.org), juvenile diabetes, occurs when the body’s immune system attacks and destroys beta cells, which normally produce insulin. Insulin is a hormone that helps the body move glucose contained in food into cells throughout the body, which is used for energy. When beta cells are destroyed, no insulin can be produced and the glucose stays in the blood where it can cause serious damage to all the organ systems of the body.
For this reason, people with juvenile diabetes must take insulin in order to stay alive. This means undergoing multiple injections daily or having insulin delivered through an insulin pump, and testing their blood sugar by pricking their fingers for blood six or more times a day.
Joel chose to wear the pump to receive his insulin and must change his pump site every three days.
“It’s annoying at times,” he said about the pump. But, with a positive attitude, Joel notes the upside of his condition, namely his midnight snacks of M&Ms and being able to miss boring classes to go to the nurse to have his insulin checked.
“He’s fortunate because he doesn’t have a lot of lows during the night,” Karen said. “Some have seizures and can go into a coma.”
Still a typical kid
Joel doesn’t let the condition hold him back.
“Even though the testing never stops, Joel can generally [eat] what he wants. He just has to adjust his insulin for it,” Karen said.
Joel loves basketball and is a member of Baldwinsville’s booster basketball. He also enjoys playing outside and drawing. To participate in sports, he removes his pump and disconnects the gear. When he puts in back on, the pump automatically regulates the amount of insulin in his body.
Last week, the sixth-grader was playing handball during physical education class when a seventh grader landed on his foot breaking it.
“It hurt for a second,” he said about the accident, which has left him with a cast. His cast will be off before spring break and more importantly, his 12th birthday on April 20.
What is the one thing Joel wants others to know about juvenile diabetes?
“It’s not contagious and other people can’t get it,” he said.
“It’s helped that he has a lot of good friends and teachers,” Karen added about his experience.
The CNY chapter of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation will be holding a fundraiser beginning at 6 p.m. Friday May 2 at the Hotel Syracuse in downtown Syracuse. The event, called Bar-B-Cure Gala, features food, raffle and a silent and live auction.
“It’s a nice family event,” Karen said. “They do a western theme and menu with a couple of hours to look and bid on silent auction items.”
Auctioned items include Syracuse University autographed memorabilia, four courtside tickets to an SU basketball game, SU football advance auto box at the dome, one week and membership to the Condominium Travel Club and a condo for a week in Naples, Fl.
For more information about juvenile diabetes and the Bar-B-Cure Gala, visit jdrf.org and search for CNY chapter and click on Bar-B-Cure Gala.