There is no stronger primal instinct than a mother’s need to nourish and protect her young. Food is life. Food is sustainability for the body, but what if when you looked at food all you saw was that it could potentially kill?

JAR member, Penelope, has kindly offered to share her daughter, Micaleh’s journey with juvenile type 1 diabetes every Sunday for the next couple weeks. Knowing this information may just help save the life of someone you love.

Part I : Symtoms & Diagnosis

What if every day when you get up you have to think about what you will eat and how it will affect your body? Not because you are choosing to live a healthy lifestyle or are trying a new diet but because if you don’t, you could end up in the hospital in coma.

This is the life that my 11 year old daughter lives everyday. She has been living with it since May 8, 2008. This was the day her life and mine changed forever. She was diagnosed with Type 1 Juvenile Diabetes. Before then I knew very little about the disease. I knew one person that had it, and she helped save my daughter’s life! I just thought being diabetic meant you had to cut out certain foods high in sugar or not drink alcohol. I didn’t know what foods were high in carbs or what it meant to have high blood sugar levels…I quickly learned.

About three months prior I noticed changes in my daughter’s body behavior (for lack of a better term). She was constantly hungry and thirsty. At first I thought she was experiencing a growth spurt as she had done in the past, and that this was the reason for her little body needing more food and water. But then she started wetting the bed, and she wasn’t able to focus in school. Her cheeks always had a flushed or almost sunburned appearance. Despite all the extra food she was eating, she was losing weight, her little knees were thin and boney and her clothes were falling off her.

We attended a weekly home bible study, and I still believe that us joining this group was a divine set up. My friend Heidi is an RN, my friend Samantha is a type 1 diabetic, and my friend Michelle is a dietician/nutritionist. On May 8th, Heidi and Samantha had a hunch that my daughter might be diabetic. Samantha asked if it was okay if she did a finger prick blood test using her meter, that way we would know right away if that was the problem. Sure enough Micaleh’s blood sugar was 589, a normal person’s BG is between 70-120! Heidi and Samantha told me that I needed to take Micaleh to the doctor asap. I said okay I will take her in the morning. They both said no, you need to take her to the ER now! The next 6 days were a blur of doctors, nurses coming in every hour, in-hospital diabetes care training classes and “sleeping” on a rock hard chair.


Those 6 days were also a crash-course on how to feed my daughter, inject insulin via a syringe into her body before each meal and again at bedtime, what to do if her blood sugar levels were too low (including administering a glucagon shot should she be incapacitated) or too high, and what were the “free” foods she could eat if she reached her carb limit per meal.

No one knows exactly what causes type 1 diabetes. According to the Mayo Clinic, “their body’s own immune system — which normally fights harmful bacteria and viruses — mistakenly destroys the insulin-producing (islet) cells in the pancreas. Genetics may play a role in this process, and exposure to certain viruses may trigger the disease.” Please come back next Sunday to hear about how the disease has effected Penelope, and Micaleh’s lives, and diet. Here is a sneak peak with the tweaks Penelope did to my Cottage Pie recipe from last week’s Weekly Menu Plan:

Oops! Forgot to say that I made Jewel’s cottage pie but changed it a bit… mainly as you can see I used sweet potatoes and its sans mushrooms. I used organic beef, carrots, sweet potatoes, celery and Bolivian rose salt & multi-colored peppercorns to taste…oh and Trader Joe’s Vintage white cheddar (made in England)!!

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  • May 22, 2011
    7:22 pm

    What a great article! Penelope, thank you for sharing.

    • May 22, 2011
      7:27 pm

      Isn’t so generous of both Penelope and Micaleh to share their insight into this disease? I took so much for granted with my daughter’s health, and it really is important to be aware, and know what to do. Plus awareness will bring us closer to a cure!

  • May 22, 2011
    8:07 pm

    Thank you Jewels for taking an interest 🙂 I am by no means a diabetes expert it is a constant learning process!

    • May 22, 2011
      11:42 pm

      You don’t need to be an expert to make a difference – sharing your story is brave and enlightening.

  • May 22, 2011
    8:37 pm

    excellent post! Thank you for helping to educate the public about this. Diabetes is such a scary disease and there is so much misinformation out there. Xoxo

  • May 22, 2011
    11:49 pm

    I found their story compelling, and I felt such a connection as a mother that I had to share it – Penelope and Micaleh deserve all the kudos.

  • May 23, 2011
    11:17 am

    Jewels – this is a really great post! I know very little about diabetes and should really read up more on it as it tends to run in the family here 🙁

  • May 24, 2011
    6:55 pm

    Every time I log in, I learn more and more how important it is to eat properly and to not take one’s health for granted. You need to actively make yourself aware of what good nutrition is and how to make the most of your meals in order to remain or to regain your health. Penelope, Micaleh & Kathleen, thank you for sharing! And Julie Anne, thank you for providing the forum to get all this information out to those who are looking for it.

  • May 24, 2011
    9:11 pm

    Micaleh and I have been involved in both JDRF (Los Angeles chapter) and the ADA. Both are great organizations with good websites full of information. 🙂

  • May 24, 2011
    6:01 pm

    Jewels — great story and a worthy cause. I am a board member of the Louisiana Chapter of JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation) and just recently returned from their Volunteer Conference in Denver. My suggestion to anyone who wants to know more about this disease is to go to the national websites and read more about it. There is so much progress being made in helping those deal with the disease on a daily basis. Counting carbs, checking the insulin pump at 3am, and trying to adjust between low and high blood sugars with meals are only part of it. There’s a misperception, as Penelope stated in her touching account, that it’s about giving up sugar or taking a specific drug once or twice a day. Nutrition is a key part, but there are many components involved with the disease that need to be understood. Thank you, Jewel, for allowing your readers to share these types of stories and put a personal touch to those living with diabetes. Kat

  • May 24, 2011
    6:22 pm

    I’m in awe of people like Penelope, Micaleh, and now you Kathleen – anything I can do to help, I’m there! I just don’t want to do any harm – this is not my area of expertise, so I’m going to keep reiterating your comment about going to the national websites for information. Thank you.

    Progress is great, but a cure would be better!