Kids with type 1 diabetes are among the estimated 200,000 young people living with the disease in the United States. Each year, roughly 40,000 people are newly diagnosed with the disease. A diagnosis is challenging, especially for kids with type 1, but many are thriving and living inspirational lives.
Diabetes Self-Management and JDRF have a shared vision: to promote the advancement of type 1 diabetes research by spotlighting the dedicated sugar type 1 diabetes champions from across the U.S. In this series, we asked some young patients about friends, new tech, friends, advice and more.
Will Demeritt, 10, Lake Orion, Michigan
How old were you when diagnosed with T1D and please describe your journey?
I was 6 years old when I was diagnosed with diabetes. I went to the doctor for my six-year check-up and when I peed in a cup, they said I had sugar in my pee. They did a finger poke and the meter couldn’t read it because it was very high. I went to the hospital and got an IV. They poked my finger again and my sugar was over 600! I stayed in the hospital for five days learning about diabetes. I started getting shots of insulin and finger pokes. There were lots of shots and pokes!
What was the hardest part about managing T1D? And how do you turn these challenges into positives?
I want to make diabetes gone! We need a cure! I want to sleep better. I want to eat when I want and not worry about what my sugar is or what a snack will do to my sugars. I am a youth ambassador for JDRF for the past three years. I participate in the JDRF OneWalk, we are TeamWilld. I also raise money for a cure; we had lemonade stands, collected pop cans and held a car wash. I tell people about my T1D. I gave a speech at Ford Motor Co. and helped to train my school teachers and other staff.
How did you become involved in JDRF?
I got a teddy bear after I was diagnosed with T1D. Then we signed up as TeamWilld and walked in the JDRF OneWalk in 2016.
Any JDRF community service projects or initiatives?
We hope to have a fundraiser at all the schools in my district, we are still working on it.
What have you found to be the most useful Diabetes technology?
My pump. When I am asleep and my sugar is high mom can give me my insulin through my pump. I can stay asleep; I don’t wake up from a shot like I used to. My Dexcom too. When I have my Dexcom on, I don’t have quite as many finger pokes, I like that!
How do your friends and family support you?
No one knew about diabetes. Then I got it and Beth (my para at school) went to trainings and learned all about diabetes. Then she started helping me to explain to my friends. My teachers go to trainings to learn how to help me feel good at school and my teacher brings in extra flavored waters and low carb snacks to keep in my classroom in case I need something.
When my friends hear my low sugar alarm and I don’t, they tell my teacher for me and when I need to stop something to check my sugars, my friends wait for me. My friends help me raise money for JDRF. My friend’s mom is going to classes about diabetes so I can play at their house without my mom with me. My nana picks me up from school when I don’t feel good from my low sugars so I can go home and rest. When I don’t feel good and need to stop my test at school, or stop gymnastics practice, I tell my mom or dad and they say OK.
What are some of your favorite activities?
Go to my friend’s house and maybe sleepover, diabetes camp, swimming in a pool or lake and gymnastics.
What is your favorite diabetes-friendly meal and why?
For snacks I like to eat vegetables like cucumbers and carrots. I sometimes dip them in barbecue sauce. I also like to eat cantaloupe. For meals I like meatballs with marinara sauce.
What advice would you give to someone your age who is newly diagnosed with T1D?
Diabetes stinks! Sometimes you won’t feel good when your sugar is really high… But keep going, you can still have fun!
Want to learn more about caring for a child with type 1 diabetes? Read “Top 10 Tips for Better Blood Glucose Control,” “Writing a Section 504 Plan for Diabetes” and “Be Aware of Hypoglycemia Unawarness.”