Diabetes Awareness Month: Josh’s Story

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Diabetes Awareness Month: Josh’s Story

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Joshua Pietro, freshman, found out that he had Type 1 diabetes when he was just 10 years old. For a few weeks, his family noticed that he was eating and drinking a lot and was experiencing some other symptoms. A visit to the pediatrician included a check of his blood sugar, which indicated that he was Type 1.

  “I didn’t really know what it was, but I remember being afraid of getting shots,” Pietro said. He recalls his mom explaining what diabetes was and also that they used the internet to take some quizzes about it that were kind of fun.

  Later that night, Pietro became very ill and was rushed to the ER. Diagnosed with Diabetic Ketoacidosis, he stayed in the hospital for three or four days. It wasn’t all terrible, as one of his memories from the experience was getting to order food from the hospital room TV. A visit to a nutritionist helped him understand what he should and shouldn’t eat, but for the first year after his diagnosis, Pietro took shots of insulin every day.

  Since his first hospitalization for DKA, he has had three other bouts with it. The last one, he says, was not very severe and he only had to spend a few hours at the hospital.

  After a year, he and his family investigated insulin pumps and settled on one that was small and waterproof. The pump connects to his arm or leg through a needle, which inserts a catheter that delivers insulin to his body. The pump must be moved every three days. People are constantly asking him, “What’s that?” He understands the curiosity, but sometimes gets tired of constantly explaining what the insulin pump is for. The repetition of the explanation can be frustrating.

  Pietro says that the pump is useful, although there are some limitations. For example, it can’t be exposed to extreme heat or water deeper than 25 feet, so he won’t be spending time scuba diving or relaxing in the spa. Though it’s small, it sometimes can get knocked off his arm or leg and then has to be reattached.

  He is supposed to check his blood via a finger prick five to six times a day. He admits, “I’m a lazy teenager and I sometimes only do it three times a day though.”

  When asked, “What do you wish people understood about diabetes?” Pietro replied, “I’m always asked, ‘Do you know what you’re doing, should you be doing that?’” People aren’t asking to be mean, they’re just curious and it’s just a question, but he is trained to monitor himself without constantly having an adult around. In other words, trust that he knows what he’s doing. After all these years, he has had to learn to deal with Type 1 Diabetes.