Sara and Jonathan Tucker suspected something was wrong when their 8-year-old son, Owen, was drinking more than usual. Having once had a cat with diabetes, they recognized the symptom.
“As we gradually noticed that he was drinking more at night, we started wondering about diabetes,” Sara said. “I’m grateful we had that experience because he wasn’t very sick yet.”
In September 2011, Sara brought Owen to his pediatrician and was promptly sent to the Children’s Emergency Department where he was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes—a condition in which the body cannot make insulin. There is no cure for Type 1 diabetes, but it can be managed with medicine.
Sara, Jonathan and Owen attended diabetes management classes at Children’s where they learned the basics about keeping the disease under control.
“The program is so well-organized. It’s intensive but manageable,” Sara said. “We left feeling confident that we could manage Owen’s diabetes, especially with daily interaction with the Emory-Children’s Center to monitor his levels while we were learning.”
Like a typical 8-year-old, Owen enjoys building things with Legos and playing with his dog, Wooster, but he is also learning to manage his condition. He tests his blood sugar throughout the day, goes to the school nurse for injections and is learning what is okay to eat. He even uses a cell phone to text his blood glucose levels to his parents.
“He seems to be taking it in stride,” Sara said. “He understands the basics and knows he needs to be careful about what he eats. His 12 year old sister, Emma, has also joined our carb awareness effort.”
The Tuckers have been able to turn the disease into a positive for the whole family by making a healthy diet and physical activity a priority.
“We’re more conscious about being active on a consistent basis,” Sara said. “We’re really trying to be as healthy as possible.”