Longwarry mother Suzette Silva is shining a light on the disease that nearly stole her young son. our years ago, her son Tristan Pope, then 23 months old, was rushed to Monash Hospital in a coma caused by type 1 diabetes.
“Like most parents, I didn’t even know this disease existed until my son was diagnosed,” Ms Silva said. “Had I waited 24 hours, my son would have died in his sleep.”
On Friday, November 14 - World Diabetes Day - pupils at Columba Catholic Primary School in Bunyip (where Tristan is now a student) and Longwarry Primary School dressed in blue to raise diabetes awareness. They have raised $687.95 with fundraising efforts continuing.
Ms Silva said there was a lot of media attention for type 2 diabetes, but much less for juvenile type 1 diabetes. “As a mum of a now six-year-old type 1 diabetic, I am very passionate in raising awareness for this auto-immune, non-preventable, life-long, incurable disease.”
“There are more and more kids being diagnosed each month and awareness is greatly needed for this very deadly disease.”
She says it’s not just parents but also doctors who need to become more familiar with the symptoms and dangers. “Our GP told us our son was too young to get type 1 diabetes and wanted us to go home and not to worry.
“I had to beg for a blood test, which he again refused, saying that it was too traumatic for kids to have a blood test done.
“But I wouldn’t leave without one as I was sure my baby had type 1 diabetes as he had three of the main symptoms which I read up on the internet.”
After a morning blood test, a pathologist contacted the family that evening urging Ms Silva to rush Tristan to Monash Hospital.
Now in grade prep at Columba Catholic Primary School, Tristan has to do a finger-stick blood test every two hours, carefully monitor his food and drink intake, and use an insulin pump. A common cold or gastro bug could land him in hospital.
“Our story is quite similar to so many,” Ms Silva said. “Every day is an absolute rollercoaster.”
She said the symptoms leading to Tristan’s diagnoses were extreme thirst, constant hunger, sudden weight loss and frequent urination. Other signs are blurred vision, extreme tiredness, mood changes, vomiting and acetone/fruity breath.
If you notice two or more symptoms, Ms Silva urged an urgent visit to a doctor for a urine or finger- prick test.
She said no-one was ever “too young” or “too old” to be diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.
Published in the Warragul & Drouin Gazette, November 25, 2014