Diabetes: don’t sugar coat it

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This article appeared in the November 2021 issue of The Link. To receive Oak Valley Health’s community newsletter, subscribe now.

At first, a diabetes diagnosis can be overwhelming, family life and daily routines may seem more complicated in the beginning. The good news is, you have an entire community to fall back on and make you feel less alone.

This is where Oak Valley Health’s Tracey Rubinoff Paediatric Diabetes Clinic comes in. Located at the Markham Stouffville Hospital, it is the longest running program in York Region caring for children living with diabetes up to 18 years of age. The clinic is celebrating its 25 anniversary this year, and sees close to 450 patients.

You can have comfort knowing your child will have a team that includes a paediatric endocrinologist, diabetes nurse educators, registered dietitian and a social worker. The team has developed a Paediatric Diabetes Daycare Program for newly diagnosed children, to educate them about their disease over a span of three days. Children and youth learn how to manage the condition, including medication and nutrition and are then followed every three months until age 18.

Alice’s story

Alice 2.pngEarly in 2021, in and out of lockdowns, school closures, and a lack of social interaction, young kids were experiencing a new ‘normal’ and at the same time Alice Anderson began losing weight quickly. Bobby and Kylie, Alice’s parents, knew how tough a time this was for all children, and the anxiety they were feeling.

“Alice was turning 10 soon, so we figured she was just losing her youthful roundness and having a growth spurt,” shares Bobby and Kylie.

As the weight loss progressed, paired with frequent trips to the washroom and a never ending thirst, Alice’s parents grew more and more concerned.

“At this point, Alice was very tired all the time and had trouble keeping up with us on our walks to school,” says Kylie. “Her eyes were tired and dark, and one afternoon after rubbing her back to console her, I noticed her spine felt sharp.”

They knew immediately it was time to call the doctor. And, within no time, Alice was referred to the Paediatric Diabetes Program at Oak Valley Health’s Markham Stouffville Hospital.

“We had a very long and thorough appointment, of course we had lots of questions and Alice saw several different specialists,” says Bobby. “At the end of the day, Alice did a blood test and we were sent home.”

“We barely made it half way home when we received a phone call to turn around immediately,” Kylie explains. "I’m so thankful they did the blood test so quickly.”

Bobby and Kylie shared in a sense of relief when the paediatrician told them it was diabetes and that Alice would be able to do all of the things her friends could do.

“Alice was scared, but the nurses and doctors made her feel very special,” says Bobby. “She received excellent care around the clock and very quickly bonded with every team member assigned to her.”

Although Alice and her family now have the tools and resources to manage her diabetes at home, someone is available 24 hours a day if needed for on-going care.

“The team was fantastic and we learned so much in such a short time,” says Kylie. “They have given us the confidence to take care of Alice at home—from injections to diet to mental health to continuous glucose monitoring, the knowledge we’ve gained from our training sessions has made our lives much easier.”

The clinic has given the Anderson family their life back, Alice is thriving in school and mom and dad are able to continue on with their careers, feeling confident their daughter is strong and healthy.

“We are very lucky to have such a dedicated and caring team to follow Alice through on this new journey.”