By Gord Bowes, News staff
World Diabetes Day (Nov. 14) is upon us and Rodnie Huybens isn’t paying much attention.
At age 5, Rodnie is dealing with Type 1 diabetes but it’s not really something he worries about. He goes about his daily activities like any other kid, says mom Kris-Anne Huybens.
Rodnie goes to school, runs around, roughhouses with his brother, plays hockey and even goes swimming with his insulin pump attached to his waist.
“Every day, he does his thing like the other kids,” she says. “He can’t understand he can’t do something.”
Rodnie was diagnosed with diabetes at age 2. He had what the family thought was a cold, but the sudden weight loss, strange behaviour and constant thirst tipped off his grandmother, who suggested he be checked for diabetes, which is common on both sides of the youngster’s family.
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease in which a person’s pancreas stops producing insulin, a hormone that enables people to get energy from food, notes the JDRF (formerly known as the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation). It usually strikes in childhood, adolescence or young adulthood, and lasts a lifetime. Just to survive, those who are affected must take multiple injections of insulin daily or continually infuse insulin through a pump.
Rodnie, a Blessed Teresa of Calcutta student, wears a pump which can be monitored remotely by his parents or a nurse. He does need to have his finger poked for blood sugar level tests up to 10 times a day, but other than feeling the $7,000 pump activate several times a day and having a new needle inserted every few days, he doesn’t really notice his affliction.
“It sounds scary because he gets (a needle) every three days,” says older brother A.J., 6. “I hold his hand.”
A.J. adds that if he were to find out he has diabetes, “I would be brave like him.”
While Rodnie was diagnosed quickly, before serious damage to vital organs and the immune system set in, others aren’t so lucky. It’s important to know the signs, says Kris-Anne.
Each year, the family comes together as Team Hot Rod for the annual Walk for a Cure fundraiser. Donations help research such as the artificial pancreas project, which could produce a new form of diabetes management which replaces pin pricks and the pump within a few years.
“We hope for a cure, but we also hope for better management,” says Kris-Anne.
For more information about World Diabetes Day, which marks the discovery of insulin, see worlddiabetes.ca.