This flu season is serious, People! With this year's outbreak being twice as deadly as last year's, the CDC's homepage is currently dedicated purely to the flu.
In our community, there's always fear that a nasty flu virus can trigger type 1 diabetes, and that the symptoms of T1D often mirror the flu and can lead to misdiagnosis.
On that note, today we're welcoming D-Mom Sarah Lucas, co-founder and CEO of the powerhouse nonprofit Beyond Type 1 in California. The group has pushed T1D and DKA awareness since its inception, and we've written about its DKA campaign before.
A Cautionary Tale, by Sarah Lucas of Beyond Type 1
As the past year came to a close, a 14-year-old boy in Missouri named Hunter Chandler had been sick with symptoms similar to those commonly experienced with the flu. By the time the teenager was hospitalized and tests were performed, his organs began to fail and it was too late to reverse the deadly effects of DKA (diabetic ketoacidosis).
Hunter’s twin brother Logan, who had been also ill but had not displayed the same extreme symptoms, was given a blood glucose test. From that simple check, doctors discovered his blood sugar levels were dangerously elevated. Logan was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and lived.
Tragically, Hunter -- like many others before him -- did not. He died on Jan. 1, 2018.
How is it with all that modern medicine has to offer, that today a boy can die from T1D while his twin brother lives?
Because Hunter’s diagnosis did not come in time.
Early warning signs, like unquenchable thirst and frequent urination, can be easily excused. Headaches and blurry vision can be dismissed, while irritability, weight loss and fatigue can be ignored. By the time nausea, vomiting and rapid or labored breathing set in, often the flu or a virus is suspected.
With all that the Internet, social media and technology has to offer, how is it possible that the majority of the population still does not understand that undiagnosed type 1 diabetes is fatal?
Because the majority of people really talking about type 1 are the people living with type 1, and we are primarily talking, often in anger, amongst ourselves.
We are debating why this disease isn’t called something else. Or why no one should tell your kid they can’t eat whatever they want. We are battling about which companies are conspiring against us, which researchers have the only right answer, which joke has offended us, which comment should roll off our backs. We’re fighting in tweets, in blogs, in comments and in all caps, lobbing these words at ourselves... all while type 1 sneaks in and claims another life.
I have written about the death of a child before. And today, with great sorrow, I write about another. I do so with hope that the words I am deploying might land just right this time, that we can turn from our internal debates and use the power of our community to educate others, those on the outside. If we can arm the community with the information and empower them to just ask for that urine test or that finger stick just to make certain it is in fact the flu, or an infection, or a virus. If we can do that, together, then together, we can save lives.
Personally and through Beyond Type 1, I'll be sharing the warning signs and asking others to do the same. That challenge is to ask: Would you share this post below (or a downloadable print version) with two people and ask them to do the same?
Or possibly this video featuring actor Victor Garber, who also lives with type 1 diabetes?
I'll be doing all of that. So maybe next time, a brother won’t have to grow up without his twin.
Thanks for sharing this, Sarah, albeit tragic to hear. It is critical indeed to reach out to the broader community beyond just our own "diabetes bubble."