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Managing Type I Diabetes Encourages Makenzie to be a Vet
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Mackenzie was a happy and healthy 6-year-old, excited to see a movie that had just come out. So her mother, Sierra, puzzled over why Mackenzie fell asleep at the movie theater. Mackenzie was still groggy, but a few sips of Sprite pepped her back up.
A few nights later, she got up six or seven times to use the bathroom. Sierra thought that was odd. After a sugary breakfast the next morning, Mackenzie got sick. Suspecting she had a severe stomach bug, Sierra took her into urgent care, where it was discovered that Mackenzie had very high blood sugar. Her pancreas had simply stopped producing insulin, and she had type 1 diabetes.
“I never thought it would be diabetes. We have no family history of it,” says Sierra, who explains that her daughter’s A1C levels were so high that she could have been in a coma.
Mackenzie was rushed from urgent care to a local community hospital where she was stabilized with an insulin drip. From there she was transferred to the University of Maryland Children’s Hospital (UMCH). She stayed there for over a week before it was safe to go home.
Supported by the team at UMCH, Sierra quickly became a lay expert on type 1 diabetes so she could best help her daughter manage her condition and keep her in good spirits.
“Mackenzie actually did better with the insulin shots than I did,” says Sierra, “and she’s on the pen now. I commend her on the lifestyle changes she’s had to make.”
Today, Mackenzie is managing her condition quite well. She injects herself with insulin before each meal, counts the number of carbs she eats and measures her blood sugar before bed. She sees the pediatric endocrinology team at UMCH every three months to have her A1C levels evaluated and her insulin adjusted accordingly.
“Now that Mackenzie is entering adolescence, the hormones associated with puberty can cause insulin resistance – which increases her insulin requirements,” says Dr. Paula Newton, Director of Pediatric Endocrinology at UMCDE Midtown and a pediatric endocrinologist. “Children in this age group typically require closer monitoring and more frequent blood sugar adjustments. However, the UM pediatric endocrinology team has a great depth of experience in overcoming the challenges that kids with diabetes face at this stage of their lives so that they can grow into healthy adults.”
When she does grow up, as a lover of animals Mackenzie wants to be a veterinarian.