“It felt like being hit by an asteroid.”
That is how Chandra Weising, who lives in Mt. Juliet, describes what it was like the day her then 5-year-old daughter, Paige, was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.
Chandra and her husband, Mark, first noticed their daughter’s symptoms around St. Patrick's Day in 2009. She remembers that Paige made a little video about leprechauns, and Chandra noticed how tired Paige looked. She had also been drinking more water than usual and going to the bathroom more frequently, but she had just started playing T-ball and they rationalized this as just a side effect of the extra exercise.
Then, Paige started getting up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom and wanting to drink a large glass of water before going back to sleep.
Chandra called their pediatrician and spoke to the nurse, who didn’t think the symptoms sounded too serious. When Paige continued to experience symptoms over the next few days, and also developed a rash, Chandra called their doctor again. Chandra said she is thankful she decided to call again, as it turned out Paige had Type 1 diabetes (T1D).
T1D is an auto-immune disease in which the body stops producing insulin – a hormone essential to turning food into energy. It strikes children and adults suddenly, and has nothing to do with diet or lifestyle. T1D cannot be prevented, and at present, there is no cure.
Chandra met other moms of children with T1D through the JDRF chapter in California, where the family lived when Paige was diagnosed. She remains close with this group even now living in Mt. Juliet. She said she is grateful for some advice one of these good friends gave her, which was to give herself space to learn about living with T1D.
Recent advancements in diabetes technology have also made a huge difference in the Weising family’s daily lives. Paige now uses an insulin pump that helps her dose insulin more precisely than with injections, and the pump uses an algorithm to automatically stop insulin delivery when it predicts a low blood sugar.
Technology like this is available in part due to funding from JDRF, the leading global organization funding Type 1 diabetes research. JDRF is doing research with beta cell replacement. This is an experimental therapy that involves implanting protected insulin-producing cells inside the body of someone with T1D, allowing them to produce their own insulin while shielding the cells from immune attack.
Paige, who is now 16, dreams of one day throwing her needles and devices away, and living a life free from Type 1 diabetes. That is why for many years, the Weisings have supported JDRF.
On Sept. 28, Chandra, Mark, Paige, and her brother, John, will be participating in the JDRF One Walk in Nashville. To support Paige in the JDRF One Walk, go to walk.jdrf.org, search for Paige Weising, and click Donate.