November is National Diabetes Awareness Month, a very special month for a lot of people that treat their diabetes in silent and those that are a little more open about it.
According to the CDC 34.2 million people have diabetes in the United States. That’s over 10 percent of the U.S. population. Of those 34.2 million, 26.9 million people are diagnosed and 7.3 million people are undiagnosed. Another 88 million people aged 18 years or older and 24.2 million people aged 65 years or older have prediabetes.
Eight of those 34.2 million people with diabetes are staff or students at the Hemingford Public School.
Bridgette Thompson and her daughters Teagan, 11, and Nevaeh, 7, have all been diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. They are very open about their battle with the disease and their hope of one day finding a cure.
Bridgette and her husband Bobby have a total of four children. Their son Gaige, 10, shows no signs of diabetes but the youngest of the four Thompson kids, Paislee, 4, is showing signs of pre diabetes.
Of the 34.2 million in the U.S. with diabetes 1.4 million adults ages 20 years and older are Type 1 and just 187,000 are children younger than 20.
The difference between Type 1 and Type 2:
- In type 1 diabetes, the body completely stops making insulin. People with type 1 diabetes must take daily insulin injections or use an insulin pump to survive.
- In type 2 diabetes, the body produces insulin, but the cells don’t respond to insulin the way they should.
“Like every parent out there, I muddle through many exhausting emotional phases,” said Bridgette. “Sometimes they seem to be on auto replay, or at least that’s what our routine feels like.”
“Just possibly our life is replay, because that just seems to be the ‘Diabetic life’. Our routine is the same day in and day out: every day, every hour, every meal and every restless night. Every morning we wake up with the same worry as the day before. The worry just sits, never fading or leaving for any given moment. It has been a rough few years, but we have finally accepted that this is our life and we were meant to live it this way.”
Both of the girls wear insulin pumps and have special devises connected to their arms called Dexcom’s. It constantly reads their blood sugar and sounds an alarm when the numbers aren’t where they should be.
Both girls are comfortable answering questions about the technology that they wear. Nevaeh was young enough that it is just how life is for her. However, Teagan is a little shyer about hers. As a middle schooler she has admittedly been made fun of for it but most kids are understanding once they know what it is.
“Sometimes kids make fun of it but I just try to turn it into a funny joke,” Teagan noted.
“When they say ‘momma, can you just leave it off for a moment… I want to feel normal’,” Bridgette said. “So many people take advantage of the life they have. There are so many warriors out there fighting a battle they didn't ask for... wishing for one moment, life could be ‘normal’. Though we are extremely blessed to have all this amazing technology, they have days where life would be better if... they weren't fighting for their life every single day.”
“I have the privilege of being momma of two warriors that deal with an auto immune disease. Their pancreas runs on batteries, it also is worn on the outside. Even on the tough days, these devices have been our saving grace.”
The girls got their pumps in May of 2020 but have had the Dexcom’s for a little over a year. Before that it was old school finger pricking and insulin shots. That’s how Bridgette monitors her diabetes because the devises are so pricy.
“I wanted them to get all the technology they needed before I did,” said Bridgette. “The pumps have made things a lot nicer than it was. We would have to sit and count everything they actually ate even down to ketchup, ranch, juice and little things like that that you wouldn’t think of. They still have to calculate their carb counts and put those numbers into their Dexcom’s.
Teagan knows how and can do it herself. Nevaeh also knows how but someone monitors the numbers that she enters as one wrong number will make a big change.
“My blood sugar was 160 and the carbs were 30 but one time I put it in backwards so it said I was supposed to get 64 units of insulin,” said Teagan.
“One wrong number can make a HUGE difference so that’s still scary,” Bridgette said.
Bridgette was diagnosed as a Type 1 diabetic her senior year in high school at the age of 17.
“I spent roughly most of the next 10 years in denial over a disease that could have at any time taken my life,” she said. “In August 2018, our daughter Nevaeh (4-years-old) was extremely ill. We fought endless months before to be told she just had a virus. Being a diabetic, I knew what was her diagnosis was I just needed someone to believe me. Deep down, my gut was in knots when we finally found a doctor that gave us that official diagnosis of Type 1 Diabetes. As if life hadn’t of thrown us enough curve balls, November came along and our daughter Teagan (9-years-old) was diagnosed Type 1 Diabetic as well. Our lives were flipped within seconds yet again. Every emotion I could think of just sat inside my stomach as I tried to keep myself collected. The only thought in my head at the time was ‘how on earth are we going to do this?”
Shots had to be given to each girl roughly six or so times a day and panic soon set in. The ‘what if’ questions set in: “What if I made a mistake? What if that mistake caused bigger problems? What if they go to bed and don’t wake up? These are all questions that to this day still pass through my mind daily,” she said.
“It has been an up and down past few years, many trial and errors. The midnight glucose checks, the millions pricks, and the unknown amount of pump site changes and injections and the mental struggles we faces. We made it though.”
“No life is easy, especially when medical issues rise up. We have learned that through all our mistakes, our trial and errors, many sleepless nights and all the highs and lows... is that there is always something positive to strive for. This life was given to us for a reason, and I strongly believe it was because our purpose is to make a difference, educate and advocate.”
“We were put on this earth to serve a mission and we are doing just that by raising awareness for Diabetes,” said Bridgette. “Diabetes comes in many different forms, but the two most common are Type 1 and Type 2. Type 1 is an auto immune disease where your body attacks the insulin producing cells; in turn you become insulin dependent. Type 2 can be genetic and is more common in older age groups but can normally be controlled lifestyle changes, and diet...though depending on the body, some need insulin to maintain their glucose levels. Diabetes is known as the ‘silent killer’. Why? Because signs and symptoms are that of a normal flu or virus. Other signs that can help determine this are constant fatigue, frequent urination, and weight loss. I encourage you all to take these signs in, because you could really be saving a life.”
Teagan and Bridgette have accepted the challenge of running 100 miles in December to raise awareness for Type 1 diabetes. They are using their passion for running to help fight for a cure.
“We will run a minimum of 3.4 miles per day to reach our goal by the end of the month. This challenge is going to bring out many struggles and obstacles, but we are ready to face them. We would love for the community to join us on Facebook and Instagram as we embark this journey to raise awareness for Diabetes.”
“We will also be fundraising awareness shirts in the next few weeks to help fight for a cure,” Bridgette added. “All proceeds will go to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation to help find that cure. If you would like to hear more information on Diabetes or ways to help, please reach out to me or visit JDRF.com where there are great articles about Diabetes and ways to help as a peer.”
“Dosing decisions are required every time my girls or I eat,” Bridgette noted. “Sit on that for a minute… Every meal, every single day, every holiday, every party, every vacation... there is a constant thought process. I am pushing for a cure because I believe no one should have to live their life in constant worry that the same medicine that is saving their life... could also kill them with one small error.”
Follow Bridgette Thompson on Facebook and Instagram to see the progress or join in on the running challenge or to purchase a t-shirt.