Kathy Moore, her husband Anthony and daughters Bella and Gracie
Just over a year ago, eight-year-old Bella Moore’s world changed forever when she was diagnosed with Type 1 (T1) Diabetes, but the brave Newbridge girl has fought back to live as normal a life as possible.
Looking back prior to the diagnosis, her mum, Kathy recalls; “I noticed she was drinking allot and she was very thirsty, so we brought her to the doctor.”
T1 Diabetes was confirmed and after further examination of Bella’s blood sugars, Kathy was told 90% of children arrive to hospital in a coma at those levels.
The most common misconception is that obesity is the cause of the condition.
“One of the most frustrating things is when you read articles and they speak about ‘Diabetes’, but don’t define it as T1 or T2, and these are totally different illnesses and it’s a battle of all T1s to have to explain how their illness had nothing to do with their life style choices, but that it is an auto immune disease, which leaves the pancreas in a permanent nonfunctioning state,” she says.
“At least it’s not cancer,” was another common response Kathy was greeted with, when she told people the news.
Now, the Newbridge mum wants to raise awareness of the symptoms so other parents can spot the signs, because if undetected, children can get gravely ill.
Symptoms include increased thirst and frequent urination, extreme hunger, weight loss, fatigue, irritability or behaviour changes, fruity-smelling breath, blurred vision and yeast infections.
When a diagnosis is made, the bombshell not only affects the child, it affects the entire family. Monitoring Bella’s food intake is an arduous and painstaking task.
“When I make Bella’s lunch for school I have to weigh everything and then calculate the carb content, I then separate her lunch as to what she will eat for first break, and then for second break, and this is then written in a note book with the carb contents for her SNA and this will be used to administer her dosage through her insulin pump prior to her eating,” explains Kathy.
Even when Bella is asleep, her parents can’t relax. She has a special monitor, which sets off an alarm if her sugar levels spike or fall dangerously low.
“There are no parents out there with a T1 child who are not suffering from sleep deprivation, unfortunately just because your child is fast asleep their diabetes isn’t, and they constantly need to be checked during the night for Hypos (low blood sugar) or hypos (high blood sugar) both of which can have very serious implications for the child.”
Kathy was hugely impressed with the treatment her child received after the diagnosis.
“Crumlin hospital provides an amazing service in their diabetes clinic, not only for the child, but for the parents. Within the first couple of weeks we were referred to a councilor that is 100% dedicated to the clinic,” she explains.
“I had requested this because, besides the obvious illness side to the disease, there is a massive physiological impact on the child that is ill and to siblings and parents.
“I don’t know how to describe it other than Bella was just so so sad, she went from being a bubbly, carefree 7 year old to being sad all of the time, and constantly telling me how much she hated her life, and to her, this was worse than the diagnosis itself.”
When the family went to the psychologist, he described the feeling as “grief”.
“We might not be conscious of it, but we all have plans and visions of how our children will group up, and now that has changed, and everything that she does requires planning, and you grieve for the life you thought they were going to have.
“Time is a great healer and the distraction of Christmas seemed to snap us all out of it and we now just get on with it and she is back to the happy little nutter that she was,” says Kathy.
Other changes have also occurred in day to day life.
“My parents are elderly, but fit and live at home, which is around the corner from ours, and the girls would regularly pop around by themselves, but this doesn’t happen anymore,” outlines Kathy.
“Bella rarely goes by herself as the pump and carb counting is too difficult for my Mam and sleep overs are out of the question, and I know my parents miss this.”
Like most girls, the eight year-old loves her style, but dresses are a massive problem when you have a mechanical device attached to your abdomen and wear a bum bag to carry it.
“We are lucky we live close to some fantastic hospital and get the services we need, but there are so many children that are deprived of an easier life with this horrible disease because of geography, and this takes into account the services that their local hospital provide or don’t, and also the budget allocated from the HSE for that area dictates how quickly you can get the equipment you need,” says Kathy.
She is hugely grateful to Newbridge Educate Together School. “They have enabled Bella to go to school and be normal and they give me great peace of mind knowing that she is safe and being looked after when I'm not with her.”