BY STARRLA CRAY
WINSTED, MN Today, Maggi Jagodzinski of Winsted is back to her happy, energetic, 8-year-old self.
“I haven’t been tired lately at all,” she says with bright eyes and cheery smile.
This past summer, though, it was a different story. Maggi was always thirsty and tired, and had dropped to weigh only 46 pounds.
“We knew something was going on; she was just skin and bones,” recalled her dad, Ron Jagodzinski.
Maggie’s mom, Angie, took her to the doctor in August, and she was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.
“It caught us by surprise,” Ron said.
The Jagodzinskis were given a “crash course” in how to administer insulin, check blood glucose levels, and log Maggi’s food intake.
“The first week was rough,” Ron said. “After a couple of weeks, we got better and better.”
Ron noted that Maggi’s older sister, McKenna, has been a huge help during the transition. The family now has a chart on their cupboard door listing the carbohydrate amounts for snacks, and each person is aware of Maggi’s needs.
According to the American Diabetes Association, carbohydrates are healthy for a diabetic, but they need to be consumed in moderation. Carbs turn into glucose, which is used for energy, but glucose can’t be used by cells without insulin. In type 1 diabetes, the body doesn’t produce insulin on its own, so shots are needed to help with this process.
Eating roughly the same amount of carbohydrates at each meal makes it easier for diabetics to control their blood sugar levels.
“It’s a learning experience,” Ron said.
Maggi is given insulin shots four times per day one before each meal and one before bed. Before each shot, she pricks her finger with a tiny needle and uses a test strip to measure her blood glucose level. Results are stored in a small computerized device, so that Maggi’s doctor can make sure the numbers aren’t too high or too low.
“It’s a lot of math,” Maggi laughed.
Managing diabetes at home and school
When Maggi started third grade this fall, students and staff at Holy Trinity School in Winsted were made aware of her condition.
“I had to stand in front of class,” Maggi said, explaining that the teacher talked to the class about what to do if she looks shaky or faints.
Holy Trinity’s cooks have also been supportive, providing a rough estimate of carb counts for each meal. After receiving an insulin shot at the school office, Maggi is given a head start in the lunch line.
At home, Maggi’s parents write down what Maggi eats for meals and snacks each day, and they monitor how food affects her blood glucose levels.
Although type 1 diabetes is a serious disease, the American Diabetes Association notes that people can learn to manage their condition and live long, healthy lives. Management includes blood glucose control, administering insulin, exercise, nutrition, and support from a healthcare team.
“There are a lot worse things to have,” Ron said. He added that a great deal of research is being done, and he hopes, someday, there will be a cure.
November is American Diabetes Month, and this year’s theme is “Eat Well, America!” Test your diabetes IQ with these questions and answers from the American Diabetes Association:
• Q1: Is diabetes a serious disease? Having diabetes increases a person’s risk for serious health complications, and many people die each year as a result. Fortunately, studies show that keeping blood glucose, blood pressure, and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels close to normal can help prevent or delay these problems.
• Q2: Does eating sugar cause diabetes? Type 1 diabetes is caused by genetics and unknown factors that trigger the onset of the disease; type 2 diabetes is caused by genetics and lifestyle factors. Being overweight raises a person’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes, and the American Diabetes Association recommends avoiding sugar-sweetened beverages, such as soda, energy drinks, and sports drinks.
• Q3: Do people with diabetes need to eat special foods? A healthy diet for people with diabetes is generally the same as a healthy diet for anyone. Meals should be based on lean protein, non-starchy vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats, and fruit. Foods marked as diabetic are usually more expensive and offer no added benefit.
• Q4: What is type 1 diabetes? Type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed in children and young adults, and was previously known as juvenile diabetes. Only 5 percent of people with diabetes have this form of the disease. In type 1 diabetes, the body does not produce insulin.