By Starrla Cray
McLEOD COUNTY, MN Like most college students, Ashley Hoese of Winsted and Morgan Roush of Lester Prairie are busy with classes, work, and planning for their future.
But these girls are also dealing with a disease that affects as many as 3 million Americans Type 1 diabetes.
As diabetics, their lives consist of at least six finger pricks (to test glucose) per day, insulin deliveries via a pump, carbohydrate counting, and correction calculations.
“The hardest part about diabetes is trying to balance everything out and staying in control,” Morgan noted. “A lot of everyday activities can impact blood sugar in different ways. Learning how your body reacts to these different activities can be key to staying in control of your diabetes.”
Morgan, the daughter of Doug and Janice Roush, found out she had diabetes when she was in fourth grade.
“Before I was diagnosed, I had lost a lot of weight, had been drinking a lot of water on a daily basis, and finally I became ill to the point of a hospital visit,” she recalled.
Ashley was 3.5 years old when she was diagnosed.
“She was throwing up, and excessively thirsty; she was asking for water all the time,” said her mother, Anita. “I knew it wasn’t a flu. I figured something was wrong, but I didn’t know what.”
After Ashley’s diagnosis, her parents Anita and Brad were trained how to give shots and manage the disease.
“It was a whole brand new world for us,” Anita said.
Although having diabetes isn’t easy, Ashley and Morgan haven’t let it get in the way of their goals.
Ashley graduated from Holy Trinity High School in Winsted last year, and is now a freshman at the University of Minnesota, Mankato, majoring in business management.
Morgan, who graduated from Lester Prairie High School in 2013, is pursuing a degree in biology, with the intent of becoming a physical therapist or other medical professional.
People with Type 1 diabetes don’t generally need to follow a special diet, as long as they adjust their insulin doses to compensate for different kinds of foods. Ashley and Morgan both use an insulin pump, which eliminates the need for shots.
“It gives me a very minuscule dose of insulin throughout the day,” Ashley said.
Morgan said getting the pump was one of the best decisions she ever made.
“The next thing I’m working on getting is a continuous glucose monitor,” she added. “This device will monitor my blood sugar levels and will communicate with my pump as far as insulin delivery.”
Advances in technology have made management of diabetes much easier, according to Anita.
“The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) has been doing wonders on research and different types of equipment,” she said. “They’ve been a source of hope and guidance through the years.”
Close to a cure?
Ultimately, Anita said she hopes a cure will be found, “not just for Ashley, but for all these little kids who are being diagnosed.”
According to JDRF, some people develop serious complications from diabetes, because long-term high blood sugar levels can damage blood vessels, nerves and organ systems.
The foundation states that strict blood sugar control is the only method proven to reduce the risk of complications, but it’s not a guarantee. JDRF is currently researching this, and other aspects of the disease.
“There’s a lot of promising research,” Ashley said. “I’d say one of the hardest things, right now, is hearing about all the advances, but the cure always seems just out of reach. I feel that we’re close.”
Five years ago, Ashley’s family began organizing an annual juvenile diabetes fundraiser in Winsted, with all proceeds benefiting JDRF.
This year, the event will take place Saturday, Feb. 28 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Blue Note Ballroom in Winsted.
“This event is not only aimed at fundraising but also education,” Morgan said. “We want more people to be informed, supportive, and driven to help us find a cure.”
Diabetes fundraiser at the Blue Note Saturday, Feb. 28
What: The fifth-annual juvenile diabetes fundraiser. The event will include crafters and small business vendors, a kids’ carnival, face painting, balloon sculptures, Easter portraits by Duran’s Photography with a live rabbit, a silent auction, bake sale, massages, and live music by Total Country Band.
When: Saturday, Feb. 28 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Where: The Blue Note Ballroom in Winsted.
Why: All money raised will go to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF).
Cost: Admission is free. There is a small charge for children’s games, and attendees can leave a free-will offering for massages. Duran’s Photography will donate portrait sitting fees to JDRF.
Contact: For more information and updates on items for the silent auction, check the “Juvenile Diabetes Fundraiser” page on Facebook.
What is diabetes?
Facts from the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and the American Diabetes Association:
• Type 1 vs. Type 2 There are two forms of diabetes. Type 1 (juvenile diabetes) is an autoimmune disease in which the body doesn’t produce enough insulin, a hormone that helps convert food into energy. Type 2 is a metabolic disorder, and accounts for 95 percent of diabetes cases. In Type 2, the body produces insulin, but doesn’t use it properly.
• Diabetes symptoms Typical symptoms may include urinating often, feeling very thirsty and very hungry, extreme fatigue, blurry vision, cuts/bruises that are slow to heal, weight loss (Type 1), and tingling/pain/numbness in the hands (Type 2). Early detection and treatment can decrease the risk of diabetes complications.