By Mark Mitten
McLEOD, WRIGHT COUNTIES, MN This past December, 12-year-old Gwyn Schmidt of Waverly was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, joining other children in the area who face this serious autoimmune disease.
“I wasn’t feeling good,” Schmidt recalled. “One day I went to the doctor. Now, I feel a lot better and I can control it better.”
Gwyn’s mother, Toni, described how her daughter began acting unusual in late November, and symptoms worsened in December.
“She was not herself at all,” Toni said. “She was slowly getting more lethargic.”
They ended up taking an ambulance ride to Children’s Hospital in St. Paul and spent three nights there. The situation was so new that it took some time to absorb what was happening. Only recently has the feeling of shock worn off.
“Gwyn was such a trooper, even though she was pretty sick at the time,” Schmidt said. “Children’s Hospital did a great job, trained us on how to give shots, and answered all our questions.”
Now, it has just become part of the daily routine. They have to check her blood glucose five times a day and give shots if her blood glucose is too high. Adjusting to a life with diabetes has been a process, but they feel like they can manage it well.
Winsted’s Dakota Patterson
Dakota Patterson, 15, the daughter of Mike Patterson of Winsted, is another local girl with type 1 diabetes.
She had been used to giving herself daily injections, and was excited to recently be able to get an insulin pump,
“When I heard, I screamed,” she said.
An insulin pump is a small computerized device that helps people with diabetes maintain their blood sugar. The pump automatically gives insulin in small continuous doses throughout the day, as well as larger doses at mealtimes. But it is also a responsibility, requiring a level of maturity to troubleshoot if the pump doesn’t function right, and the ability to calculate dosages.
“I’m a big dancer,” Patterson explained. “I know when I’m exercising if my blood sugar goes high. It makes me feel weak.”
At the March 5 fundraiser, Dakota has been asked to speak about type 1 diabetes and how it affects her life. Gwyn is planning to attend the event, as well.
There are two kinds of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes, also known as juvenile diabetes, is an autoimmune disease in which the body does not produce insulin. This is mainly diagnosed in kids and young adults, and only 5 percent of people with diabetes have this form. Type 2 diabetes is more common, where the body produces insulin but does not use it properly.
Saturday, March 5 fundraiser
What: A fundraiser with all proceeds benefiting the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Admission is free.
Where: Blue Note Ballroom in Winsted
When: Saturday, March 5 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Activities: More than 20 crafters and small business vendors, a kids’ carnival with face painting and balloon sculptures, massages, music by the Total Country Band, Easter photos, a bake sale, a chance to read with “Penny” the therapy dog, and a silent auction.