Mar 5, 2020, 10:59:11 AM CST Mar 5, 2020, 11:28:14 AM CST

Expert care and technology help a young girl manage type 1 diabetes

After 5-year-old Susanna was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, she and her family turned to the team at Children's Health for support

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Susanna Susanna

When Susanna was 5 years old, she started having regular accidents, even though she had been potty-trained since she was a toddler. At first, her parents thought the accidents may just stem from behavioral issues. But when Susanna began drinking an unusual amount of water and losing weight, her family began to suspect something more serious was going on.

"One Wednesday night after church, when we came to pick her up from class, her teacher told us that Susanna had used the bathroom nine times during the hour-long service," Susanna's mother, Tammy, says. "We made an appointment with her pediatrician the very next day."

Susanna's family copes with a surprising diagnosis

At the pediatrician's office, tests revealed Susanna's blood sugar levels were extremely elevated and there were high levels of ketones in her urine. Her doctor instructed her parents to bring her to the emergency room immediately.

Tammy drove Susanna to Children's Medical Center Dallas, where she was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and admitted to the Endocrinology unit.

Over the next few days, Susanna and her family met with Ximena Lopez, M.D., Pediatric Endocrinologist at Children's Health℠ and Associate Professor at UT Southwestern. A team of diabetes educators, dietitians and other team members helped the family learn more about how to manage her disease.

"Her diagnosis totally just knocked us off our feet," says Tammy. "At first, the information was so overwhelming, but the team was so helpful in making sure we understood everything we needed to know. Susanna really bonded with her diabetes educator, and Dr. Lopez also took the time to answer all of Susanna's questions, which played a huge role in building their relationship right from the start."

Once home from the hospital, Susanna and her family continued to monitor her insulin levels throughout the day and count carbs with every snack and meal. She uses a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) to limit the number of finger pricks she endures each day, but does still require insulin injections with every meal and at nighttime.

The Diabetes Advisor App makes managing Susanna's care easier

Susanna's diabetes diagnosis affects every part of her family's life: interrupting their sleep to check Susanna's glucose monitor, affecting Susanna's concentration at times and even making it challenging to leave town for a spur-of-the-moment trip. But Tammy is grateful for the online tools and technology offered by Children's Health, like the Diabetes Advisor App, which helps her successfully manage Susanna's diagnosis at home.

For Tammy, the app, which provides real-time advice on how to manage many common issues related to diabetes, has been incredibly helpful, especially when Susanna is ill or has a higher-than-normal level of ketones in her urine.

"Based on the information I enter into the app, it will tell me exactly what she needs to drink and when and will send me reminders for when she needs to re-test her glucose levels, which may be different than what we typically do on any other given day," Tammy says. "It's very helpful when Susanna is sick."

Susanna doesn't let diabetes hold her backSussana

Susanna, now age 7, continues to see Dr. Lopez and her team every three months to monitor her progress and make adjustments to her insulin dosages as needed. And while her diagnosis does affect certain aspects of her day-to-day routine, Susanna is otherwise just like her peers.

"Susanna is able to do everything a kid with a working pancreas can do," says Tammy. "She just started taking piano lessons, loves everything to do with horses and is a very active young girl."

And that's music to the Endocrinology team's ears.

"By providing support – and the technology and tools to make the day-to-day easier – we want to empower our diabetes patients to manage their condition confidently and to live full, happy lives," says Dr. Lopez.

Learn more

The Pediatric Diabetes Program at Children's Health offers around-the-clock care for children with diabetes. Our award-winning program gives you and your child the tools you need to live the lives you want, even with diabetes. Learn more about our program and services.

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chronic condition, diabetes, patient story, treatment

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