As with some of the other moms you’ve been introduced to here, I also met Stacey on Twitter. Her son is the same age as my daughter and I looked to her blog and tweets as we were thinking of switching from injections to the pump.
I’d like to introduce you to Stacey Simms.
Tell me something about your child.
Benny is five years old and full of energy. He loves to play, any sport any time. He wants to be a rock star, a fire fighter and a pilot. Benny’s got a great attitude and will knock you over with hugs and kisses.
How old was your child when diagnosed?
How was your child diagnosed?
Benny hadn’t been well for a few weeks, but it was inconsistent. He’d be thirsty and wet for a day or two and then fine. I had been a TV health reporter and knew just enough to recognize the symptoms, so we had a fasting BG test done. When it came back normal, it was very scary. What else could it be? It must have just been the honeymoon because a few days later, we got the blood work back and his A1c was 11. Off to the hospital we went!
How has your child’s life changed since diagnosis?
Benny is 5 and has now lived with diabetes longer than without. He doesn’t remember life before, but of course we do! We honestly didn’t have to make a lot of dietary changes; since getting Benny’s pump almost 3 years ago, our diets are about the same as they were before. Of course, now we keep track of everything Benny eats, check him 6-8 times a day and rock the pump all day long.
How has your family’s life changed since diagnosis?
We don’t live near family, so childcare is a concern. My husband and I both work challenging jobs with crazy schedules and when he was diagnosed, Benny was in daycare. I’m a morning radio show host and get up at 3:30am. My husband owns and runs a restaurant. I considered quitting my job to stay home with Benny, but incredibly, our center was already caring for a little girl with type 1. They knew more than we did! Benny went back to school 5 days after diagnosis. We’ve also trained several babysitters, including his preschool teacher.
We worry, of course, and we work hard to make sure we manage Benny’s diabetes tightly and well. However, whenever possible, we do not let diabetes slow us down.
How do you manage diabetes?
Benny got his Animas 2020 pump on July 4th of 2007 – when he was two and a half. He’s been off and pumping ever since. We check his blood sugar 6-8 times a day. The hardest part for us is keeping up with his growth spurts. Benny’s grown 5 inches and gained 16 pounds in the last 15 months! We just keep upping that basal.
To see Benny in action and hear Stacey talk about managing his diabetes, visit the News 14 website to view a video of the family, including big sister Lea.
How has connecting online helped you cope with diabetes? What online resources do you use?
My listeners were very interested in Benny’s diagnosis, but it’s not as though we could devote hours of our news program to diabetes. So, shortly after his diagnosis, I started my blog. It’s been wonderful for me. I can’t say enough good stuff about the online diabetes community. I’m on Facebook, Twitter and TuDiabetes, mostly.
What would you tell parents of a newly diagnosed child?
It’s hard to believe, but this will get easier. Reach out and connect with people who understand. Blogs like this are invaluable (thanks, D-Mom!). I would also recommend connecting with adult type 1’s, like Six Until Me. It’s wonderful to see how well they’re doing and to imagine our children grown up and healthy as well. Our nurse in the hospital was type 1 and pregnant with her second child!
If you have other children as we do (big sister Lea is 8), I’d urge you to make an effort to include them. It’s a delicate balance of educating Lea and letting her help, without making her responsible for her little brother. She’s been terrific – checking him in the back seat of the car and using the pump with our supervision.
What do you know now that you wish you had known at diagnosis?
I wish I knew how awesome lidocaine cream is for changing an infusion set and that Dreamfields pasta is the bomb.
Do you do any fundraising or outreach?
I’m on the Board of the Charlotte Chapter of JDRF and part of D-Buddies, a fun, local group of preschoolers with type 1. I also wrote a cookbook with all profits going to JDRF. We gave a $10,000 donation in June, which was so much fun! It’s called I Can’t Cook, But I Know Someone Who Can – featuring recipes from Charlotte’s best chefs and my kitchen disasters. I’m sort of a public personality in Charlotte, so I do all I can to help spread the word about type 1 diabetes.
Meet other D-Moms and D-Dads each Monday.