By Frank Lewis
It can be absolutely frightening when your 17-month-old child is suddenly diagnosed with type-1 diabetes. But that is exactly what happened in March to King’s Daughters Medical Center Ohio Dietician Malissa Sarver. It was then that she realized the area was in need of a support group.
November is Diabetes Awareness Month and in support of that event, Sarver will be beginning a type-1 diabetes support group for parents of children diagnosed and for adults with that diagnosis as well.
“A big misconception with type-1 is that it is just a kid’s disease,” Sarver said. “It’s true that usually they are diagnosed most of the time as a child but it never goes away. There is no cure. So they will always be type-1.”
Sarver said her goal is to raise more awareness of the illness. She said there is a big difference between type-1 diabetes and type-2 diabetes, and some people believe those suffering from type-1 can outgrow it. Sarver said that does not happen.
“I had a person on an ambulance on the way up to (Nationwide) Children’s (Hospital) say, ‘well, hopefully he’ll just be able to take pills,’” Sarver said. “I had to respond – ‘no, that’s type-2. He’s a type-1. He needs insulin. Without it he’ll die.’”
She said another goal is to raise money for type-1 diabetes. Sarver said she just posted something on her Facebook page that very little money is being raised for that disease and she wants to change that.
“I think it has a lot to do with it being kind of an invisible disease,” Sarver said. “People don’t look at my son and can tell he’s diabetic.”
Sarver said parents like her are in a bad place when they receive word of the diagnosis and they need support from others going through the same scenario.
“I was so distraught,” Sarver said. “Even though I’m a dietician and my husband is a nurse, just having that support – having parents who say – ‘this is not going to hold your child back. He’s going to do what he wants to do,’ and that is true. But you need someone to tell you that. You need someone to tell you about resources like BCMH (Bureau for Children with Medical Handicaps) that helps you financially.”
Sarver said parents and other individuals who have been through type-1 diabetes can share experiences with each other which helps answer many of the questions people have about the disease. She said the first meeting of the support group will be held on Nov. 10 at 7 p.m. at the lower lobby at KDMC Ohio.
Anyone needing information can call her 740-991-1430.
Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.