Life for a Child supports over 200 young people living with type 1 diabetes across Jamaica. One of those young people is Bill, a seventeen year old student from Kingston, Jamaica. The Diabetes Association of Jamaica recently sent us this story after one of their staff members had a chat with Bill and his Mom about his diagnosis, school and camp.
Bill is no different from his peers, in the way he looks and behaves. However, he is different……He was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when he was four years old. Bill’s Mom explained how her son was first diagnosed with diabetes:
“He fractured his right elbow when he was four. We took him to the hospital where they did surgery on his elbow. It lasted nine hours! Shortly after that, he started drinking a lot of water and losing a lot of weight – around 12 pounds! Then the most dramatic thing happened. He started wetting his bed. We took him back to the paediatrician who did some tests. The tests showed that he had diabetes. He was admitted to hospital where he stayed for two long months and we learned how to manage his diabetes.’’
How did he feel after he was diagnosed? I asked Bill’s Mom.
‘’At first he was shy about it. He would cry, become sad and feel different from his friends. Many of the kids didn’t know about Bill’s condition, but the teachers certainly did, and were aware that they should call me if anything was amiss. It was hard to accept at first, that an apparently normal, healthy child at birth could develop diabetes. But as years go by, I realised that Bill has diabetes for life, and you have to learn to live with it as best you can. It’s a long road but there’s a lot to give thanks for. Bill has done very well over the years and his last admission to hospital for his diabetes was when his father died eight years ago”.
Being a single mother is demanding, however Ann-Marie says she has coped because her job provides flexible hours. Over time Bill’s initial sadness and disappointment with having type 1 diabetes has eased and his mother says that his attitude and mood has improved. ”The real change came when he attended a camp for children and young people with diabetes. Here he saw so many other kids with diabetes and he became more accepting of his condition, and felt less alone”.
Bill told us how much he enjoyed camp; “I’ve been to Camp Yellowbird twice. It was a good experience! I felt very comfortable, imagine, everybody the same…everyone has diabetes. I didn’t feel odd! And I met some interesting people. I have a lot of friends, at school and outside” says Bill. He describes himself as easy going and very sociable.
Bill says, “I feel I manage my diabetes quite well. I follow the guidelines given to me by the Diabetes Association of Jamaica. I eat healthily, I take insulin injections every day, I get counselling from time to time and I visit my specialist doctor every six months for a check-up”.
Bill has applied the discipline he has learnt in managing his diabetes to his academic life at high school. Now he is in the lower 6th form, he realises that there’s a vast difference between fifth and sixth form work. A very independent, confident young man, he is a high achiever. He excelled in the CSEC exams with 11 subjects. Focusing on the sciences in lower sixth, his aim is to become a medical doctor. He believes with hard work he can earn a scholarship.
Bill loves sport, and in particular, football and is a keen supporter of his school’s team, so he was thrilled with his school’s recent 2-1 win in a critical match in the Walker’s Cup. He firmly believes in the importance of physical activity. He swims and was a member of his school’s swim team up to last year. He has his own routine of exercising, doing push ups.
Bill is very interested in outreach and has been named the Diabetes Association of Jamaica’s Youth Ambassador. He is anxiously awaiting his first assignment!
Your donations make it possible for Life for a Child to provide Bill with essential insulin, supplies and diabetes education. There are still many children that need our support, make a donation today.