Nov 01, 2023
patient name: Adler Miller
condition: type 1 diabetes
seen in: endocrinology
Adler Miller is a fun, smart and active 10-year-old girl. Between her travel volleyball team, sideline cheerleading and spending time swimming or riding her bike, she certainly keeps herself and her family busy. Even with her diagnosis of type 1 diabetes, nothing can slow Adler down.
Adler’s Dayton Children’s journey begins
On April 18, 2023, Adler’s parents, Allyson and BJ, took her to the pediatrician’s office for a checkup. Adler had been waking up to use the bathroom in the middle of the night for around a week and they were hoping to understand what was causing this new nighttime routine. After an initial urine sample, it was clear that there was something serious going on.
“We waited not even 10 minutes and when the nurse practitioner, the nurse and our usual provider all came back into the room, we knew something was different,” Allyson remembered.
Adler’s pediatrician was concerned further testing would lead to a diagnosis of type 1 diabetes. The family headed home to pack their bags for the first of many life-changing visits to Dayton Children’s.
navigating a new diagnosis
During her first days at Dayton Children’s, Adler was officially diagnosed with type 1, confirming her pediatrician’s suspicions. As this new phase of Adler’s life began, her care team was by her side every step of the way.
“The first few days after Adler’s diagnosis were all of the emotions wrapped into hours of fog,” Adler’s mom Allyson explained. “We met so many people – a dietitian, a social worker, nurses aids, multiple nurses and doctors. Everyone was everything to us. It's incredible to think about how calm that fog felt for those first few days.”
constant support from the care team
Yelena Nicholson, DO took the lead as Adler’s endocrinologist. Dr. Nicholson, along with various other staff members, helped Adler and her family learn the ins and outs of living with type 1. Even though they were faced with so much new information, like how to dose for certain foods and give insulin shots, Allyson said they were never overwhelmed thanks to the efforts of Adler’s team.
“We kept saying it felt like having a newborn all over again,” Allyson said. “But the constant support and encouragement from everyone made the entire situation doable.”
Sarah Mustaine, diabetes disease coordinator, became a particularly important part of Adler’s care team. During Adler’s stay at Dayton Children’s, Sarah helped ease some of the stress facing the family with encouraging words and actions.
“She was patient with us and so calming and loving towards Adler,” Allyson said. “It was that kind of comfort that she might not have even known we needed. We truly trusted everything she said, and she made us feel like we were more than just part of the job.”
calm, cool and collected
Even though her life changed after her diagnosis, Adler’s positive attitude remained the same. She meets every new challenge with a smile, ready to learn and determined not to let type 1 keep her down. Allyson says that Adler “is an old soul and young at heart.”
At the hospital, Adler was eager to try her One Touch® glucose monitor on her own, and even chose to administer her own first dose of insulin, instead of a nurse. Her bravery even wowed her care team!
“She has an ease and confidence about her that is hard to put into words,” Allyson said. “She has never wavered in her determination to understand her diagnosis and maintain positivity.”
going home and beyond
After returning home, the new normal for the Miller family really set in. Challenges emerged in factors of daily life that they had taken for granted prior to Adler’s diagnosis. Meal prep, sleeping routines and school were suddenly new experiences.
learning to count carbs
Maintaining a healthy, balanced diet is important for type 1 diabetes management. Even though there are not necessarily food restrictions with type 1, matching the amount of carbs consumed with dosages of insulin is an extremely important step in keeping blood sugar steady and avoiding medical emergencies.
“I remember crying at the counter because dinner was going to be chicken, quinoa and peas, but I couldn’t figure out how to dose for the quinoa,” Allyson said. “I was terrified we were going to create this image or stigma in her head that food was bad, and she would never be able to eat again.”
The Miller family continued to receive support from everyone around them. Staff members at Adler’s school, parents of her friends and family members all jumped to help in any way they could. They sent podcasts and books, created safe spaces for Adler at school and were there for any questions Allyson or BJ might have about type 1.
Even Adler’s 6-year-old younger sister, Perry, wants to help keep her sister safe.
“She double checks that Adler has her phone and insulin with her,” Allyson said. “She will tell people Adler needs juice if her blood sugar is low and insulin if it is high. Although she doesn’t totally understand the intricacies of Adler’s diagnosis, she wants to protect her.”
looking forward and enjoying every moment
Adler’s current care is relatively simple. She uses the Dexcom G7 to track her blood sugar and double checks from time to time with her One Touch Meter. Adler also visits Dr. Nicholson every three months but is only a click away from help and support through MyKidsChart messaging. This fall, Adler is hoping to be fit for an insulin pump after the Dexcom G7 is made compatible!
It’s been a long journey in the months since Adler’s diagnosis, Adler and her family are all looking forward to the bright future ahead.
“Life will continue to happen, just as it did before,” Allyson said. “It’s easy to feel overwhelmed, we all did and still do, but like the day you brought your baby home, you will find confidence in this new normal soon.”