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Grant WooleyGrant Wooley is an eight-year-old boy from Jackson Center, Ohio who is very into nature and loves being outside. He enjoys fishing, and on a typical night he doesn’t come home until the street lights come on. Grant also plays soccer and baseball, and is a Boy Scout. He is what his mom, Katherine, describes as “all boy.”

What you wouldn’t know about Grant, despite his very active lifestyle, is that he has type 1 diabetes.

When Grant was just two years old he developed symptoms like extreme thirst and excessive urination. With no prior knowledge of diabetes, Grant’s parents didn’t know that extreme thirst is a symptom of diabetes.

“Grant was so, so thirsty,” shares Grant’s mom, Katherine. “I swear if we left the toilet seat open he probably would have tried to drink out of it.”

After about two weeks of this, Grant started excessively urinating. “Grant was in diapers at the time, so I thought he was just going through a phase and he would be okay,” explains Katherine.

But when Grant started vomiting, along with the other symptoms, Katherine knew something wasn’t right.

“We took Grant to our family doctor in town who did a finger stick, and Grant’s blood sugar read over 600. A normal blood sugar reading should be between 70-120. Our doctor suspected type 1 diabetes and sent us to our local emergency department. They ran some blood work, but ultimately, we were sent to Dayton Children’s.”

At first, Grant’s parents didn’t know the severity of the disease.

“Dayton Children’s emergency department called me when we didn’t show up immediately and asked where we were. I didn’t understand that we were supposed to take him there right away,” shares Katherine.

When the Wooley family arrived at Dayton Children’s, reality set in. “As soon as we arrived, they started running tests on Grant and confirmed that he had type 1,” said Katherine. “We certainly became educated and understood how serious it was when we found out that if we had let it go any longer, I’m not sure where we’d be today.”

Grant was admitted to the PICU, and after a good meal and insulin he started feeling better. The next three days in the hospital were jam packed for the Wooleys, learning about diabetes from Moira Pfeifer, MD, Grant’s endocrinologist, and the rest of his care team. When they were discharged it felt like they were taking home a newborn baby.

“We love Dr. Pfeifer more than anything. She is amazing and has been with us since the very beginning. We felt like family from the get-go, and knew that Dr. Pfeifer wanted us to go home with as much knowledge as possible,” shares Katherine.

After recently celebrating his six-year anniversary of his type 1 diagnosis, Grant is a thriving eight-year-old.

Grant has learned to manage his diabetes really well. “Grant carries a little bag of supplies with him everywhere he goes, even out to recess. We go to a tiny school and don’t have a nurse, so Grant manages his diabetes himself,” says Katherine.

Two years ago, Grant was also diagnosed with juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA). Grant had very swollen wrists and his parents weren’t exactly sure why. “Typically, auto-immune diseases can come in twos or threes,” explains Katherine. X-rays confirmed that Grant had RA.

Grant sees Dustin Fleck, MD, chief division of rheumatology for his JIA. “We love Dr. Fleck. Grant receives an infusion every eight weeks and it’s great for him. You would never know he suffers from JIA,” shares Katherine.

“We have our ups and downs, but Grant is resilient and amazing, and inspires me every day,”  Katherine said. “I would encourage any parent going through a similar situation to not go through it alone. Get involved in your local Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) chapter or support group online. The level of support is amazing and it is comforting to know that you’re not alone.”