Nov 14, 2023
patient name: Mason Green
condition: type 1 diabetes
seen in: endocrinology
Mason Green, 10, was not acting like himself when his parents decided to take him to the doctor in March 2022. He had lost weight, was very lethargic, had wet the bed a couple of times and could not keep food down. His parents, Sarah and Phillip, were becoming increasingly concerned.
After a visit to his primary care provider, Mason was diagnosed with a virus. However, when he did not improve after a few more days, Sarah took Mason to Dayton Children’s emergency department.
Mason’s Dayton Children’s journey begins
When Mason was admitted to the emergency department, it quickly became clear that he was dealing with something more serious than just a virus. Early tests revealed that his blood sugar levels were extremely high. Mason, who was only 8 at the time, was admitted to Dayton Children’s and diagnosed with type 1 diabetes on April 2.
“I knew right then that our life had changed,” Sarah said. “It was a very heartbreaking, very confusing time. But everyone we saw in the emergency department was really amazing.”
Mason was moved to the pediatric intensive care unit (PICU), where he spent the next two days, before moving to specialty pediatrics. During these three days, Mason and his family learned how to manage living with type 1 with the help of nurses and members of the endocrinology team. One nurse, who also had type 1 diabetes, was especially helpful in the learning process, Sarah said.
“She showed us her pump and gave us lots of advice,” she said. “She told us her story, which was so comforting, helping us know that Mason is not alone and that people grow up with this disease and thrive as adults.”
Other members of the endocrinology team also went above and beyond to make Mason’s first few days as easy as possible. Sarah Mustaine and Lauren Burneka, diabetes disease coordinators, were especially kind, understanding and willing to answer questions throughout Mason’s care, Sarah said.
finding helpful resources
The days and weeks following Mason’s diagnosis presented many challenges for Mason and his family. With another child, Mason’s brother, Jimmy, who was 15 at the time, Sarah and Phillip had an overflowing plate.
Along with advice from Mason’s endocrinology team, Sarah said she and Phillip found other encouraging resources, like Facebook groups, podcasts, and friends and family that helped them navigate life with a type 1 diabetic child.
“Check social media for support groups, be educated and educate yourself,” Sarah said. “Being able to ask questions to experienced families and have their input is so helpful.”
One podcast titled, “Juicebox,” was particularly useful in learning about life with type 1, Sarah said. Started by Scott Banner after his own daughter’s diagnosis, the podcast shares stories and answers questions about the disease. With so much to learn after a type 1 diagnosis, resources like these made a huge difference for Mason’s family.
taking it all in stride
From learning to count carbs to tracking his blood sugar levels, Mason quickly caught on to the things he needed to do to manage his new diagnosis. At his quarterly check-ups with Paul Breyer, MD, division chief of endocrinology, Mason takes the lead and answers all of Dr. Breyer’s questions, Sarah said.
“He just totally gets it,” she said. “I don’t know many 8 or 9-year-olds that would handle this. Thinking of myself at his age, I wouldn’t have handled it the way he did. He’s just so amazing.”
Mason’s school nurse was also instrumental in making his transition back to school a smooth one. Having worked with children with type 1 before, she was knowledgeable and understanding of Mason’s needs, Sarah said.
In February, Mason started using the Omnipod® 5 pump and Dexcom G6 to manage his blood sugar and automatically dose insulin throughout the day. Both the Omnipod 5 pump and Dexcom G6 are connected to apps, which allows Sarah and Phillip to see Mason’s levels at any time and have peace of mind knowing that he is okay.
life-changing, but not defining
Type 1 hasn’t stopped Mason from being a creative and active 5th grader. He loves swimming and football, which he is playing for the first time this fall! Mason also has his own YouTube channel, where he likes to share videos of games he plays or silly things he does with his friends, Sarah said.
Although Mason’s diagnosis was overwhelming and heartbreaking at first, after a year and a half, his family now sees their experience in a more positive light.
“We thought in the beginning we would never get through this,” Sarah said. “Life was just over, it never seemed like it would get easier. Of course, you’ll have struggles, it’s going to be hard, and you’ll have days where you break down. But it does get easier. It will be okay.”
If you have questions or concerns about your child’s diabetes care or management, visit our diabetes and endocrinology webpage or contact your endocrinologist’s office.