Aug 28, 2023
navigating life with type 1 diabetes
patient name: Riley Lucas
condition: type 1 diabetes
seen in: endocrinology
Like most kids her age, at 9-years-old, Riley Lucas was super active and could often be found at the swimming pool or playing softball.
But in early 2020, Riley inexplicably began losing weight and drinking lots of water. She was also completely exhausted after swim practice, which was unusual. She had recently been through a growth spurt, so her mom and dad, Reagan and Mark, initially chalked the symptoms up to her growth. But after more symptoms piled on, like not sleeping and becoming very emotional, her parents decided to call her primary care provider.
Later that afternoon, after sharing Riley’s symptoms with the physician, they began performing bloodwork. They immediately stopped after taking her glucose or blood sugar. The glucometer, which is used to measure blood glucose, revealed that Riley’s blood sugar was more than 700 mg/dL. A typical child’s blood sugar can range from 70-140 mg/dL.
“They pretty much told us right then and there, your daughter has type 1 diabetes,” said Reagan. “In the office, they told us, immediately go to the Dayton Children’s emergency department and they would have a space waiting for us.”
Once they arrived at Dayton Children’s, Riley was taken back to triage to finish her bloodwork and then admitted to the specialty care floor to begin treatment.
Type 1 diabetes can develop quickly, taking patients and parents by surprise. It occurs when the body’s immune system destroys cells in the pancreas that produce the hormone called insulin. There is no cure for this disease. But children with type 1 diabetes can live full and active lives with the help of intensive insulin therapy, which involves administering shots or using an insulin pump to deliver insulin several times a day.
“Riley had been showing signs of early onset diabetes, but we didn’t know what we were looking at,” said Reagan. “Another few days and this could have been catastrophic.”
While inpatient, Riley and her family met with members of Dayton Children’s endocrinology team, dieticians and behavioral health providers to walk them through her life-changing diagnosis.
Four days later, Riley was discharged to begin her new life living with type 1 diabetes. Moving forward, Riley would need to closely monitor her blood glucose and begin taking insulin shots.
“It was so overwhelming at the beginning,” said Reagan. “I thought with this diagnosis, it was going to be the end—the end of swim, the end of softball, the end of doing things she loves. But it’s really just a new beginning.”
Today, Riley wears a continuous glucose monitor that her mom is able to follow, as well as an insulin pump. She sees Paul Breyer, MD, chief of endocrinology at Dayton Children's, every three months for bloodwork and to monitor her glucose levels. And, she’s still an active swimmer and softball player and doesn’t let type 1 diabetes stop her from doing the things she wants to do.
“It’s just part of our life now,” said Reagan. “It’s part of who she is, but not all of who she is. She’s making great choices and doing the things she has to do in order to do the things she wants to do.”