Local families struggle with diabetes

FRED PETRUCELLI
Log Cabin Staff Writer
Published Friday, September 21, 2001

Freedom for kids hindered by diabetes is an elusive thing where schedules, special diets and, especially, injections intrude on their lifestyles.

Their greatest wish is live life the way they choose and not the way their treatment dictates.

And that is the reason thousands of people, those connected with the disease and others who have joined a crusade to find cures, will take to the streets Saturday for a walk sponsored by the Arkansas Chapter of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

And once again, Conway families who have been inundated by the demands of diabetes will be making their presence known and demonstrating support for research.

The walk, which is expected to attract hundreds of walkers, will begin at the Downtown Rivermarket District a 9 a.m.The goal is to raise $450,000 to donate to diabetes research to help find cures for the illness and all its complications.

The event is tailored for the entire family, with entertainment and food adding to a festive and hopeful occasion.

Conway families will be a part of the event, mingling with others similarly affected, kindred spirits praying that gatherings of the kind will someday lead to a time when diabetes is eradicated.

The Newton family and the Main family, both of Conway, are scheduled to take part in the walk. Ian Newton and Tyler Main are youngsters afflicted by diabetes.

These families are at the front line in the battle to find a cure, and their struggle is unabated.

For Ian Newton, who has just begun the first grade at Ida Burns Elementary School, enduring finger pricks is a way of life, even though he has been equipped with an insulin pump that eases his ailment to a great extent.

"Ian has had great success with the insulin pump and it has made life easier, but it still is not a cure for diabetes," his mother, Mrs. MissE Newton says.

Pump therapy has the capacity to administer daily insulin dosage almost automatically and exactly in the required amounts.

Yet Mrs. Newton has found that it is not foolproof.

"We have to change Ian's infusion site every three days. He still sticks his finger a minimum of five times a day to check his blood sugar level. His teachers and the Ida Burns School nurse, Cilynthia Canada, are all super and there to help Ian."

Mrs. Newton tells of some "interesting" things that happen to make the pump malfunction -- sand from the sandbox, for example.

"We also had a funny experience when Ian's pet bunny, Snowball, chewed through his pump tubing. We are praying for the day when we no longer have to worry about the pump, or finger sticks."

The day may come with the advances being made by the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, the world's leading nonprofit, nongovernmental funder of diabetic research.

The difficulty in dealing with diabetes is that it is a chronic, genetically determined, debilitating disease that affects every organ system. Some 16 million Americans have it; 5.4 million are undiagnosed.

For 7-year-old Tyler Mains, who was diagnosed with diabetes when he was a little older than three, it is a daily regimen of finger sticks six times a day, and often more if he's not feeling well.

Because the pump is not in his arsenal of medications -- his parents hope that their insurance provider will come to their aid soon and allow the pump -- Tyler per force relies on the school nurse at Ida Burns School, the same Mrs. Canada who cares for Ian Newton, to get him through the day.



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