Matt and Jessica Tyree are living life one day at a time.
The Benton couple has found that life with Type 1 Diabetes is manageable after their daughter, Abby, was diagnosed at age two. Now, the family is raising money and spreading awareness in hopes of one day finding a cure for Abby and many others like her.
Type 1 Diabetes (T1D) is a life-threatening autoimmune disease in which a person’s pancreas stops producing insulin. It can strike children and adults suddenly and requires constant carbohydrate counting, blood-glucose testing, and lifelong dependence on injected insulin.
Abby was just two weeks shy of her third birthday when the diagnosis turned their world upside down. Jessica said they noticed some odd behavior and she just wasn’t acting like herself.
“I took her to the doctor and her blood sugar was just under 400,” she said. “We’re lucky we caught it early.”
Abby was immediately sent to LSU Hospital in Shreveport and the family spent several days learning how to care for and manage Abby’s blood sugar.
“It changed everything,” Jessica said. “We initially came home and cleaned out everything in the pantry thinking she couldn’t eat any of it. We just didn’t know.”
With T1D, there are no days off and its onset is unrelated to diet and lifestyle. Initially, Abby endured multiple daily injections, numerous blood sugar checks and was put on a strict eating schedule and diet. This routine gradually became their new normal.
“It is finding a balance of not being too low or too high and we’re doing that all day long,” Jessica explained. “She eats to bring her sugars up and takes insulin to bring it back down. Every day really is a roller coaster.”
Abby started on the Omnipod insulin pump in 2014, which they say has been a blessing for her. She now has freedom from shots and can eat without a schedule, allowing Abby to be more like children her age.
“It’s not an easy thing to deal with, but that’s the way life went for us,” Jessica said.
Now, Abby changes her pod site every three days and can do it all by herself. She also does blood sugar checks without help and reports her “number” when it comes up on the screen.
Abby was also started on a Dexcom CGM with Nightscout. This is another site that she wears and changes weekly. This gives Matt and Jessica the freedom to view her numbers remotely by a website and watch Abby closely even when she is away from them. Both say it gives them a great peace of mind as it helps recognize a problem before it arises.
The Tyree family is very active in the Bossier City JDRF walk. Last year, their team raised more than $10,000.
This year, they have exceeded $12,500 in funds raised for the 2015 JDRF One Walk. JDRF Walks bring together more than 900,000 people every year who raise over $68 million for life-changing T1D research. More than 200 Walks are held across the country every year to raise money for JDRF — the only global organization with a strategic research plan to end T1D. (www.louisiana.jdrf.org/walk-to-cure-diabetes/)
The JDRF Walk to Cure Diabetes has become JDRF One Walk™. The name change to their flagship fundraising event is to communicate their focus on a single goal: creating a world without type 1 diabetes (T1D).
The Tyree family hopes there will be a cure for Abby in her lifetime. They vow to continue supporting the cause and fighting for Abby to have a normal life.
In the meantime, Abby loves to swim, play with her two-year-old brother, Colt, and dances at Vicki’s School of Dance. She even started the bridge program at Providence Classical Academy this year.
“She really can be a normal kid, but she just takes a little more special care,” Matt said.
The 2015 JDRF One Walk will be held Saturday, Sept. 12, at Party Central, 4401 Viking Drive in Bossier City. Check-in is at 8 a.m. and the walk begins at 9 a.m. Length of the walk is 1.5 miles. For more information, visit www.jdrf.org.