Talking Type 1: Karen Foos

Diabetes is a disease that affects the whole family, especially when a child is diagnosed. Parents of children diagnosed with diabetes face overwhelming, and sometimes frightening, questions such as: How can I strike the balance between caring and hovering? Will she ever be able to eat sweets again? How will I ever be able to let him go out on his own?

All week long, we will present stories from parents of children with diabetes, illustrating the emotions, challenges and successes each family faced upon diagnosis.

Name: Karen Foos, mother of Maya, age 13, diagnosed at age 7
From: Auburn, N.Y.

My shy, insecure daughter was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2008 at age 7. She is now 13 and doing okay with it. She has been on the pump since 2009.

She was diagnosed the day after her sister's birthday, during which she had a large chocolate brownie with frosting to celebrate. We knew something wasn't right, but we thought it was a virus that she couldn't get rid of. She had acidic breath (which we now know is a sign of diabetic ketoacidosis) and she was drinking a lot and having accidents at night, but we put off going to the doctor because she had no fever.

I knew excessive thirst was a sign of diabetes due to my dad having type 2 and my own research. Once we realized how much weight Maya had lost, we took her to the doctor. We were planning to wait until her sister's appointment the next week, but I am so glad we didn't.

Maya is still shy and insecure about many things, but I think managing her diabetes has made her more confident in knowing her body and talking to me about changes she feels. She tries to hide it when she is testing to not draw attention to herself. Most times I have to ask if she checked her numbers because she is so discreet and quick about it. Still, diabetes doesn't define her.

My fear with my daughter's diabetes is that she runs very high. I worry about the long-term effects of such a high A1C all the time. I know she can live a long, healthy life if we can get this under control, but I don't know how to do that.

Every day I wish I had diabetes instead of Maya. I continue to hope for a cure. Until then, I will advocate for her, participate in the Tour de Cure® and give her the chance to go to American Diabetes Association Camp Aspire (in Rush, N.Y.).

Thanks for offering us a chance to tell Maya's story.

To read more stories like this, please visit our blog: Diabetes Stops Here.