January 12, 2015, is a day Rachel Gilbert will never forget. Stephanie, her then 6-year-old daughter, was taken to the pediatrician to check recent changes in her behavior. She was lethargic, had wet the bed and was complaining that "someone had stolen her brain."
The problem was more serious than Gilbert thought. The pediatrician determined Stephanie's blood sugar was above 400. Stephanie was rushed to Salah Foundation Children's Hospital at Broward Health Coral Springs, where she was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.
"We were at the hospital for a week," Gilbert said. "We were given an insulin plan and detailed instructions, but it was scary going home. Our lives were altered completely."
The family had two different types of insulin to administer and were finger pricking every two to three hours to check Stephanie's glucose levels. There was revised meal planning and snack packing, carb counting, constant communication with the school nurse - it was overwhelming.
"It made me feel like I couldn't trust anyone to take care of her," said Gilbert. "But I cannot be around all the time. Thankfully, technology is making it easier."
Advances in diabetes care are enabling parents to remotely track their children's glucose levels. A glucose monitor attached to Stephanie's arm allows her mother and physicians to constantly track Stephanie's levels through a phone app. Gilbert can then make adjustments to an insulin pump on Stephanie's leg via a wireless device. This can be done anywhere and while Stephanie is doing anything, such as attending school or playing at the park.
Seeing Stephanie today with other kids, it's hard to tell that she suffers from a chronic disease. For Stephanie, having Type 1 diabetes is "kind of neat." She gets to answer her friends' questions and has even been invited to speak to classmates about her condition.
"Stephanie is amazing. She never complains," said Gilbert. "She's really smart about what goes on and always complies with a smile."