Living with diabetes
Disease a constant part of boy’s life
By Jane Myhra
Spencer Faulkes, 14, of New London, spoke about living with diabetes at the Lioness meeting held during the Lion’s District 27-B2 Convention held recently in Green Bay.
Diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at the age of 7, Spencer shared how the disease has affected his life for the past six years.
“I had no idea how much it would change my life,” he said.
Although he wears an insulin pump to help control his blood sugars, Spencer needs to constantly check his levels.
Before he received an insulin pump three years ago, he needed at least 7 to 10 insulin shots per day. Now he needs only about 15 injections per week.
The pump is attached to his body and is moved to a different spot every two days. It supplies a steady flow of insulin.
“It is a wonderful tool to help me manage my diabetes,” Spencer said. “But it is only a tool and by no means a cure.”
He will always have the disease.
“I can try to manage it, but I will never control it,” he said.
During the night, Spencer’s blood sugar levels are monitored by his parents, David and Thomasina Faulkes.
“He is at the highest risk of seizing or dying while asleep,” said his mother.
When he arrives at school, he reports to the school nurse within the first hour. If his blood sugar tests too high, he remains in the nurse’s office and re-tests every 15 minutes. He stays with the nurse until the levels return to a safe range — between 80 and 120.
Spencer also reports to the school nurse before and after gym class and at lunch time.
“Some days I end up seeing the school nurse more than I see my teachers,” he said.
Through all this, he maintains straight-As and participates in sports.
While he plays football, basketball and baseball, his parents sit on the sidelines with his emergency diabetes pack. Everyone knows that keeping him hydrated is the most important thing.
“Having diabetes means I need more teammates than those with the same jersey,” Spencer said.
A diabetic’s blood levels are affected by stress, weather, growth spurts, hot water and several other factors. What he eats is the easiest thing to control with insulin.
“The insulin I take is not a cure — it’s my lifeline,” he said.
High sugar levels can cause blindness, kidney problems and loss of limbs.
“It’s an entire family disease,” said Thomasina. “It affects everyone in the household; it affects everything.”
“Diabetes is just part of our lives,” Spencer said. “Finding a cure is very important to me.”
Spencer is always willing to be an ambassador for finding a cure for diabetes.
“I will not rest until I find a cure,” he said. “My goal is to be able to help all of the wonderful people I have met through this horrible disease.”