Thursday, 1 April 2010

Diabetes is ‘no big deal’

Walk chairwoman’s son says dealing with diabetes is 'no big deal'

Josh November looks at the bowl of meatballs in tomato sauce in front of him, and nonchalantly presses the buttons on the device around his waist. It looks like a cell phone, but it's actually his lifeline.

The insulin pump he wears has taken the place of painful shots. Josh can't eat a bite of his lunch without first taking a blood sample, then calculating how many carbohydrates are in the food. If he can eat the meal, he informs the pump how much insulin will prevent his blood sugar from spiking, since his pancreas no longer works.

It's a labor-intensive ritual for anyone, let alone a 10-year-old fourth-grader who couldn't even eat pizza and cake at his own birthday party. And yet, he just does it, throwing up his hands backward to express how he feels about the issue: No big deal.

"It's anxiety producing to manage diabetes," said his mother Alyse November, who's co-chairwoman of this year's Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation's annual South Palm Beach County "Walk to Cure Diabetes" on April 10 in the Mizner Park Amphitheater.

"He's an angel," she said.

Josh was diagnosed with type II juvenile diabetes on Aug. 23, 2008. He and his mother remember the date because it was such a scare. He ended up in pediatric intensive care for three days at West Boca Medical Center, after symptoms that included generally not feeling well, dry mouth, an insistent thirst, frequent urination and headaches. He's now cared for at Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital.

His mother tries to keep his life normal. He takes archery lessons and plays baseball. But he visits the nurse, who gets a note about the content of his lunchbox, at least twice a day at Banyan Creek Elementary School. There's no candy at the movies, field trips or sleepovers, and there won't be summer camp, which he doesn't mind, he says.

Alyse November immediately became active in the diabetes foundation when Josh got sick, talking to other moms and telling her son's story at events. This year she was asked to be the family co-chairwoman of the walk with Lainie Cohen, who also lives in Boca Raton and has a child with diabetes. November said yes, even though she's a busy licensed clinical social worker with a practice called Different Like Me, with a staff of six that does in-home and in-office therapy. A single mother, she also has a son, Jacob, who's 12.

Esther Swann, the foundation's special events coordinator, who runs the walk for the Greater Palm Beach County Chapter, said they expect about 3,000 supporters. Registration and the walk are an hour earlier this year at 8 and 9 a.m. respectively.

Joshua November's Team was up to 14 people last week, that included friends and family. He brought out a little shoe trophy with wings, and his thank-you plaque from last year's walk, and mentioned he raised $2,000. "This year my goal is $2,000 and $500," he said.

"This is his life until they find a cure," his mother said.

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