Youngster with Type I diabetes gets help from advanced technology

Haley Moon likes eating pizza and ice cream, spending the night with her friends, playing soccer and participating in Brownie activities - but she is not a typical 8-year-old.

Bright, upbeat and engaging, she is tall for her age and seems older and wiser.

She also has Type I Diabetes, or Insulin Dependent Diabetes Mellitus.

Type I was known as juvenile diabetes before it was discovered that adults can also contract the disease.

"Haley has learned to live with diabetes, and does very well," said her mother, Shelly Moon.

"She knows how to give herself shots and monitors her blood sugar."

Diagnosed when she was 2, Haley has not only learned to live with Type I diabetes she seems determined not to let it get the best of her.

An autoimmune disease in which the pancreas doesn't produce enough insulin, Type 1 diabetes affects more than 1 million Americans.

Insulin is necessary for the body to convert sugar to energy, said Aaron Stafford, a Kingman Regional Medical Center outpatient consultant.

Moon describes the period right before Haley was diagnosed with Type I diabetes as "very scary.

"She was thirsty all the time and urinated frequently," Moon said.

"I had no idea what was wrong, so I was giving her fruit juice when she was thirsty.

Her blood sugar was already high and I was giving her sugar (in the juice)."

Moon said her daughter became sick very quickly and lost 6 pounds in one week.

"She started throwing up on Saturday, and by Tuesday was so lethargic she wasn't eating and would sleep all day long," she said.

Most children are diagnosed with juvenile diabetes when they are 9 to 12-years-old, but Moon said she has heard of babies as young as 5 months diagnosed with the disease.

She added that Type I diabetes is not hereditary, and that a cure has not been found.

"With juvenile diabetes, the cells don't function properly and the body doesn't make insulin at all, as opposed to type II diabetes where the body makes insulin but can't process it and send it to the organs," she said.

"When there is too much insulin the blood sugar is low.

When there is not enough it is too high."

Haley must always be mindful of what she eats and must monitor her blood sugar level about eight to 10 times a day.

She tests her sugar by pricking their fingers for blood.

She must be prepared for potential hypoglycemic (low blood sugar) and hyperglycemic (high blood sugar) reactions, which can be life threatening.

"What I have for lunch is based on the insulin I had for breakfast," Haley said.

Her blood sugar can also change if she's been active, such as when she hip-hop dances around her bedroom.

Then she must adjust the monitor on her insulin pump, a device that allows her to increase or decrease the amount of insulin her body receives.

Before last September Haley was getting - and giving herself - insulin shots several times a day, but Moon and her husband, Scott, had heard about an insulin pump that more closely monitors insulin levels and helps Haley live a more "normal" lifestyle.

The pump, which is the size of a pager, contains a syringe filled with 110 units of insulin, enough for about three days.

Haley presses buttons that control the insulin, which is time-released through a long thin tube that goes from the pump into Haley's body.

The tube enters her body through a small Teflon device called a cannula, which is injected into the body.

She must reinsert the cannula into a different location - stomach, thighs, hips or buttocks - every three days to prevent the body from rejecting the device.

"I can eat a salad for lunch now without worrying," she said.

"I just have to make sure to check the monitor."

Stafford, who has a master's degree in science and is a registered dietician, said that not everyone is suited for an insulin pump.

"It takes a lot of control," he said.

"But it is easier to use and more accurate (than insulin shots)."

Meanwhile Haley continues to stay active.

She is home-schooled along with her sister, Taylor, 6.

She also has a 2-year-old sister, Calli, and enjoys the same activities as other children, including trick-or-treating on Halloween dressed as a "50s" girl in a poodle skirt.

She also likes to do filing and other office chores at Moon Chiropractic Center, the business her parents own, she said.

Because diabetes requires constant monitoring, she must be careful when eating fast food or "junk food" at a friend's house.

But Haley has that covered too - she carries a list of fast foods with their carbohydrate count, and a calculator - with her in a pouch along with her insulin monitor.

"A Big Bacon Classic has 46 carbs," she explained while looking at the list.

"I divide that by 30 and it tells me how much insulin - about 1.5 units - I need."

The family has visited Camp Vegas, a family camp for diabetics, twice, and Haley attended the camp on her own this past July.

Moon said her daughter knows she will have diabetes for the rest of her life and that insulin is not a cure, but a means to control the disease that requires constant attention.

••••••••

A Diabetic Support Group meets at 7 p.m.

the last Tuesday of every month in the conference room of the Del E.

Webb Wellness Center.

During November the group will meet on Nov.

19 because of the Thanksgiving holiday.

For more information, or to receive a newsletter about the meeting every month, contact Aaron Stafford at 692-4608.