Five-Year-Old Girl Diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes: A Family’s Perspective

Girl Diagnosed With Type 1 Diabetes – It wasn’t until she was 15 months old that Maggie Sexton’s parents learned that she had been diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. Her pancreas is now being replaced by her mother, a service dog, and medical intervention.

When Maggie Sexton was 15 months old, her mother, Emily, began to detect symptoms of Type 1 diabetes that she had no idea were there (T1D). At this point, she’d gone through two or three diapers and was an unhappy, hungry baby. That’s also what Sexton claims about Maggie.

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She placed a urine collection bag in Maggie’s diaper to test her urine sugar levels after the family’s doctors became concerned about the recurrence of the symptoms. According to Sexton, “the findings from the urine sample were available within 20 minutes.” 

Diabetic Ketoacidosis

“The number was 740. When we learned about that, we were horrified and terrified. It’s normal to have a score of 100. There was a fair odd that the doctor had diagnosed Type 1 Diabetes, and we needed to get to the children’s hospital as soon as possible.”

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There, they discovered their daughter had been suffering from diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), which occurs when the body eats up fat for energy instead of insulin and produces acids known as ketones. When glucose levels are high, large quantities of ketones can poison the body and be lethal. 

Sexton recalls, she informed us, that she was admitted after she was safe and out of that stage. The doctor then delivered a crash lesson in T1D and how to keep their daughter alive to Sexton and her husband. 

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“We learned how to conduct the syringe shots, weigh food, give a particular quantity of insulin, and tune insulin,” she recalls. “We also learned how to adjust the insulin.”


Developing a Circle of Friends

Sexton was grateful for the help of Maggie’s elder sisters, Olivia, 14, and Ruby, 11, and the support of an extended, close-knit family during the initial fear and hospitalization. 

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Right away, her family showed a great deal of support. Our students were keen to learn about Type 1 Diabetes, including attending classes with us.

In addition, Sexton was on a quest to locate other parents and children going through the same experience, with a little girl ror boy diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes.

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Maggie’s mother felt it was critical to identify a group for her daughter where she could connect with the other parents and see other children in a similar situation to herself. In other words, she found her groups via social media and word-of-mouth.

Sexton contacted other moms on Facebook late at night and found solutions to spare her from remaining up all night caring for Maggie’s sleep and being frightened to sleep. 

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After all, “we were only relying on fingersticks,” she says, “so my alarm was set nonetheless for every two to three hours to ensure her blood sugar was all okay.” 

She was sharing this with a friend prompted her to ask for more equipment. One of them is a Dexcom continuous glucose monitor (CGM)—a tiny wearable that detects Maggie’s glucose levels every five minutes and delivers data directly to her parents’ smartphone. Before Maggie’s endocrinologist and colleagues informed us about this technology, she learned about it from them.

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For Sexton, who has a 5-year-old girl diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes, the group she has built has been a “godsend.” One of the reasons the family is committed to offering assistance to those who are just beginning the journey of managing T1D is this.

Sexton remembers how Maggie, then 2, taught a 14-year-old family friend how to operate her pump when she was just two years old. It was “Maggie put it on, and we taught our friend’s adolescent daughter how to use hers,” adds Sexton. “She had Maggie to fall back on.”

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Maggie’s proud mother also posts snippets of her daughter’s journey on social media, and she frequently receives messages from other parents and children who are going through something similar. 

With Maggie’s bravery, they’ve been inspired to be more courageous due to her example. Sexton said, “We are told that Maggie’s videos benefit individuals.” Our social media presence fosters a sense of community, promoting T1D advocacy, raising public awareness, and offering mutual support to those in need.

Developing a Relationship with Filly, the Assistance Dog

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The family now has a “pancreas partner” in the form of a 3-year-old medical assistance dog named Filly, whom Sexton describes as “amazingly supportive and helpful” since the diagnosis. 

Sexton says, “Having a diabetic alert dog is not for everyone.” “Much more effort is required. The owner must train the dog regularly to keep her sharp and on top of her game. The sacrifice is entirely worthwhile for our household, however.”

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Maggie’s adorable tiny golden retriever has been taught to detect when her sugar levels are too low or high. Filly’s ability to sense Maggie’s blood sugar levels allows her to inform the family before Dexcom does, says Sexton.

On the other hand, Filly is a sweet, affectionate pet that Maggie adores and refers to as her “baby.” Every night, they sleep together. She’s a snuggler, and she’s a member of our family. The friendship between Filly and Maggie is unbreakable. Having known one other since the beginning, they’ve become the closest allies.

Maggie’s Legacy Lives On

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The Sextons seem to have it all figured out now that they have the help and information. But Sexton admits there are still good days and terrible days in their daily routine. 

Recalling how Maggie was initially diagnosed, she remembers that “so many people” assured her that “it gets easier.” 

“The problem is that it may be so debilitating even when taken care of; her 5-year-old son, though, serves as a constant source of motivation for her. “Maggie has never known anything else,” Sexton says. “Maggie, a 5-year-old girl, is extremely mature for her age. T1 is the only known cause of this behavior in children. She’s a strong, tough child who never gives up.”