When 15-month-old Aaron developed an ear infection, his mother, Sheri, noticed a strangely sweet odor about him. A registered nurse, Sheri immediately recognized it as ketones, a sign of type I diabetes. Sheri did a dipstick test of her baby’s urine, which showed a high blood sugar level. Worried, she took her son immediately to Wolfson Children’s Hospital in Jacksonville, Fla., where her brother was a nurse in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU). They watched as the reading on the blood glucose meter climbed higher and higher. “The level was 400 — it should have been somewhere between 100 and 150,” Sheri remembers.
Sheri took Aaron immediately to the emergency department of the hospital. Aaron was admitted and placed in the care of Nemours endocrinologist Nelly Mauras, MD. “Dr. Mauras’s approach was very proactive,” remembers Sheri. “She told us straight out that he had diabetes and that everyone in our family would be taking care of him.”
For the next three years, Aaron received between four and eight injections of insulin each day. “He never cried or freaked out,” says Sheri. “My husband had to learn to give injections and monitor his blood sugar, too. Aaron never had any symptoms like excessive thirst or shakiness.”
At age three, Aaron received an insulin pump. “We had a week of education at Nemours Children’s Clinic,” says Sheri. “Both my husband and I had to wear a pump to see how it worked.” The pump must be changed every 48 to 72 hours with another “stick” each time.
Aaron has already participated in clinical trials of continuous glucose monitoring to gain better control of his diabetes. “The ultimate goal is to have an artificial pancreas — a device that measures blood glucose and then delivers the correct amount of insulin,” comments Sheri. “I’ve always loved Nemours and Dr. Mauras. She’s very positive and keeps directing you down the right path.”
Six-year-old Aaron manages diabetes as part of his daily life. He’s on the swim team, plays soccer, and seems unconcerned about the extra steps he needs to take to stay healthy. Aaron now has a special friend — Sugar Free, a dog who is trained to sniff out ketones and let others know when help is needed.