In a tumble of flying hair and girly giggles two pre-teens wrestle the family dog on the
Barwis family living room floor.
Maegan Barwis, Charlie Holborn and Otis enjoy a little post school playtime, but the pink bulk of insulin pump clipped to Maegan’s waistband hints at the extra responsibilities foisted on the 12 year old.
The Langford youth was diagnosed with juvenile, or Type 1, diabetes in March 2011.
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease where the pancreas stops producing insulin, a hormone that enables her body to get energy from food.
“If I’m low I feel a certain way. If I’m high I feel a certain way,” she said of her unbalanced levels.
The pink pump helps her keep those sugars in balance.
“For her lunch I have to write the amount of carbs and she does the math to figure it out,” explains mom Leah, of school lunches.
“(The pump) gives me the amount of insulin I need for the amount of carbs I eat,” Maegan adds. She hops to her feet, skips to the dining room and returns with a small black kit. Deftly she unzips then plucks out a test strip to pop in the top of the pump. She pulls a black pen-shaped tool and pokes a finger pushing out a pinprick of blood and swipes it across the test strip.
She bears the extra burden with finesse beyond that of most Grade 7 students.
“The responsibility she has now is a lot more than the average 12 year old,” says dad Brett. “We do put a fair bit on Maeg. Ultimately … she’s the one who has to live with it. We want her to be educated and take ownership of it.”
“Maegan’s very aware of her body. She knows she’s low before she tests and it will wake her up,” Leah adds.
That doesn’t stop dad from waking in the wee hours to check on his little girl, on the odd chance she doesn’t awake.
That fear limits the Langford youth’s sleepovers, though Charlie is among her closest friends, and the one place she likes to overnight.
“That’s the only place I feel safe because she’ll take care of me, almost mothers me,” Maegan says throwing a laugh in Charlie’s direction. Her pal just grins back.
Charlie’s part of the education component of Maegan’s new required lifestyle. She’s among those at É’cole John Stubbs who watched a video when Maegan returned to school.
“When I was first diagnosed we sent in a video for the whole class to watch,” Maegan says.
Education is a priority for the whole family.
“There’s a lack of awareness of how it affects a child and a family,” said Leah who chaired the local fundraising gala, the Promise Ball, last month. “I want to help educate.”
“When a cure is found, we will be taking advantage of it. We want to do our part to make it happen,” Brett adds.
November is Diabetes Awareness Month. Learn more about the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation online at www.jdrf.ca.