Type 1 diabetes: Denver conference aims to educate about lifelong condition

DENVER -- Anytime your child gets sick, you worry. Right now, with flu season at its worst in a decade and thousands of Coloradans hospitalized, when your child shows symptoms you think flu. 

What happens when it is something else?

That was the case for the Cofrades family and their 9-year-old daughter Izzy, a budding figure skater. 

Four nights a week you'll find her on the ice at the Promenade Ice Arena in Westminster. She's a competitive skater always practicing new spins and new programs.

"Busy Izzy" is what her family calls her, so when she came down with a bug, it really slowed her down. She showed signs of improvement but Kristen Cofrades realized Izzy just wasn't bouncing back to her usual self. Mom said Izzy was sleeping a lot and even falling asleep in class. 

"She would go to sleep at four in the afternoon and she would sleep until the next day," Kristen Cofrades said.

Mom knows best, and in this case, she knew her daughter, who typically skated hard and played hard, just wasn't right.

"She kept looking at me from the ice with these terribly sad eyes and I said, I think we need to get you checked out, I think you are sick. We went to urgent care and they said you need to go to Children's (Hospital) immediately."

That began the Cofrades family's lifelong walk with diabetes. They were immediately sent to the Barbara Davis Center on the CU Anschutz Medical Campus, a center that specializes in diabetes research and care. 

It turns out, Izzy has Type 1 diabetes. Izzy said she remembers thinking something wasn't right.  

"I usually don't like to drink water, or at all, and I started to drink a lot of water," Izzy said. "And I'd get tired just walking up stairs."

Izzy's symptoms were typical. She had increased thirst, weight loss, fatigue and blurred vision.  

According to the Barbara Davis Center, a child is diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes approximately every 20 minutes in this country.

Kristen, sitting side-by-side with her husband Daniel, looked at him and said, "We look back and go, holy moly, she probably had high blood sugars and we had no clue."

That is commonly overlooked because according to the Barbara Davis Center, Type 1 diabetes is often misdiagnosed at first as flu.  And if not treated, it can be deadly.

Izzy and her parents are getting used to their new reality. When asked about taking shots of insulin Izzy replied, "Uh no, that was the worst part, taking shots, yeah, worst part ever."

It's been three years now and they have a routine of going for care at the Barbara Davis Center every three months for a check-up with an endocrinologist or nurse practitioner. And Izzy wears an insulin pump to keep her body in check.

Life with diabetes has become much more manageable for this 9-year-old now that Izzy and her family have answers. As Izzy tells it, "It's scary in the beginning but it gets better."

The Barbara Davis Center and the Children's Diabetes Foundation are hosting a diabetes conference on Saturday, March 3rd for anyone who has questions about how to handle diabetes physically and emotionally.

For more information, head over to epicconferences.org.

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