By Georgie Valsorda

At 38 weeks pregnant, the next time I thought I’d be rushing to hospital would be to meet the newest member of our family.

It was a Wednesday morning like any other, in January of this year, that I woke my two-year-old son Roy from his cot. In what was becoming both a curious and frustrating trend, I found he had again wet through his double nappy, pyjamas and sleeping bag.

I remember thinking about potential causes. Was the amount of pre-bed milk excessive? Did he need the next size nappy? Not in my wildest dreams did I think the cause would be so sinister.

As the day continued, I began to notice just how much water Roy was drinking. He was asking for his drink bottle to be refilled constantly, he woke from his midday nap screaming for more water. That night I watched the monitor as he woke every hour on the hour to have another sip.

Overnight, my mother’s intuition nagged at me, keeping me awake. Staring for hours at the baby monitor I decided this just wasn’t normal and vowed to call the family GP first thing in the morning.

Hearing from other families now, the greatest hurdle of misdiagnosis is often the initial GP consult. Roy was very lucky to have an amazing doctor who took his curious (to us, anyway) symptoms very seriously. It was a further urine specimen that showed high markers for glucose, ketones and dehydration that would change our lives forever.

And that was when we were rushed to hospital.

One of the first symptoms Georgie noticed was how much Roy was drinking.

The next 24hrs were a whirlwind of emotions that, looking back now, I can still hardly discern from one another. Fear, heartbreak, grief, all were hard to process under the barrage of diagnosis information.

With no family history of Type 1 Diabetes, my husband and I were oblivious to its life-threatening health implications. We were well and truly in the deep-end.

Type 1 Diabetes is a chronic autoimmune disease in which a person’s pancreas produces little to no insulin. Insulin is a hormone that regulates the metabolism of carbohydrates, fats and protein by promoting the absorption of glucose throughout the body.

Without insulin, cells are unable to use glucose as fuel for the body. Type 1 Diabetes is not caused by poor diet or lifestyle choices, there is currently no cure or prevention and it can come on at any age.

An insipid, volatile and unpredictable disease, it mandates both insulin dependency and regulation 24 hours a day for life.

Roy has Type 1 Diabetes, a chronic autoimmune disease in which a person’s pancreas produces little to no insulin.

An enduring memory I have of the hospital stay was how calm and brave Roy was. He was jabbed with more needles than I have had in my entire lifetime (a regime of five a day would continue until he received an automated insulin pump).

Whilst the hospital staff were amazing on diagnosis and told us we could stay as long as we needed, compounding factors; myself being 38 weeks pregnant, a very energetic two-year-old bouncing off the walls and the confidence of my mathematically minded health care trained husband, led to us deciding to head home the very next day.

We spent the next 10 days studying for what is now the ever-present exam of our lives. Type 1 Diabetes is tiring, relentless, unforgiving and ever changing. No two days are the same and just when you think you’ve got the hang of it, one of nearly 100 recognised biological, natural, or environmental factors will all of a sudden disrupt his blood glucose levels for days.

In hospital, Roy received countless needles while being diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes, but he remained calm and brave.

For eight and a half months, I had been excitedly awaiting the birth of my second son, but now all of a sudden, every day he stayed inside me was a blessing. This feeling at the time; the loss of his priority, even if only perceived, still to this day makes me so sad.

To say this year has been tough is an understatement, but I take solace in the strength of my hero Roy. He is a star. At two years of age, he now accepts that his day is full of finger pricks, needle changes, carb counting of every single gram of food that goes in his mouth, Mum and Dad constantly asking “what’s his number” and to top it off, the highs and lows where he must be feeling dizzy, nauseous, irritated and tired.

Georgie was due with her second child when she discovered her two-year-old had Type 1 Diabetes.

When the Nike Melbourne Marathon Festival was announced, I thought it was the perfect opportunity to challenge myself and raise much needed funds and awareness for the Type 1 Foundation, so I signed up for the Nike Half Marathon. I am not an avid runner but if Roy can put up with the challenges of Type 1 every day, the least I can do is put my running shoes on and hit the pavement.

The Type 1 Foundation was created by a Type 1 Diabetes mother in response to a gap in understanding and lack of awareness around the condition. The primary aim of the Foundation is to support families living with Type 1 Diabetes, create awareness of the disease and the early warning signs (i.e., thirst, tiredness, weight loss, increased urination, etc.) and to provide connection through family events, group chats and important information.

On Sunday 12 December, I hope to make my family and friends proud as I set off to run 21.1km. Even if my body is aching, there is nothing more motivating than my hero Roy.

The Nike Melbourne Marathon Festival will run Saturday 11 December until Sunday 12 December 2021.

November is Diabetes Awareness Month.

To support Georgie and her mission, click here.