This story was selected as a winner during our 2017 summer story contest and was submitted by Bailey Bennett, Nurse Supervisor at KVC Hospitals Kansas City, a children’s psychiatric treatment center.
Mallory was 4-years-old when she was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, a chronic condition in which the pancreas does not make insulin. Insulin helps sugars (glucose) get into cells to give them energy. Without proper nutrition, exercise and medication management, the body’s blood sugar can be too high or too low and cause serious complications.
Mallory struggled to manage her diabetes and experienced diabetic ketoacidosis twice in her life. Without insulin, sugar stays in the blood since it cannot get into the cells. This produces high levels of blood acids called ketones and can be potentially life-threatening when insulin shots are not administered. When Mallory was 10-years-old, she tried to end her life by trying to overdose on carbs. This suicidal ideation is what brought her to KVC Hospitals Kansas City.
Strengthening both Mallory’s physical and mental health were important factors in helping improve her quality of life. She also needed a support system of people that knew about proper diabetes management. I worked with her to discuss the effects of diabetes, proper nutrition and what being healthy meant. I made her a book to keep track of her blood sugars and record information so that her family could learn more about her condition. She was so excited when I showed it to her that she decorated it and made it her own.
Every time I see Mallory now, she calls my name, hugs me and plays with my hair. She’s a really good kid. I don’t think anyone ever explained to her what living with diabetes means and how to be healthy. It can be hard for children to understand but it’s incredible how quickly they can learn. Mallory is amazing and I’m glad I was able to help teach her how to properly manage her diabetes, feel empowered and maintain a healthy life. Her family also learned so much and is able to help Mallory continue to succeed when she returns home.
*Name has been changed and a stock photo has been used to protect Mallory’s identity.
If you know a child or young adult struggling with depression, self-harm, or other behavioral health challenges, contact our psychiatric hospitals at (913) 890-7468, or contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).