A sixth grader at Pleasanton Junior High, Alex Guerra, 11, was diagnosed with T1D on April 18, 2017, after his mother, Elizabeth, noticed he was always very thirsty, urinating a lot and lost 16 pounds in two months.
As a nurse who works with diabetics at US Renal Care Dialysis in Pleasanton, Elizabeth noticed her son’s actions were concerning, so she decided to check Alex’s blood sugar. “It was Easter Weekend, and I thought to myself, ‘This is kind of weird.’ It was unusual for a child, so I started to check his levels and they were in the 300s and 400s,” she said.
That Monday, Elizabeth called their primary care physician who told her to bring Alex in. After a checkup revealed ketones in Alex’s urine, they were sent to the Children’s Hospital in San Antonio where they were told the news.
“I prayed and hoped that it was Type 2, when we got to the ER, because most kids, you hear about them going into diabetic comas. I thank God Alex’s sugars didn’t get any higher than 500 before we took him in, because I’ve heard of kids being in the 1300s,” said Elizabeth. “And he was running around like nothing. But when she told me it was Type 1 … it broke my heart. It’s lifelong, and I knew he was going to have to deal with it for the rest of his life, unless there’s a cure found at some point.”
Alex was immediately put on insulin and spent five days in the hospital where he learned how to check his sugars and give himself injections at just 7 years old. Today, he is on a pump that administers insulin for him, but if needed, he does his own injections.
Elizabeth explained that T1D during the time of COVID-19 last year was scary due to T1D warriors being more susceptible to illnesses. However, Alex managed to stay clear of contracting the virus, while his entire household including his mom, his dad Alejandro and his sister Autumn were all diagnosed around Christmas time.
Her biggest concern as a parent of a T1D warrior is having her child being seen as different. Alex, who plays football, basketball and baseball despite his T1D, has accepted his diagnosis and the responsibilities that come with it.
“I just don’t want anybody to see him as different, especially when he has to give himself an injection. It’s something he has to do to stay alive,” she said. “So, don’t feel sorry for my son. He can do whatever he wants in life, still.”
Elizabeth says the closeness of her family is what gets them through the rough days.
“We do have those days and I want to sit there and cry with him, but I have to stay strong for him, so that he can be strong, too,” said Elizabeth, who says her daughter Autumn, a senior at PHS, is a huge advocate for T1D awareness. “It’s the fact that we know it has to be done so he can achieve whatever he wants to achieve, even as a T1D.”
Elizabeth is also grateful for the local T1D community for the huge support they’ve offered since Alex was first diagnosed.
“Jenny Wiggins, I didn’t know her at the time, but she came up to me and she hugged me saying, ‘I know you need this hug.’ This was just two weeks after Alex’s diagnosis, so he got to meet Max and then he found out about Hunter [Norment], too,” Elizabeth said. She added that Hunter is Alex’s T1D idol since he was a high school football player at the time. “It means the world to us to have them, because anytime any of us need anything, we are all there for each other. And that’s how we go on with our lives: together.”