Living With Diabetes



Type 1 Diabetes warriors and their families unite to raise awareness and offer each other support. Pictured, from left are: Blaine, Dwayne, Kristine and Cheston Markgraf; Bella, Jennifer, Billy and James George; Chris Boyer; Devin and Aleshia McDaris, Jeff and Stevie Jayde Beddo; Jenny and Max Wiggins and Alejandro, Alex and Elizabeth Guerra. REBECCA PESQUEDA | PLEASANTON EXPRESS

Type 1 Diabetes warriors and their families unite to raise awareness and offer each other support. Pictured, from left are: Blaine, Dwayne, Kristine and Cheston Markgraf; Bella, Jennifer, Billy and James George; Chris Boyer; Devin and Aleshia McDaris, Jeff and Stevie Jayde Beddo; Jenny and Max Wiggins and Alejandro, Alex and Elizabeth Guerra. REBECCA PESQUEDA | PLEASANTON EXPRESS

Type 1 Diabetes warriors and their families and friends gathered together the first week of November at George Farms in Poteet. It was part of raising diabetes awareness in November.

On Friday, Nov. 5, they met for a photo shoot in the countryside, sharing emotional stories about their challenges and victories. The participants included Chris Boyer of Lytle and the families of Billy George of Poteet, Stevie Jayde Beddo of Pleasanton, Max Wiggins of Pleasanton, Alex Guerra of Pleasanton and Blaine Markgraf of San Antonio. Fellow warrior Hunter Norment of Pleasanton was unable to attend, as he is attending college.

Here are their stories:

George family raises awareness

Although he is only 3 years old, the word “diabetes” is one that Billy George recognizes.

While another interview with a Type 1 diabetic in his 30s was taking place, Billy overheard, paused then asked, “You got diabetes?”

The son of Jennifer and James George, Billy was diagnosed on March 6, 2020. Funds raised at the first ever Wild Bill’s Pumpkin Fun Run held at this time last year went towards the cost of a diabetic alert dog for Billy.

Billy George and his mother, Jennifer George REBECCA PESQUEDA | PLEASANTON EXPRESS

Billy George and his mother, Jennifer George REBECCA PESQUEDA | PLEASANTON EXPRESS

A proper diagnosis for Billy took much persistence from his mother. She was determined to find out the reason for his many troubling symptoms, as Billy had been sick since November of 2019.

After noticing a fruity smell coming from Billy’s mouth, she decided to have him tested for diabetes the next morning when the doctor’s office opened. Billy had more than one monitor reading of “high” and he was rushed to the hospital and admitted. His blood work showed a reading of 890.

At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and strawberry season at the family farm, the hospital trips continued. The family focused their attention on all that mattered—Billy.

The last year for the George family has been unpredictable and filled with highs and lows.

“It’s not getting easier. It’s an everyday battle when you’re dealing with Type 1 especially with a baby because you can’t control if he’s going to eat,” said Jennifer.

 

 

“Last week was the first time that he had a seizure, so he was in the hospital. The first one wasn’t that bad, but the second one lasted for a long time,” said Jennifer. “I don’t know exactly how long, but he did stop breathing and he turned blue. They called a Code Blue in the hospital … They wouldn’t let me in there.”

She said the picture of it all is what she sees now when she goes to sleep.

“It’s just kind of hard to see my son laying there lifeless,” she said.

He was in the hospital for two days, which Jennifer said was due to him having a cold. It took a toll on his body, since Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease in which the pancreas does not produce insulin. Billy’s sugar levels would not go down and then he spiked a fever. From Poteet to University Hospital in San Antonio, his temperature increased from 99 degrees to 104.7.

 

 

While in the hospital, Billy was hooked to two IVs. One was an insulin drip and the other was a fluid bag, explained Jennifer.

Among the family’s blessings, the first week of November, Billy’s diabetic alert dog Tex arrived. KC Owens and Kristi Urban of Tattle Tail Scent Dogs based in Utah flew to Texas to make the special delivery. Jennifer posted a video of the heartwarming meeting on Facebook.

“He’s been alerting us,” said Jennifer. “He actually woke me up a couple of times and that is how I knew Billy was getting sick. Tex wouldn’t leave my side at all, so that’s when I checked him. He’s been amazing.”

Throughout the last year, the George family has had Zoom meetings with others who have diabetic alert dogs. They also went through some training sessions.

When it comes to diabetes, Jennifer wants parents to watch out for the signs their child could be sick.

“If they are always in the hospital or losing weight … If they are bed-wetting, just sleepy all the time, just ask for a finger prick,” said Jennifer.

If the doctor’s office tells you “no” for whatever reason (your child is too young, etc.), Jennifer advises parents to go to the store, buy a meter and finger-prick them yourself.

“It just takes one second, one blood drop. Just look for the signs because it’s not uncommon,” she said.

She hopes that more people take it seriously.

“It could save their life.”

There are many support groups available for those who need it. Locally, there are many Type 1 diabetics willing to help answer questions or offer support.

“We’re here to help as much as we can, to spread awareness,” said Jennifer. “We couldn’t ask for a better support system than our community, especially because Billy started school.”

Twice weekly he attends Moms Day Out with Jodie Jupe and Amanda Pawelek. They have been amazing and are willing to learn about diabetes. Others didn’t want to take in Billy and considered him a liability.

Jennifer emphasized they still want Billy to be a kid and not make his diabetes diagnosis define who he is as a person.

She said, “We still want him to be a child. He deserves that.”

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