Mom, Son Ride to Fight Diabetes

Colin Kent was just 7 years old when his second-grade teacher noticed he was going to the bathroom much too often. His parents noticed he was drinking water all the time. And after a vacation with his grandmother, he actually lost weight.

His mother, Michelle Corbett-Kent, a nurse and clinical informatics specialist at NorthBay Medical Center, knew something was wrong. “As a labor and delivery nurse, I use urine dipsticks all the time and know what they test for. I was hoping that he had a bladder infection… but when I used the dipstick in his urine, there was a lot of glucose.”

For Colin, diabetes is a challenge he must master and he’s no longer afraid.

She tried to rationalize that it was a lollipop he’d eaten. So she performed another dipstick test the next day. Same results, and at a visit to the NorthBay Center for Primary Care, the glucose meter showed HIGH—
“a nurse’s and now a mother’s—nightmare,” says Michelle. Colin’s diagnosis—Type 1 Diabetes. He was taken to UC Davis Medical Center’s Emergency Department.

“The good news was that we paid attention quickly and we caught it soon so that we avoided a stay in the ICU,” says Michelle. “However, that night was the worst night of my life.” Colin had to have an IV (“screams,” remembers Michelle), lab work (“crying”), and insulin.

By the next blood sugar poke, he was fighting the medical team. “It took three staff members and me sitting on him to get a finger poke,” recalls Michelle.

The family had to learn how to count carbohydrates and control Colin’s diet. By March, he decided he was ready to start giving himself injections. By May, he was ready for an insulin pump. “The pump requires one puncture site for insulin every two to three days instead of four to five times a day. But it also required lots more learning,” says Michelle, “and LOTS more blood sugar testing.”

Colin had his blood sugar tested—his finger poked—more than 900 times in less than three months. Colin, now 8, knows the symptoms of having low blood sugar and knows to eat fruit snacks, drink milk or eat candy to bring it up. He also knows when his blood sugar is high, which results in frequent urination and excessive thirst.

Michelle and Colin decided they wanted to ride a tandem bicycle in the Tour de Cure with Team NorthBay on May 1 in Yountville, a bike race to raise awareness of diabetes and help find a cure. Colin wore the tour’s “Red Rider” jersey, so everyone would know that he is diabetic.

His goal was to be a “champion”—to raise more than $1,000, and he did just that, bringing in $1,340 by the day of the ride. He was joined on Team NorthBay by 89 other riders supporting his cause. The team as a whole raised more than $29,000 for the American Diabetes Association.

“Participating in this ride was a no-brainer for me,” says Team NorthBay Captain Patrick Garner, R.N. “Solano County has the highest rate of diabetes in the nine Bay Area counties, at 9.5 percent. NorthBay is a healthcare organization and we want to encourage good health in our community. This is just one way to raise awareness.”

For Colin, diabetes is a challenge he must master, and he’s no longer afraid of the disease. He’s learned how to input information into his insulin pump and how to test his blood and now he’s learning how to count carbohydrates.

“It’s not so scary,” he says with a shrug.

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