Will and Kristee Dowling thought their daughter, Lydia, was sick with a common cold, but when Lydia began losing weight and complaining of extreme thirst, the Dowlings knew something was off.
“We did our research and we realized she had the textbook symptoms of diabetes,” Kristee said. “We knew that had to be it, so we went to the pediatrician and asked for her to be tested.”
A blood test confirmed what the Dowlings suspected – Lydia had type 1 diabetes. The then 2-year-old was sent to her local hospital in Dothan for immediate treatment and put on diluted insulin. It was thought best that Lydia be transferred to Children’s of Alabama in Birmingham. “She was so young that our local hospital seemed a little unsure on the best way to handle it,” Kristee said. “I’m so thankful she was transferred because it was immediately clear that the doctors at Children’s knew precisely what to do.”
At Children’s, Lydia continued treatment while her parents were schooled about diabetes. In a classroom setting at the hospital, the Dowlings learned all about diabetes and how to manage it in children. “It was essentially Diabetes 101,” Kristee said. “It’s an excellent program because it’s very much overwhelming when your child is diagnosed and you know really nothing about it.”
The Dowlings learned what Lydia should and shouldn’t eat, when she should eat, the appropriate blood sugar level she should have and the correction factor in determining her insulin dose. They also applied what they learned by helping care for Lydia under the supervision of helpful nurses and doctors. “They involved us in her care, which was a big deal because we were initially scared that we would do something wrong,” Kristee said. “I’m so glad they took the hands-on approach because it helped us feel so much more comfortable when we went home.”
Lydia was eventually moved to an insulin pump – which Children’s again helped the Dowlings learn to manage with more education and classes – and now Lydia just visits Children’s for annual checkups. She can now even manage the insulin by herself. “Children’s has just been vital,” Kristee says. “They really equip you to handle it by providing hands-on education that lets you go into a class to learn and then to the hospital room to apply it. That’s huge. I feel like Lydia has been so successful learning to manage it because we were set up for success in the very beginning by the help we received at Children’s.”