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Health Team

Juvenile diabetes changes life of Creedmoor girl

Posted November 24, 2010 2:14 p.m. EST
Updated November 24, 2010 7:31 p.m. EST

— Type 1, or juvenile, diabetes has changed the life of a 10-year-old Creedmoor girl.

Megan Kiem was diagnosed with the disease a year ago. Her mother, Marcy, first noticed changes in her drinking behavior, then weight loss.

"She started drinking a lot. I started thinking, 'Well, it's extra hot outside. Maybe she's extra thirsty,'" Marcy Kiem said. "She was losing weight, and she lost over 20 pounds before I finally took her in."

The diagnosis completely changed Megan's daily routine.

"I was, like, really upset about it," she said.

However, the proper treatment has helped Megan keep up with her activities.

"She still does all her activities. She's very involved in singing and theater," Marcy Kiem said.

The fact that Megan's dad, Joe, is also a Type 1 diabetic had both positive and negative effects. He could help her understand the disease, but she also knew that her dad suffered many complications, including kidney disease and heart problems.

"It was really hard to get her to understand at first that having diabetes doesn't mean that she's going to have these complications," Marcy Kiem said.

Many medical advances have been made since Joe Kiem was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.

"There was not a lot of knowledge, and when I was growing up, sugar was bad. There was no checking your blood," Joe Kiem said.

Instead of giving herself insulin shots, Megan uses an insulin pump. She said it hasn't made a difference in how her friends treat her.

"I've gotten closer to my friends, because they like help me count my carbs," Megan said.

Her dad has a pump that also serves as a continuous glucose monitor, which might be an option for Megan in the future.

"My control has been a lot better. My hemoglobin A1C is down to, I think, 6.7. That's the lowest it's ever been in my life," Joe Kiem said.

An optimistic attitude about the disease led Megan and her parents to participate in the recent Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation Walk. The family hopes that their efforts will help improve management of the disease or even, one day, lead to a cure.

"Her big thing has really been to try and make a difference and turn this into a positive," Marcy Kiem said.