CORNWALL, Ontario – The perception of many who live without diabetes is that it’s a treatable disease, without peril.
But a Cornwall family this week – who have lobbied for more funding and research into the disease that sees more than 20 people an hour diagnosed – nearly lost one of their own in a harrowing example of what diabetes can do, even when you follow all the rules.
Jeff and Cherie Lalonde’s daughter Ashley slipped into an unresponsive diabetic state Monday night and very nearly died.
Without the help of her quick-thinking brother Evan who force-fed her a pair of juice boxes, and the work of doctors and nurses it’s likely the 17-year-old would have become another statistic in a disease that kills all too often.
“I’m going to try and get through this without crying,” Jeff Lalonde said in an interview to recount the incident that took place Monday night. “At one point she looked at me (in the hospital) and said ‘Am I dying?'”
As a type 1 diabetic, like her brother, Ashley is constantly hooked up to an insulin pump that feeds her body the fluid necessary to help break down sugars in her blood.
She and her brother also get up in the middle of the night regularly to eat a scoop of peanut butter that helps stabilize sugar levels.
On this night Evan found Ashley in her bed at about 1 a.m., shaking and unresponsive.
“He fed her the juice boxes and called 911,” said Lalonde. “And then he called us.”
Ashley and Evan were staying with friends of the family at the time. The Lalondes raced to the house to find paramedics loading Ashley into a waiting ambulance.
She was whisked to the Cornwall hospital where doctors began a fight to stabilize her blood-sugar levels. After seeing her sugar levels crash, doctors were now combatting too much sugar in her blood.
“It took an hour or two for her to become lucid,” said Lalonde.
Doctors said as a teenager, hormone levels and an increased draw on the sugar in Ashley’s blood may have led to the crash. The experts are otherwise confounded as to why she nearly died.
“She was doing everything right,” said Lalonde, adding his daughter had eaten properly and was taking the medications necessary to keep diabetes in check. “Her body just absorbed more than it normally would and caused her to crash.”
Fortunately she seems to have bounced back, and is even playing soccer as recently as this week.
The Lalondes know these kinds of stories all too well.
As the organizers of a Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation annual fundraiser in Cornwall, and the parents of a pair of diabetic children, Jeff and Cherie have become overnight experts in the disease.
The Third Annual Crafting for a Cure event, to raise money and awareness concerning juvenile diabetes, is taking place Nov. 6 from 7-11 p.m. at the Agora Catholic Centre in Cornwall on McConnell Avenue.
Tickets ($50) will be going on sale at the end of the month at Scotiabank in Cornwall and O’Neill’s Bar in Long Sault.
Ten Ontario craft breweries will be attending the event, which will feature live music by Jesse Ferguson, a small meal, a $30 taxable receipt from JDRF a live and silent auction as well as a 50/50 draw.
Crafting a Cure, in its first two years, has raised more than $25,000 for Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.
More information can be found on the event here.