For Patty Ramos, managing her son Armani's type 1 diabetes feels
like driving at night without any lights on.
"You just don't know," she says.
Since Armani's diagnosis in 2007, Ramos hasn't yet slept an
entire night, always worried, always checking his blood sugar level
just to be sure.
Armani, who also has autism, receives seven shots of insulin a
day. His first prick of the day comes before he's even awake, Ramos
The Oak Lawn mom says she feels guilty she didn't recognize the
signs of the disease. Armani was always thirsty, always going to
the bathroom. But she didn't think anything about it since it was a
hot summer. But when his dad, Martin, took him to the doctor for
his school physical, he ended up in the emergency room. His blood
sugar level exceeded 800, 100 times the normal range.
She's amazed how quickly the family went from never seeing the
needles to daily injections. When she brought him home after the
diagnosis she remembers scrambling to hide all the sweets in the
house and his fighting each shot. "That is the torment of the pain
you go through at first," she says.
She quickly immersed herself in learning about type 1 diabetes,
seeking out support groups, doctors, nurses. She wanted to make it
go away, she admits. But little by little, she learned it would be
her family's reality.
Her focus since has been on managing Armani's levels and on
educating the public that type 1 isn't type 2 diabetes. It's an
autoimmune disease, not something she did to cause it. The
misconceptions infuriate her. "I feel like I am in a box and no one
is hearing me."
His sisters, Bianca, 9, and Anisa, 5, are now taking part in a
sibling study on type 1 diabetes.
"I just can't find any peace. The only way I find peace is
educating and advocating," Ramos says.
HOW WE DO IT
"MY BEST tips and/or advice is to raise your child with
love, compassion and patience. Having a child with special needs is
just a label to me. To me, my child is the strongest little boy I
know and he makes me stronger each day.
"I know he will accomplish great things and do everything and
anything other little boys do. All you can do is let them try to do
things and most of the time I am amazed on how quickly and easily
he figures out how to do them."
Erin Grady, Palatine
"RYAN inspires me all the time. He's a magnet for making people
smile. We'll be in line at the grocery store and he'll blow a kiss
to someone and they'll respond by saying he's just made my day and
I say 'he's made my life'."
Jayme Rybka, Frankfort
Best advice received: "Try to find a way to overcome the
anguish and the meltdown and just be strong. Just look at the
bright side. It could be much worse. He is a normal, healthy child
just like before he was diagnosed and in the end it will work out
Worst times: "Every night and when he's away from
One thing she's learned: She had to get over the guilt
Her hopes for the future: "A more carefree life
for my child."
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