An Interview with My Friend, Demarco.
My friend Demarco from Australia has returned for another visit at Six Until Me, and this time he brought his new hypo-dog friend Chino! Fresh from Australia's Paws for Diabetics, Chino and Demarco are taking care of each other and having some fun. Demarco and his mom, Kate, spent some time with me and gave me a glimpse into their diabetes lives.
Kerri: Can you tell me about when you were diagnosed with diabetes?
Demarco: I was only 23 months when I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. I don't remember much about it, but some of the bad things I will never forget. I had these terrible pains in my legs and tummy, and because I couldn't tell Mum, she couldn't help me. I just screamed at her, the only times I stopped screaming was for water. I also remember getting my nappy changed a lot. I remember Mum taking me to a new doctor, and he did a prick on my toe. A little after that, my Mum screamed, and cried and she couldn't even walk to the car. The doctor had to take her to the car and my Dad had to drive. She was shaking a lot too. The strange thing was that I stopped crying and screaming for the first time in days because I finally knew that SHE knew that there was something seriously wrong with me, and she was going to get me help. She hugged me tight, and I clutched on to her long red hair, because it made me feel safe. I remember 4 men with stethoscopes trying to hold me down to put a huge needle in my arm, and looking at my Mum and wondering why she wasn't stopping them. Whenever I hear the song 'Tomorrow', from the musical, Annie, I think of hospital too. My Mum used to sing it to me when I had to have an injection or a fingerprick, but instead of singing, 'The sun will come out, tomorrow,' she changed the word to ' Demarco.' I remember there was lot of Winnie the Pooh and Tigger stuff given to me. I have a strange feeling when I see Winnie the Pooh now.
Kerri: I know you’ve had some very cool experiences as a diabetes advocate – can you tell me about your favorite one?
Demarco: Since I have been fundraising, I have now made in total $5500 for JDRF Australia. The best thing that has ever happened from being an advocate is that a lady from Sydney rang my Mum and asked if I would like to go an event called 'Kids in the House', where 100 other kids with Type 1 got together to tell politicians just how much we all need a cure. It was a pretty serious event, but the best thing was that I got to play basketball with the Australian Sydney Olympians at the Australian Institute of Sport. I met one player, also with Type 1 Diabetes. He told me that I was the bravest kid he ever met.(I felt my ears go red.) He said when he was diagnosed at 7, he was horrible to his parents, he used to steal lollies out of the cupboard and lie about his readings. He even said he hated himself. It wasn't 'til he became good at basketball that he realised that Diabetes could stop him at nothing. He changed his life completely. He shook my hand, and introduced me to the team. They lifted me up high in the air, and one guy tried to slam dunk me! The other cool thing was John Howard walked past our table, and I said to Mum' Wow! He looks like George Costanza from Seinfeld!!) I thought world leaders would be big and powerful. Mr. Howard looks like a grandad with caterpillar eyebrows!!! He DOES know a lot about Type 1 Diabetes though, and he is very passionate about finding us a cure. So I guess he is a pretty decent guy then. He’s just very small!
Kerri: You and your mom are a good team and you work together to manage your diabetes. Do you have other friends with diabetes?
Kerri: Being diabetic means there will be some low blood sugars sometimes. I heard that you recently added a new friend to your diabetes team – Chino! Can you tell me about your new friend?Demarco: Chino is a 4 month old pure bred whippet. He is the best thing that has ever happened to me. He goes everywhere with me. The law says that he can go everywhere except an operating theatre of a restaurant kitchen. We have cool ID Cards with our pictures on them. He has picked up so many hypos before they turn dangerous. He has a few different ways of alerting. He will either nudge my chin and whine like he is crying, he will howl like a dingo, he will jump up on Mum and start biting her jewelry or her collar, or he will bite my fingers, and won't stop when I say 'no.' If he does any of these things, we test, and each time, I have had a problem with my blood sugar that I wouldn’t have known about until much later when I started feeling sick. I have had less hypos. It's such a good feeling not to feel that way all the time. I am a happier boy now! Chino came to me because my Mum got in contact with a lady from a company called 'Paws for Diabetics.' She has matched up dogs with people all over Australia and their lives have improved, as well as having a new friend! When he gets older, he will be even better at his job. His sense of smell is 500 times better than ours, so he is able to detect when my sugar levels are changing through sweat. He has all the same rights as a guide dog. As he is so friendly, he has to do a lot of training so that when we are out, he is totally focused only on me. I can't imagine life without him now. I used to only like cats, and there were three breeds that can detect hypo attacks. A Chinese Crested (it has no fur except a tuft on his head-a little creepy) A Shetland Sheepdog, (too big and lots of fur to look after) and that left a whippet. I kept thinking that he would look like the dog off the Simpsons, Santa's Little Helper! He doesn't though. He is beautiful, and he cares for me so much.
Kerri: Aside from doing things to raise awareness about diabetes, what other things do you like to do?Demarco: I really am into Yugi-Oh Collector Cards, I guess because I can speak a bit of Japanese, and I like Anime cartoons. I am also doing pretty well at karate now that I have swapped insulin. (I am on Novorapid and Levemir). I love hanging out with my Mum, she is a good teacher, and she sure knows how to look after people with Diabetes! I just love talking to people, Kerri. They don't have to be six, they can be 30, or 80 or 13, just as long as they have a good heart and treat themselves and me with respect. I want to be a good swimmer too, so when it gets warm again, I will start swimming again. (When I was on Protophane, I couldn't do many sports. I was always hypo even after loads of carbs and less insulin.)
Kerri: Demarco, if you could ride around in a hot-air balloon, what would you want to fly over? Demarco: If I got to go in a Hot Air Balloon, I would probably wanna check out Heaven, just to say hello to my Uncle Paul, and my Grandmother. I would ask my uncle if he could use some heaven magic to keep my eyes and kidneys well. I would want to say hi to Jesus and the angels too. Oh, and the Artic Circle, so that I could spy on Santa, to see what he's got in store for me this Xmas. (I have been pretty good for the first half of the year!)
Kerri: Thanks, Demarco! Enjoy your new friend!