McAllen Teen Opens Up About Living with Type 1 Diabetes

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MCALLEN – Being diagnosed with diabetes is a life-altering event in someone’s life. However, for one teen diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, she isn’t going to let it stop her.

Cassidy Robbins, 13, enjoys hanging out with her friends, going to school and swimming. Some may not see that she’s living with Type 1 diabetes.

Every day starts with a blood test for Robbins. She pulls out a test strip, pricks her finger and tests her blood sugar levels.

She tests seven to 10 times a day. The teen was diagnosed with the disease three years ago.

“I was really scared I had no earthly idea what was going on at the time,” she said.

Robbins mother, Ginette Robbins, said the news was shocking.

“Basically her pancreas has stopped working. It does not produce the insulin she needs throughout the day to keep blood sugar in range,” she said.

For the teen, her range is anywhere from 80 to 120. If her sugar levels drop below 80, then she usually starts to feel ill.

“I get super shaky, dizzy, and kind of delirious. I’m not realizing what’s going on around me,” Robbins explained.

If sugar levels are too high, Robbins needs to drink plenty of water. In order to keep track of all the information, she has a PDM – a personal diabetes manager.

“The device is with her 24/7. Keeps track of her insulin levels and helps calculate how much carbs she needs,” her mother said.

Robbins also uses an OmniPod to regulate levels. It holds insulin and releases it as needed throughout the day. It lasts for three days.

Both the OmniPod and PDM have made life a lot easier for Robbins and her family. They know the key to controlling her diabetes is her diet.

She has to count all the carbs she’ll have throughout the day. In morning, she’ll have scrambled eggs, an orange and some milk. Then she packs her lunch for school with healthy snacks like nuts, berries and fruit.

It was a lifestyle change for the Robbins’ family.

The teen’s mother said parents need to pay close attention to their children, sometimes the warning signs are there.

“She was drinking a tremendous amount of water. She would go through three or four bottles of water at one time,” Ginette Robbins said.

In addition to increase thirst there are other signs to look for like weight loss with increased appetite, increased urination, feeling tired and fatigued.

Dr. Humberto Bruschetta helped people with Type 1 diabetes for more than 20 years. He explained what’s happening to the body when someone has Type 1 diabetes.

“There is an absoluter lack of insulin caused by your own immune system killing cells that produce insulin,” he said.

Dr. Bruschetta said Type 1 diabetes is not as common as Type 2 which is caused by poor diet and lack of exercise. About one in 40 people will be diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, even children as young as one-year-old can have it.

“When it’s present you need to take care of it because it’s lethal. You don’t fix it, you die,” Dr. Bruschetta said.

He stressed every case is different and people can chart their own path.

“I’m still going to be able to do swimming. I’m big on art competitions, spend hours there. I’ll be perfectly fine, go to camps and take care of myself,” Robbins said.

The teen added diabetes isn’t going to stop her; she plans to life a happy, full and long life.

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CHANNEL 5 NEWS is dedicating two weeks of coverage and events to diabetes. As part of Heart of the Valley, there will be free screenings, live Q&A session with doctors and more. Learn more on the Heart of the Valley page.