Mum’s instinct helped catch scary health condition
A DISAPPOINTING result at the school cross country carnival was the first clue something was off.
Most people would brush it off but for natural runner Ashton Walker it was a clear sign and triggered alarm bells for his mum Tara.
There were even more red flags when 8-year-old Ashton began feeling exhausted and developed flu-like symptoms.
The unexplained illness pushed Ms Walker to visit the family doctor and Ashton was rushed to Mackay Base Hospital immediately the GP who did a finger prick test.
By the time the family got there, the 8 year old could barely walk.
After a couple of tests, hospital staff confirmed Ashton had Type 1 Diabetes - a chronic condition where the pancreas produces little or no insulin causing low blood sugar levels.
The condition normally develops in adolescence and causes the body's immune system to mistakenly attack the cells inside the pancreas that make insulin - scientists do not understand why this happens.
It differs from Type 2 Diabetes which usually relates to a person's lifestyle factors.
Now nine years old, Ashton said the diagnosis had an impact on his life.
"Not much has changed," he said pausing before continuing, "well a lot (has) actually."
Ms Walker said the little things most take for granted, like eating, playing or having sleepovers with friends were not as simple for the Walker family.
Ashton wears a Dexcom Continuous Glucose Monitoring device that provides constant information of glucose levels and he wears an insulin pump to deliver his insulin.
"I think the biggest thing for Ashton is not going over to friend's houses to play or having sleepovers because of the responsibility it would put on the parents," Ms Walker said.
"A lot of preparation has to go into meal preparation for Ashton. He can eat most foods, but we have to calculate the insulin beforehand."
Ms Walker who works as a psychologist said the diagnosis caused a mental and emotional toll for the family.
"It has been a massive year for Ashton adjusting to this new way of life and as parents, the education and responsibility has been huge, it can be really exhausting," she said.
Ms Walker said the family applied positive wellbeing and mental health strategies she learned through her training to enhance communication and ensure happiness at home.
Support from the hospital through the CQ Diabetes Camp as well as support from Ashton's school and friends has helped the family cope.
Despite his diagnosis and the new 'tech' he now wears, Ashton said he was still a regular kid and offered some advice to other children facing the same challenge.
"It does get better, you will get used to it and live a normal life again."
Last week was National Diabetes Week.