Your Health

Sunday, Oct 14 2012 04:49 PM

Defying the Odds: Standing up to Type 1

By Breanna Fields

What was planned as a typical family vacation in Los Cabos turned into something else entirely.

At the time, eight-year-old Eileen Roux (now eleven) and her parents had no idea that her health would decline rapidly within the next 24-hours. After becoming ill, she was taken back to a hotel room to lay in bed and rest while she was closely monitored by her parents. Her father, Richard Roux, admits that it was a stressful period of time filled with uncertainty.

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“We thought we were going to loose her,” said Richard Roux.

It all happened December 29, 2009 — hours were spent trying to figure out what was wrong as her health continued to deteriorate. She began dragging her feet and slurring her words, which immediately prompted her father to call the hotel staff. Five minutes later he reached a doctor over the phone, but by that time Eileen had slipped into a coma.

As time passed it became clear that type 1 diabetes was the cause of her illness. The symptoms were there, although the peculiar “fruit smell” that Richard went on to describe may not have been recognized had Dr. Raul Rivas not been a diabetes specialist.

“He [Rivas] said he could smell a fruity smell in the room because she was in DKA (diabetic ketoacidosis). Basically, the body is not producing insulin anymore so it's burning up the fat in order to try to keep the body energized,” said Richard Roux.

As the night wore on an ambulance rushed her to the nearest hopital where they began to stabilize her. In order to get the best medical care and attention she was flown back to San Diego from Baja, Calif. on a Life Flight. Almost instinctively, Eileen woke from the coma when they touched down in San Diego.

“They told us they're going to do what they could to try and save her, but normally a person's blood sugar level is between 80 and 120 and hers was at 1,057. The doctor said that her organs were stressed and possibily shutting down,” said Richard Roux.

Fortunately, she was cared for in time and the doctors managed to stabilize her blood glucose level.

“We thought we were going to loose her. She's our only child; so obviously we were just very grateful,” said Richard Roux.

Since she was first diagnosed back in 2009, Eileen has gone on to a live a healthy and normal childhood as a student at Downtown Elementary. She does, however, have to check her insulin levels on a daily basis.

“I have to test my blood sugar everyday before meals and whenever I feel dizzy or dehydrated. I have to give myself insulin everytime after I eat and I have the pump. It gives me insulin and it acts like a pancreas, so I don't have to get shots everyday, but every three days I do,” said Eileen Roux.

There is a common misconception between type one and two diabetes. Eileen and Richard Roux wanted to set the record straight: Type one diabetes (also known as juvenile diabetes) is caused by the body not producing enough insulin. Type two diabetes, on the other hand, is a result of being unfit and often times overweight.

In an effort to share her story and inspire youth, she has created a Facebook page called “Stand Up To Type 1 Diabetes” to promote awareness. Eileen will also be participating in the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation at Yokuts Park on Novem- ber 3. Her team, Eileen's Electric Youth has raised $300 so far, but hope to reach $2,000 to donate to JDRF.

“It [diabetes] hasn't held her back from doing anything she wants, which is great,” said Richard Roux. “We've just got to be more careful and plan things out.”


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