Spread­ing ill­ness aware­ness

Matamata Chronicle - - News - By NI­COLA STE­WART

When Matthew Richard­son was di­ag­nosed with Type 1 di­a­betes aged 3, his par­ents Rochelle and Gra­ham were shocked.

The fol­low­ing two weeks were spent in hospi­tal learn­ing about blood glu­cose lev­els and in­sulin in­jec­tions.

With no fam­ily

his- tory of di­a­betes, their son was fac­ing a chronic con­di­tion with no known cure.

Five years later, the Richard­son fam­ily have learned to live with Matthew’s ill­ness and Mrs Richard­son is help­ing other fam­i­lies to do the same.

Af­ter hear­ing there was a num­ber of chil­dren in Mata­mata with Type 1 di­a­betes, the de­ter­mined mother es­tab­lished a sup­port group in the dis­trict.

‘‘It’s quite nice when you are go­ing through a tough time to have a sup­port net­work; to talk to other fam­i­lies about how they cope and what they do when cer­tain prob­lems arise,’’ she said.

‘‘ Ob­vi­ously ev­ery child is dif­fer­ent but you learn so much by just talk­ing to other par­ents.’’

There are presently 10 fam­i­lies in the group who meet reg­u­larly to share their ex­pe­ri­ences and lis­ten to guest speak­ers.

As a ‘‘ vo­cal lit­tle group,’’ Mrs Richard­son said they helped to lobby new re­search ini­tia­tives such as the pig cell trial.

Mem­bers were also in­volved in speak­ing at events and help­ing to ed­u­cate peo­ple on Type 1 di­a­betes, she said.

‘‘ We held a school expo where teach­ers could come along and learn about the con­di­tion – what to ex­pect, and what to look for.’’

Lately, the group has been rais­ing money to help pro­vide in­sulin pumps to chil­dren in the area.

At a cost of any­where from $5000 to $8000, the pumps slowly dripfeed in­sulin into the blood stream, keep­ing sugar lev­els reg­u­lar.

They only re­quire one in­ser­tion ev­ery three days, re­plac­ing up to seven daily in­sulin in­jec­tions.

‘‘It’s a lot eas­ier on the younger kids,’’ said Mrs Richard­son. ‘‘There’s not re­ally any pain at all.’’

The Re­doubt Bar and Eatery, Bang and the Red Vel­vet Room had hosted a num­ber of events to help raise funds, she said.

‘‘We have been lucky with the sup­port we have had from the Mata­mata com­mu­nity.’’

While the group will con­tinue to raise money for in­sulin pumps, they are also look­ing to sup­port a new ven­ture by Mata­mata woman Noela Val­lis.

For more than 20 years, Mrs Val­lis has been driv­ing re­search for spinal cord in­juries and has now started to look for a cure for Type 1 di­a­betes.

‘‘We are go­ing to put our heads to­gether to try and help her raise the funds she needs. As a par­ent it’s that lit­tle bit of hope you can grab hold of.’’

In the mean­time, Mrs Richard­son said she was con­stantly pre­pared for any­thing that comes with Type 1 di­a­betes. ‘‘It can be re­ally hard some­times but we just do it. It’s just a part of our lives now.’’

Mrs Richard­son was recog­nised for her ded­i­ca­tion to help­ing fam­i­lies with chil­dren suf­fer­ing from Type 1 di­a­betes at the an­nual vol­un­teer awards last week.

Pre­pared: Mata­mata mother Rochelle Richard­son con­stantly tracks her 8-year-old son’s blood sugar lev­els.

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