Spreading illness awareness
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.