Dancing for Diabetes has given 10-year-old Grace Abbruzzese a chance to meet other girls her age with the same disease.
When one member of the family is diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, it typically affects the entire household. Such is the case for 10-year-old Grace Abbruzzese, who lives in the Windermere area and was diagnosed with the disease in February 2018.
“Prior to her diagnosis, we never looked at food labels, we had no need to look at food labels,” said her mother, Pam Abbruzzese. “But that’s the main thing, we have to count the carbohydrates that she eats, and we’re measuring all the food. We weigh it and measure it, but it’s helped us become more aware of what we’re eating.”
Abbruzzese said Grace has no restrictions; she just has to have insulin when she eats a small sugary snack.
“When her sugar is low, she gets to eat something like Mike and Ike’s,” Abbruzzese said. “She would much rather have low blood sugar than high because then she can have sugar, she can have her candy. … And depending on how low it is, she can only have two or three. It’s not like she’s having a box or anything.”
The trick is to eat just enough sugar to bump the levels up to an acceptable number.
Grace has found her tribe with the Dancing for Diabetes program, where she has met other children with Type 1 diabetes. When she’s with them, she isn’t the only one wearing a continuous glucuse monitor and an insulin pump. She’s just like everyone else in the room.
The group meets on Saturdays to practice the dance.
Abbruzzese said she is grateful for the community at Dancing with Diabetes — for her daughter and for herself.
“While the girls are in their studio doing their part of the dance, us moms can bounce things off each other and get advice and tips,” Abbruzzese said. “Some of us are new to this, and … it’s a really, really great community. Prior to Grace’s diagnosis I didn’t know anything about Type 1 diabetes.”
DFD also hosts an event designed to educate parents and caregivers. After learning Grace had the disease, Abbruzzese attended a Touched by Type 1 program to learn about nutrition and caring for children with Type 1. She walked away with a great deal of helpful tips, she said.
For instance, rotating the insulin pump to different areas on her body keeps scar tissue from forming. And since receiving the pump in February, Grace has become more independent.
“Especially at school, because I was going up to the school every day to give her an injection at lunch.”
There are three primary types of Diabetes (Type 1, Type 2 and Gestational). Type 1 previously was once known as juvenile diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes. It is a chronic condition in which the pancreas produces little or no insulin.
“Grace’s diagnosis has definitely changed our lives; it has become more stressful and we worry about her even more now, and also I don’t sleep as much since we are constantly trying to keep her blood sugars in the normal range,” Abbruzzese said. “It’s great that she has the Dancing for Diabetes group to be a part of. It’s really great for Grace to be around other kids her age who are also managing Type 1 diabetes and good for us parents, as well, to have other parents to connect with who can relate.”