before diabetes diagnosis

About Diabetes Advocacy

before diabetes diagnosis www.diabetesadvocacy.comDiabetes Advocacy is a website dedicated to those living with Type 1 Diabetes.

Diabetes Advocacy is filled with knowledge, resources, and support. It has become a voice for those living with Type 1 diabetes. It has been heard by politicians on both provincial and federal levels.

Diabetes Advocacy was instrumental in the 2004 reform of the Disability Tax Credit which now allows people living with Type 1 diabetes to receive the credit.

We continue to work to improve access to devices and supplies for those living with diabetes in Canada, as well as working to protect the rights of children in schools.

Diabetes Advocacy is run by Barb Wagstaff. Barb’s youngest son was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes when he was just two years old. From that day forward, she dedicated much of her time and energy to making the best possible life for her son and for other living with this disease.

Barb created the Diabetes Advocacy website when she could not find enough information and support for Canadians. She set about attempting to fill that gap by focusing on issues and challenges that affected Canadians living with Type 1 Diabetes.

Barb has a degree in Psychology and is a Certified Life Coach but has no medical training. Living with a child with type 1 diabetes has led her to advocate, provide information and offer support to people living with diabetes throughout Canada and the world.

Barb and Diabetes Advocacy continue to grow each day with the help and support of people who visit this site.

This site receives no federal or organizational funding. You can support Diabetes Advocacy through purchases made in our online store. If you would like to further assist or advertise your authorized diabetes-related item on this site, please contact us.

We accept advertisements for products and services that we deem to be of interest to our readers and which are in keeping with our editorial policy of patient empowerment, sound science, and medical accuracy. All advertising must be vetted through Diabetes Advocacy first.

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Our Diagnosis Story

My youngest son had always been a thin child. It was March of 2000 and he was two. It was flu season.

I was sure that he was teething and didn’t worry much when he seemed a little under the weather. He was listless but he could manage to walk to the fridge, open it and pour himself a glass of juice! How sick could he be I wondered?

His diapers were drenched constantly. I had blankets laying everywhere as we couldn’t keep him dry. He was drinking a lot so I didn’t worry about dehydration. He would only stay in my arms and he liked to sleep a lot. He was my baby so I let him. It would pass.

One day he woke up and he was clawing at his tongue. It was full of white spots. That was it. We packed him up and headed to the Emergency Room.

He vomited along the way.   We were finally seen by the doctor and he was diagnosed with an ear infection. They gave him medication for the Thrush on his tongue.

We were asked if he was drinking fluids. I said that is all he is doing! They said that was good. We went home.

A few days later he was worse. We called our family doctor and got in right away. He was labouring to breathe as we sat in the office. His feet were solid ice despite the woolen socks on his feet. I had no idea what was wrong.

Our family doctor took one look at him and said that he has diabetes and was in Ketoacidosis. His blood had too much carbon dioxide in it.

On the off chance, it was simply a chest infection, emergency x-rays were ordered along with the blood work. We went to the hospital and waited no time.

My little boy’s body was lifeless and I had to hold him up for all tests. The hospital staff looked worried. I still didn’t understand what was truly going on.   We returned to the doctor’s office and waited only a few minutes.

As I sat in the office, I saw a sign that gave the warning signs of diabetes. My son had too many to list!

We were told to drive to the hospital in the next town as fast as we could. They were waiting for us. There was no time to waste.

We drove through a blinding snowstorm. I held my little boy in my arms willing him to live. I was terrified.

I didn’t know what the words the doctor had said meant but I knew my baby’s life was at stake. It was not just an ear infection or teething. It was something much worse and it was literally sucking the life out of my little boy.

When we got to the hospital, the woman seemed to take years to register us. I wanted her to hurry but it didn’t seem to help. Finally, she finished and took us to the pediatric floor herself rather than confusing me with directions.

The staff took over. They weighed my son on a baby scale. He weighed 11kg at 2 1/2 years old. They poked him and prodded and he didn’t respond. The doctor took one look at him and sent him to ICU.

He was hooked up to more tubes than I could imagine. The doctor came back to talk to us.

Our son had diabetes. His blood glucose level was 7 times the normal range. The next 12 hours were critical. If he lived then we would learn to deal with this disease called Type 1 Diabetes. In the meantime, all we could do was pray.

I was stunned.  We followed his advice and prayed like never before. I never left my child’s side. Family was called and they began their own prayers and prayer chains for us. All I could do was focus on the fact that my little boy had to live.

Twenty-four hours later he was ripping out IVs and catheters. When he went back to the pediatric floor, I began to realize how weak he was.

I noticed that he had hardly spoken in weeks. I saw the flesh sag off of his little bottom. When he fell down, he was too weak to get up and I had to stand him back up.

I was terrified of how I would care for him when he came home.   They gave me things to read and I learnt that if he went “low” while he was asleep he could have a seizure and die.

I learnt about the damage that the Ketoacidosis could have caused. I learnt what could develop in my son at a very early age. I also learnt what my life would be about–fighting this disease, improving awareness, and doing everything I could for my son and everyone else’s children who live with diabetes no matter what their age.

Barb’s achievements and qualifications include…

  • Driving force behind the changes to the Disability Tax Credit as it applies to those living with Type 1 diabetes through grassroots initiatives directed by this website.
  • Guest speaker for JDFR St. John’s, NL December 2017
  • Faculty member of the Children with Diabetes Friends for Life Canadian Conference, August 2010 to 2016
  • Guest speaker for the Teaching Assistant Program in Western College, Stephenville, NL campus April 2009 and April 2010
  • A member of the Education for Children with Diabetes Foundation review board for Canadian Scholarship application (2008)
  • Co-host of T1D Podcast with Scott Herring (2008-2009)
  • The 2007 Jeff Hitchcock Distinguished Service Award, sponsored by LifeScan, was presented to Barb Wagstaff (Marche) for her leadership and advocacy for children with diabetes in Canada (July 12, 2007)
  • Faculty member of the Children with Diabetes Focus on Pumping Regional Conference in Toronto August 2007 and March 2009
  • A member of the Advisory Committee for the Diabetes Hope Foundation Scholarship fund for Newfoundland and Labrador. (2007 to 2009)
  • A member of the Chronic Disease and Social Inequities Workshop Planning Committee (2006)
  • A member of the Newfoundland and Labrador Provincial Diabetes Strategy Committee (2006)
  • Former Chairperson of the Newfoundland and Labrador Canadian Diabetes Association Advocacy Committee (2005-2006)
  • Member of the Canadian Diabetes Association’s National Working Group on the Disability Tax Credit (2005)
  • Member of the Canadian Diabetes Association’s National Working Group on Children with Diabetes in Schools (2005-2007)
  • Selected by the Canadian Diabetes Association’s National Awards Committee to receive the Distinguished Achievement Award 2005, NL
  • A member of the Insulin Pumpers Canada Advisory Committee (2004-2007)
  • Vice-Chairperson for the Bay St. George Branch of the Canadian Diabetes Association and the Chairperson for their advocacy committee (2003-2010)
  • Bachelor of Arts degree majoring in psychology, University of Calgary (1991)
  • Certified Coach Practitioner, Certified Coaches Federation, September 2012

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