A FAMILY from Llandrindod Wells, who almost lost their son to type 1 diabetes, are raising awareness of the symptoms.
Two days before his 16th birthday, Ben Cass was rushed to hospital with blood glucose levels more than six times what they should be.
Due to his undiagnosed type 1 diabetes, Ben had steadily become more and more unwell over the course of several days.
By the time his mother, Lisa Cass, was told to bring him immediately into hospital, Ben weighed just eight stone despite being six feet tall.
Ms Cass, said: “When we arrived at the hospital and were met with a huge team of people ready to treat Ben, the bottom fell out of my world and I realised just how dire the situation was, and I knew that something was seriously wrong.”
Hospital staff said they had never treated anyone as ill as Ben who had survived.
After more than a week spent on an insulin drip and a potassium drip in various intensive care and high dependency wards, Ben began to recover.
Ms Cass added: “By far the most frightening thing about diabetes is the diagnosis. Once you know, and are able to manage the condition, it’s completely controllable. Ben has taken everything in his stride and is dealing with it so well. Diabetes has not stopped him from doing anything – he can still play football, he can still eat chocolate.
“We’re so lucky to have Ben still with us, when the outcome could have been a different one.
“I don’t want any other families to go through what I went through, so we need much more awareness about the symptoms of type 1.”
When keeping a look out for the symptoms of type 1 diabetes, remember the four T’s – toilet, tired, thirsty, and thinner.
“It’s so easy to miss the symptoms of type 1 diabetes in teenagers – or to write them off as something else entirely,” Ms Cass added.
“His appetite for food and particular drink had been enormous, but with teenagers everything is always excessive.
“I’d noticed him losing weight but put it down to puberty. He’d grown six inches in a couple of months, and all of his trousers were suddenly too short so I assumed he was going through a growth spurt and that the weight would come back on again soon enough.”
“I saw the symptoms but something held me back from believing what they represented. If I’d have known more about the symptoms, I would have reacted in a totally different way.
“Getting your child’s symptoms checked out thoroughly as soon as possible could save their life, because once they start to feel physically unwell, everything can change so quickly.
“Even though Ben had obviously been showing symptoms of type 1 diabetes for quite some time, the only time he actually felt ill was the day before he was rushed into hospital.”
Following his stint in hospital, Ben, has put on three stone and is managing his diabetes on a day-to-day basis using an insulin pump, he also has check-ups every three months.
The Cass family are working with Diabetes UK Cymru to spread awareness through the “Know Type 1” campaign.
The campaign has been launched in Diabetes Week which started on June 11 and ends on June 17.
The official launch was at the Senedd, Cardiff on Tuesday.
For more information about Diabetes UK and the campaign, visit: www.diabetes.org.uk/wales