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SANDY BOY TAKING CHARGE OF HIS DIABETES

Diabetes is called the silent killer because many people do not discover they have the disease until there is a life-threatening complication such as kidney disease, heart disease or stroke. Diabetes is the fourth-leading cause of death by disease in the United States.

The American Diabetes Association, Utah Affiliate, notes that children with diabetes will usually develop insulin-dependent (Type-I) diabetes, which requires daily insulin injections and regular monitoring of blood sugar levels.There are 115,000 children with diabetes in the United States today. Most will experience something very much like what 10-year-old Sandy resident Jeremy Ainsworth did two years ago when he became ill. "Jeremy got sick within a week's time," said his mother, Michelle Ainsworth. "He is a really active boy, but he'd come home from school and just sit. Also, he was really thirsty."

Jeremy's doctor thought the boy was just going through a growth spurt. And for the next two days, Jeremy was better. But while the family was on a camping trip to Strawberry Reservoir, he became really ill. "His eyes got dark; you can tell that they're sick," his mother said. Jeremy was taken home and his mother was directed to an all-night pharmacy for urine testing strips. "His sugar count was real high - the strip went dark in 30 seconds," she said. Jeremy was admitted to Primary Children's Medical Center, and by 4 a.m. the diagnosis was clear: Jeremy had juvenile diabetes.

Jeremy is an exceptional youngster. By noon the next day, he'd had his first shot and was up bouncing off the walls of his hospital room. "He'll do his own shots twice a day and he tests his blood level four times a day. He's real knowledgeable about his illness and he's interested in thing like this," his mother said. At a summer camp sponsored by the Utah Diabetes Affiliate, Jeremy met a 13-year-old who couldn't administer his own shots after five years of the disease.

Ainsworth is grateful for the camps that Jeremy attends twice a year. "At any of the camps the kids learn to do things more on their own and they learn they're not alone - other people have diabetes, too," she said.

"I feel like the kids need more youth activities, not just camp," she said. "They need a lot of moral support. And it's harder for them to have diabetes, to be different, the older they get."

Camp Utada is sponsored by the Utah Affiliate of the American Diabetes Association. There are three one-week sessions and two weekend family camps during the summer and two weekend winter camp programs. Enrollment is now more than 400 with 160 staff members. With a competent medical staff and classes for the children in managing their diabetes, Ainsworth said parents can relax, knowing their children are in good hands.

Camp Utada is supported entirely by private donations and camper fees. Fund-raisers assist with scholarships for needy children. For information about the camps or juvenile diabetes, call the Utah Affiliate at 363-3024.

Diabetes is a serious disease, but as Ainsworth said, "At least we can keep it under control. With other diseases you don't have control over anything."

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Hospitals offer free testing

Free testing for diabetes will be offered at four local hospitals. In addition, area pharmacies, libraries and school districts will distribute a written quiz to help Utahns determine if they are at risk for the disease.

- ST. MARK'S HOSPITAL, 1200 E. 3900 South: Monday, March 23, through Friday, March 27, 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.

- HOLY CROSS MEDICAL PARK, 1275 E. Fort Union Blvd.: Tuesday, March 24, 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.

- ALTA VIEW HOSPITAL, 9660 S. 1300 East: Tuesday, March 24, 8:30 a.m. until 11:30 a.m.

- HOLY CROSS HOSPITAL, 1050 E. South Temple: Thursday, March 26, noon-4 p.m.