Daniel was nearly 16 when he began to experience strange symptoms: constant thirst, weight loss and muscle fatigue. It was the summer of 2018 and Daniel was in diabetic ketoacidosis. His body was unable to produce enough insulin, making his blood dangerously acidic. His mother, Alisa, rushed him to Children’s National Hospital. The quick and compassionate care of the emergency care physicians eased Alisa’s mind, but the implications of Daniel’s diagnosis, type 1 diabetes, still frightened her.
That feeling disappeared when Dr. Fran Cogen arrived. She reassured Daniel that his condition would not interfere with a normal life. A full day of diabetes care education with her team followed. Daniel and Alisa both participated, but he was the focus. “Dr. Cogen and her team struck a balance between providing support and fostering independence,” says Alisa. Daniel learned how to test his blood glucose and administer his own insulin, giving him the confidence, comfort and control he needed to manage his condition.
These days, Daniel takes his diagnosis in stride. His mother credits Dr. Cogen’s philosophy that diabetes does not limit a child’s potential. The care and knowledge he receives from her team empowers him to make choices that benefit his health. “Emotionally, I feel at least as good now as I did pre-diagnosis,” Daniel says. “Physically, it’s so much easier for me to manage my blood sugar when I get consistent exercise. That’s led to more exercise on my part, making me feel better.”
Enjoying a fun meal out with friends isn’t a problem, either. Daniel understands how to manage his insulin dosage. “I can go wherever anyone else goes,” he says. Freedom and independence are essential to teenagers. Thanks to Dr. Cogen and her team, Daniel has the tools he needs to be the teen he is.
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