A devoted Norfolk dad is on a training mission to run a marathon to raise awareness of the condition which almost cost his two-year-old son his life.
In February 2011, when Henry Muskett was two-years-old, he spent 2 days in intensive care at the James Paget Hospital fighting for his life after his health severely deteriorated during the month earlier. Whilst in intensive care he was diagnosed as having Type 1 diabetes - a condition which few people are aware can affect children so young.
Now, Henry’s dad Nathan, from Wicklewood near Wymondham, is getting set to run the Paris Marathon in April to raise money for the Norfolk and Norwich District Diabetes UK Youth Group
. Inspired by his ‘strong and courageous’ son, the solicitor has persevered with an intense training regime, clocking-up in excess of 72km per week on the roads, and has already lost four and half stone, in preparation for the gruelling 42km run.
“When Henry fell ill it was terrifying,” said Nathan. “The early-onset of Type 1 diabetes can resemble certain viruses, especially in young children who are unable to explain how they are feeling. After numerous visits to the GP surgery, we only suggested that he should be tested for diabetes after my wife searched for his symptoms online in desperation.”
Type 1 diabetes is a condition that means the body stops producing insulin due the failure of a major organ, the pancreas. Henry is now insulin dependent for the rest of his life. He has to have over 15 finger pricks each day to test his blood sugar levels, all of his food has to be weighed and carbohydrates counted and his blood glucose has to be monitored and corrected many times throughout the night.*
Until recently Nathan, and Henry’s mum Victoria, had to inject him with insulin up to six times a day. Henry has now been fitted with an insulin pump, which delivers the insulin through a canula in place of separate injections.
“We have to be Henry’s pancreas for him, especially while he is so young.” added Nathan. “But he is a true inspiration for every child suffering with diabetes. He always has a smile on his face, never crying or complaining. He tries to live life like all other two-year olds. He is the bravest person I know.”
Nathan, who heads up the family business team in Norwich for regional law firm Birketts LLP, will run the marathon with three old school friends. The money raised will help the Norfolk and Norwich District Diabetes UK youth group to support families of children with the same condition and raise awareness to prevent other parents going through the same trauma.
He added: “There are thousands of children who could benefit from increased funding and awareness of diabetes. We want to help educate parents about diagnosis and assure those who are in the same situation that they are not alone. “
“Awareness about diabetes in young children in is low. But all it takes to diagnose it is a simple urine test. The marathon is starting point for us. Our ultimate goal is, to work with others like us, to make the symptoms and means of diagnosis of Type 1 diabetes as commonly recognised as the 'glass on the arm test’ for meningitis. Statistics show that Type 1 diabetes is 5 times more common than meningitis. But you don’t see any posters or other information, about Type 1 Diabetes, for parents in GP's surgeries or schools. ”