Friday, March 18, 2005

"Ella would be ahead of the curve for self-management for diabetes of her age group."

Ella Axelrod was diagnosed two years ago with Type 1 diabetes. The photos above show her on the day of her diagnosis, April 30, 2003, left; with her sister, Melissa, last summer; and on her first day of second grade last September.

Family copes with
daughter’s diabetes

The Axelrods use their girl's
condition to educate others

Mike and Bernadette Axelrod were shocked when told about two years ago that their daughter Ella, 7, had Type 1 (juvenile) diabetes.

"It's a brutally steep learning curve ... but you have no choice," he said. "You have to deal with it and learn right away because daily existence depends on controlling your diabetes."

Axelrod runs scuba diving charter boats off Oahu, and his wife is an assistant director working on the new TV series "29 Down," filming on Oahu.

The Kapolei family, including 15-month-old Melissa, already had a healthy lifestyle, and Ella has accepted her condition "extraordinarily well," her father said: "Ella would be ahead of the curve for self-management for diabetes for her age group."

The Axelrods recently received the American Diabetes Association of Hawaii's Family of the Year Award.

ADA Hawaii Executive Director Majken Mechling said the family "has embraced this disease and clearly taken it head-on," educating themselves and supporting diabetes activities.

She said Ella is "an amazingly bright and gifted child" who has been testifying at legislative hearings in support of a bill to allow teachers or school staff to volunteer for training to administer a vial of glucose from a child's emergency kit.

Axelrod said he and his wife took their daughter to the doctor because of her frequent urination. They thought she had a bladder infection, but it is a common initial symptom of juvenile diabetes, he said.

They were told to check her into a hospital after urine tests showed her blood sugar was "off the charts," he said.

Ella required four insulin injections daily, first using syringes, then an insulin pen. She is now on an insulin pump, which "makes your life as close to normal as possible," her father said.

Axelrod said he and his wife are aggressive about controlling Ella's diabetes. They were already eating healthy but had to make some dietary changes, he said.

He said Ella needs help with judgment but "does a remarkably good job of carb counting. ... She has a pretty good idea of what foods are good and bad."

The Axelrods talked to teachers and students at Ella's school, Island Pacific Academy in Kapolei, and the school is supportive of her care, he said.

He said he and his wife have no idea why Ella has insulin dependent Type 1 diabetes, because there is none in the family.

There are a few cases of the more common Type 2 diabetes, which are related to diet and exercise, he said.

He said Ella is participating in the Search Project, a national research study to try to understand more about diabetes among children and youths in the United States.


Isle diabetes group to host
annual charity walk tomorrow

The American Diabetes Association of Hawaii and sponsor Chevron Texaco will hold the sixth annual Walk for Diabetes tomorrow at Kapiolani Park.

"Small Steps. Big Rewards" is the theme of the event, reflecting successes that can result from small steps toward a healthier lifestyle.

Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona and K-3 students at Maemae Elementary School will celebrate the "Step to a Party" Pedometer Program today in anticipation of the walk.

The program distributed free pedometers to teachers who registered their classes on www.gethealthynowhawaii.com, a Get Healthy Now program Web site that encourages parents, schools and communities to promote healthy lifestyles.

Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann, longtime ADA Hawaii Advisory Board member, is honorary chairman of tomorrow's walk. The kickoff will be at 7:15 a.m. with the 2.3-mile walk starting at 8 a.m.

All money raised from the walk will be used for research and public education to deal with diabetes, the nation's fifth-deadliest disease. An estimated 100,000 islanders have the condition, which can lead to blindness, heart and kidney failure.

For more information, call 947-5979 or log on to www.diabetes.org/walk.

E-mail to City Desk


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