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Walk for diabetes

Jennifer McPhee
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (July 18/03) - A small group of committed Yellowknifers walked along Frame Lake trail Sunday afternoon to raise money to cure diabetes.

Mike and Lee-Ann Dittrich and their three children, who came out to the walk, have a personal interest in finding a cure.

About one month ago the couple's 19-month-old boy Nicholas was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes.

"No one suspected it was diabetes because the odds are so out there," said Mike Dittrich.

After another trip to the doctor, they took him back to emergency.

"He wouldn't do anything, was so lifeless," said Lee-Ann. "I said we're going up there and we're not leaving until we get an answer."

In emergency, the child began vomiting blood. "We were just scared out of our minds," she said.

Emergency staff did blood tests and found his glucose level was more than five times higher than normal.

"Had we not gone in on Sunday, he would have gone into a coma and we probably would have lost him. It was that serious."

A three-person diabetes team from an Edmonton clinic came to Yellowknife and took the child back to the clinic to bring his levels down. His dad went with him, and his mother followed later the same day. In Edmonton, both his parents got a crash course in diabetes.

The whole family, including the couple's two other children Jacquelyn and Tim, have changed what they eat and when.

Nicholas must eat at regular times so that his sugar level doesn't get out of whack.

"We've got them on the same schedule."

She said her children were relieved their brother is going to be OK, and don't complain about the changes.

"In the end, we'll all end up healthier anyway," she said.

Sunday's event was Yellowknife's first walk held by the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Yellowknife is part of the foundation's Edmonton chapter. The proceeds will go towards diabetes research at the University of Alberta.