Local boy, family work to raise diabetes awareness

Adam Dodd sits with his mom, Keely, and sister, Allie, after school in Keely’s classroom. Spread out on the table is Adam’s phone that reads his blood sugar level and Keely’s backpack that holds snacks and other supplies for Adam. (STAR PHOTO/Ashley Roness)
Star Staff Writer

Last month Garfield Elementary School was filled with little blue and gray home-made ribbons to show support for National Diabetes Awareness Month.

The ribbons came from first-grade teacher Keely Dodd and her mother, Kay Carlson.

Dodd’s son, Adam, 8, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in March.

The idea to make the ribbons came from a diabetes Facebook page that Dodd follows. Carlson, willing to help, gathered the supplies and started piecing together the ribbons. She ended up making around 100 that she mailed from Billings to Miles City. They were sold for $1 a piece.

The $100 that was raised will be donated.

“I thought it would be cool to make ribbons for the teachers but it then spread from there,” Dodd said.

Dodd wanted to let all of the students who have diabetes know that the teachers support them.

“A lot of kids don’t know. A lot of kids don’t understand,” Dodd said. 

On Nov. 14, National Diabetes Day, the students and teachers were asked to wear blue. Adam sported his blue ’type 1 pawsitive’ shirt. 

When Adam was diagnosed the family had just returned from a vacation to Key West. They assumed Adam had a cold or infection.

“He was frequently going to the bathroom, drinking constantly, tired, rosy cheeks, all those high blood sugar symptoms,” Dodd said. 

According to Dodd, Adam’s blood sugar was over 600 when he was tested at the hospital.  The next morning the family was in Billings meeting with a specialist. 

Adam is doing better now and working toward educating others on diabetes. 

“Some kids can be really shy about it and he’s always been open. He’s never been shy,” Dodd said.

According to Dodd, one of her proudest moments had to do with her son’s compassion toward other students with diabetes.

“One thing I was most proud of was, he has this little pouch that he keeps his phone in and one of the little kindergarten girls has a purse. I said to him that you can put your pouch under your shirt and he said ‘no, I want her to be able to see that she’s not alone,’” Dodd said. 

Adam’s smartphone is connected to his Dexcom which reads his blood sugar. He is also on a wireless insulin pump. 

Since Adam was diagnosed the family travels monthly to Seattle where he’s part of a clinical trial.

He is helping test a medication that will hopefully slow down the progression of diabetes. “I can save people’s lives,” Adam said. 

Though having diabetes is scary, Adam has a lot of support from his family, friends, teachers and classmates.

His teacher assigned him a buddy to walk him to his mom’s classroom whenever his blood sugar level falls, and his sister, Allie, 11, has learned just what to do to take care of him during those times.

“When he’s low he doesn’t really want to move so you have to get him snacks and drinks. Because moving makes his blood sugar go down more,” Allie explained. 

“When I’m low I just want to go home. I feel icky, sweat,” Adam shared.

Those lows have created a lot of sleepless nights for Dodd and her husband, Brett.

“There’s a lot of staying awake, checking devices, checking alarms, always being prepared with sugar. My purse looks like a five-year-old girls. It has a lot of snacks,” Dodd said. “You just have to do it. You have to be on top of everything all the time. It’s really tiring. But he’s a trooper. He’s really brave about it.”

According to Dodd, Adam is back to himself since his diagnosis. He has his energy and excitement back.

According to his sister, he’s also back to being her annoying little brother. 

(Contact Ashley Roness at starnews@midrivers.com or 406-234-0450.)