Tallahassee twin toddlers learn to live with Type 1 diabetes

Tallahassee twin toddlers learn to live with Type 1 diabetes
Tallahassee twin toddlers learn to live with Type 1 diabetes
Posted at 6:15 PM, Jun 23, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-23 17:06:15-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) - More than 1 million Americans are living with Type 1 diabetes (T1D), an autoimmune disease where the pancreas stops making insulin.

One out of every 400 children has T1D, and for one Tallahassee family, a pair of twins were both diagnosed before the age of 2.

"It can happen to anyone. We don't have it in our families," said Rebeka Joseph, the mother of Eva and Leah Joseph. "This was a strike of lightning that hit us. Twice."

Leah was diagnosed when she was just 10 months old. Her parents thought she had the flu, but her blood sugar level was dangerously high.

"My baby was 10 months old, and she had diabetes," Rebekah said. "My life changed forever in that moment."

Just nine months later, Eva was diagnosed with T1D. Rebekah was able to detect it, thanks to the medical team at Tallahassee Memorial.

"As they grow up, there will be physicians here who can continue to take care of them," said Dr. Larry Deeb, a pediatric endocrinologist at TMH. "There will be the Diabetes Center that can continue to offer support at every stage of life."

"We're there to continue training and making sure that they make the transition -- being able to learn some of the care things themselves, so that they can take care of their bodies as they grow and develop," said Katherine Owen, a certified diabetes educator at TMH.

TMH provided the girls with devices that monitor and administer insulin throughout the day.

"It's an hourly -- almost minute-to-minute disease," Rebekah said.

As the girls grow up, the family wants to make sure their teachers know how to handle issue with diabetes. TMH trained the staff at Good Samaritan Academy to do just that.

"The girls are able to develop as little people that can play with other kids," Rebekah said. "I want them to realize how normal they are. There's really no difference."

That's what Belinda Rodebaugh hopes for, too. She was diagnosed when she was 5 years old.

"It is part of your life, and it never goes away. However, it will respond to things that you do," Rodebaugh said. "So, the more you research what you eat and what you don't is a really good thing."

The twins will celebrate their second birthday in September. The family says the support they've received gives them confidence to manage any challenge that comes their way.