Salisbury High junior works to raise awareness for diabetes after being diagnosed with type 1 last month

Alison Bird, left, and her daughter, Lindsay Veros, tie a blue and gray ribbon to a tree on North Main Street on Friday. The women, along with a group of Lindsay’s friends, have put up about 20 of the ribbons on Main Street to raise awareness for diabetes.
Alison Bird, left, and her daughter, Lindsay Veros, tie a blue and gray ribbon to a tree on North Main Street on Friday. The women, along with a group of Lindsay’s friends, have put up about 20 of the ribbons on Main Street to raise awareness for diabetes.

It started in July when Lindsay Veros became excessively thirsty.

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“Being the mom that I am, I said ‘Drink more, it’s hot outside,’” her mother Alison Bird said.


Just a few weeks later, the 16-year-old felt as if nothing would quench her thirst. Not water, juice or Gatorade.

Frequent urination followed, but Bird just assumed it was because Lindsay was drinking so much.

After school started in August, Lindsay came home complaining she couldn’t see the interactive white board.

“I thought, we’ve got to get her eyes checked,” Bird said.

The mother-daughter pair started to suspect it might be diabetes when they saw a commercial for a prescription drug that listed a number of symptoms Lindsay had been battling.

“I said it can’t be diabetes, we don’t have a family history,” Bird said.

When Lindsay started waking up every day feeling nauseous, Bird knew something wasn’t right.

She took her daughter in to see a doctor. The results from a blood test were startling. Her fasting blood sugar level was 367, much higher than the normal range of between 80 and 120.

By the time Lindsay got to the doctor’s office, her blood sugar level had climbed to close to 600.

“She was immediately admitted to the hospital,” Bird said.

It was at that point that Lindsay was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.

“We kind of ignored the symptoms in the beginning,” Bird said. “I sort of justified them because it was summertime.”

Those with type 1 diabetes are born with the disease, which keeps the body from producing insulin. Only 5 percent of people with diabetes have that form, according to the American Diabetes Association.

“We were all really shocked because type 1 diabetes is usually a genetic thing and nobody in my family’s ever had it,” Lindsay said.

But Bird points out “clearly, you don’t have to have a family history.”

Lindsay spent three days in the hospital getting her blood sugar levels back under control. During that time, she learned how to manage the disease.

“I have to keep food diaries and I have to track my blood sugar,” Lindsay said.

Bird said the entire family is now more cognitive of the amount of carbohydrates, protein and fiber in everything they put into their bodies.

“It’s not just a change for Lindsay, it’s a change for the entire family,” Bird said. “We’ve changed our diet and I’ve been encouraging her brothers to exercise daily, count carbs and be healthy.”

Lindsay said as a vegetarian she already ate “relatively healthy,” so her lifestyle hasn’t changed too drastically.

The main difference is having to prick her finger to test her blood sugar before eating and giving herself insulin shots throughout the day.

“Before this I was extremely scared of needles,” she said. “Now, the finger pricking is my bigger problem and I have to do that more often than I inject.

“It’s definitely been a huge learning experience, everything’s just different.”

Being proactive

Bird said Lindsay was still in the hospital when the pair started brainstorming ways to make people more aware of diabetes.

“We were very caught off guard when we found out, but our family typically tends to take something negative and try to make the best of the situation and that’s exactly what we’ve encouraged Lindsey to do,” she said.

Since being diagnosed exactly a month ago on Oct. 3, Lindsay has started designing and selling T-shirts and lanyards with messages like “Find the Cure” printed on them.

She’s already rounded up a team to participate in the Rowan-Iredell-Cabarrus 2014 Walk to Cure Diabetes set for April 12 in Kannapolis.

Money from both the goods and the walk will go to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, which conducts research in hopes of finding a cure for type 1 diabetes.

Lindsay rounded up friends and family Friday to tie blue and gray ribbons, which were donated by Metcalf Chiropractic Center owner Dr. Robert Metcalf, on about 20 trees lining Main Street. November is National Diabetes Awareness month.

“The ribbon for diabetes is typically gray, but for diabetes awareness they tie in blue,” she said.

Lindsay will be at Cooper’s, The Gathering Place in downtown Salisbury on Nov. 14, World Diabetes Day, to sell her wares and provide information about diabetes. A percentage of sales from that evening will be donated to the research foundation.

“I know that before I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes I didn’t know what it was,” she said. “I just want people to be more educated about it and be aware of what it is.”

Bird said she and Lindsay hope to start a support group for people and families with type 1 diabetes sometime soon because there isn’t currently one in Rowan County.

The family hopes to find more ways to raise money for the research foundation in hopes of finding a cure.

“We’re not ones with a sit back and take it attitude,” Bird said. “We’re going to do our part to find a cure.”

Bird said she’s impressed by the initiative her daughter has taken to spread the word about diabetes.

“At a time where I think she’s in a fragile place, I’m so proud she has taken this diagnosis and found something positive out of it,” she said. “The fact that she’s doing this with an AP and honors course load her junior year of high school makes her a really special girl.

“I don’t know what more I could ask for as a mom.”

Bird said she hopes Lindsay’s message gets out, so that people will be more aware of diabetes in general.

“I just hope everyone will be aware that type 2 diabetes can be avoided simply by making healthy lifestyle choices,” she said. “Unlike type 1 diabetes, it is preventable.”

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