The Johnson Family, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa
December 17, 2002 through January 13, 2003
Rufus arrived in Pietermaritzburg on 15 December 2002, to spend a few months with the children in and around PMB who have diabetes and belong to our support group. His first stop was at the home of Daniel Johnson who is four years old and has had diabetes since he was two and a half.
His first outing was a shopping trip where Daniel's sister Amy (aged 2) excitedly pushed him around in her doll's push-chair. Daniel had a check-up with the clinic sister who was very interested to learn about Rufus. Sometimes a bit of bribery/reward is required for shopping trips and we've found that the range of "Lite" ice creams (e.g., "Status Lite") work very well as an occasional treat and don't raise Dan's sugar levels.
The sister advised us that Daniel's tonsils were inflamed so we followed this up with a trip to the doctor who diagnosed tonsillitis and prescribed an antibiotic.* She, too, was very interested in Rufus. Daniel seems very susceptible to upper respiratory tract infections, related to his allergies to dust mites, and has had two occasions when this saw him hospitalised, once with a severe bout of ketoacidosis, which was very frightening for us. It was an important learning experience, though, and we hope to avoid it in future by getting him to hospital earlier.
Rufus accompanied Daniel and Amy to the Olwazini Discovery Centre, an interactive Science centre in Pietermaritzburg.As we were the only visitors we received lots of attention and information from the very helpful guide at the centre.
Rufus spent a quiet Christmas and New Year with us and a further two weeks in 2003. Daniel was quite ambivalent towards him - he was very interested at first, and particularly enjoyed looking through the diary and learning about the other children with diabetes, but he was reluctant to practice injecting and testing him (he doesn't test or inject himself yet), and often wanted nothing to do with him. He did try out a few injections, which we were pleased about, but usually refused. I suppose all parents of diabetic children find themselves treading the fine line between being very open with their children about their condition and using every opportunity to talk about it, and not letting the child feel that this is what defines them, that they are "abnormal" and "different".
We said goodbye to Rufus on 13 January, after taking him to meet the wonderful ladies who run the Diabetes SA office in Pietermaritzburg.
* As it turns out, Daniel will be having his tonsils out on Friday 24 January - his numerous recent bouts of tonsillitis seemed to warrant it. As it is his first experience of surgery and general anaesthetic since his diagnosis - not to mention the subsequent days when he won't feel like eating much - we are a bit nervous about what lies ahead!
Rufus and Ruby, the bears with diabetes, is the creation of Carol Cramer, who owns the copyright to Rufus and Ruby. The graphics of Rufus are from Rufus Come Home, written by Kim Gosselin and illustrated by Terry Ravenelli, and are used by permission of the author.
Last Updated: Saturday March 08, 2003 22:31:44
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