Three-year-old Kai has diabetes. To manage it, his parents change his sensor and insulin pump regularly – which hurts! So, to help the process, Satan’s Little Helper sent Kai some superhero toys to act as a distraction.
Over 250,000 New Zealanders have diabetes and, for a while, Kai was the youngest. He was just nine months old when his mum Ashleigh rushed him to hospital after she followed her “mum instinct”.
“A month before his diagnosis, I thought he was having a seizure so I took him to hospital. Nothing came of it, and I was sent home. Following that, he had another incident where he went floppy, his eyes started rolling back in his head, he was vomiting and struggling to breath. The GP gave us some antibiotics, but I followed my gut and rushed him to hospital. When I got him there, the staff took one look at him and hit the emergency button!
“He was in a state called diabetic ketoacidosis, which can be life-threatening. Kai was sent to intensive care and diagnosed with diabetes soon after that.”
A terrifying experience
After the “terrifying” experience, Ashleigh and Michael (Kai’s dad) were taught how to administer insulin to their baby, which has kept his condition under control.
Now three, Kai depends on a 24/7 insulin pump and has a sensor inserted into his arm to keep a continuous watch on his blood sugar levels.
While the technology makes it easy to keep track of Kai’s diabetes, it does require him to have several painful and uncomfortable injections.
“It’s hard to explain to him that he needs the needles, so he can be healthy and feel good,” explains Ashleigh.
“He has a one-inch needle in his tummy, which gets changed every three days, but can be up to every day if he disturbs it while he’s playing. He also needs another needle in his arm, which contains the sensor. That gets changed every seven days.”
Ashleigh says the one in his stomach is the most uncomfortable, as it can hurt when he’s playing – especially if he’s bending over or twisting as it pushes the needle in deeper.
To help Ashleigh and Michael change the needles without Kai feeling too much pain, Satan’s Little Helper sent him a few toys from the Marvel universe to act as a distraction, which Ashleigh says has been brilliant.
“He plays with them every day; he’s absolutely obsessed. He’s only just got into Marvel and he loves it. Kai will pretend that they’re lifting things around the house and he’ll make little noises or voices while he’s playing.
“The best thing for us is that he used his Hulk toy to ‘help’ his dad put the sensor in his arm, which completely distracted him from the pain or any feelings of discomfort.”
Ashleigh says that changing the needle can be difficult but has been much easier since the toys arrived .
“Kai will often run and hide or make up little reasons why he can’t get his needle changed. When I said we can play with his toys while changing the sensor, he came over straight away and didn’t even look at the needle! It’s made such a difference.”