INSULIN pumps and a blood glucose monitor are medical equipment you might expect to find in a hospital.
But for four-year-old Joseph Buckley, these are things he has relied on and grown up with since he was two.
After exhibiting symptoms associated with the illness, Joseph was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2009, and, immediately, his life, and those of his parents, Kate and Alan, of Coleridge Crescent, Goring, was changed forever.
Joseph was the couple’s first child, but quickly the pair had to learn how to medicate their son’s condition and take precautions to keep him healthy.
These included checking Joseph’s blood glucose levels eight times a day by pricking his finger with a lance and injecting him twice a day with insulin.
Kate, 33, said: “He had the symptoms of diabetes so we took him to the doctors and it was confirmed quickly.
“It was a very big shock. I knew children could be diagnosed with it, but it was very upsetting.
“But when we went to Worthing Hospital we saw a lot of children who were more sick and we realised it could be a lot worse.”
After six months of injections, Joseph was fitted with an insulin pump – a pager-size device which gives him appropriate doses of the drug, based on his need for it, and causes less discomfort.
Joseph wears his insulin pump 24 hours a day, but Kate said it meant he could now live a more normal life and eat some of the foods children enjoy, such as cake at birthday parties.
Kate and her husband, who now have a second son – nine-month-old James – are now used to treating Joseph’s condition, but Kate said they had needed to develop knowledge in different areas.
She said: “We’ve had to become like doctors, a nurse, a weather forecaster, almost predicting in the next few hours what will happen in Joseph’s life.
“It’s quite a big responsibility to have in addition to being a parent. It’s been very hard, but we can do it – it’s made us stronger.”
Kate said because the condition damages the pancreas’ ability to produce insulin, Joseph will need to treat his condition for the rest of his life, unless a cure is found.
Some 29,000 children in the UK have type 1 diabetes, which was formerly known as juvenile diabetes and tends to develop in people who are otherwise healthy.
Many people live healthy lives with the condition, but there are risks of health complications associated with the illness, such as kidney failure.
In a bid to raise greater awareness for type 1 diabetes, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation will be lobbying Parliament on April 25, and Kate and Joseph will be among 60 families invited to join the charity after Kate won her place in a competition.
She hopes to be joined by Worthing West MP Sir Peter Bottomley, who has told her he hopes to attend.
As part of the conditions of attending the event, Kate will be cycling from Bournemouth to Brighton in May and hopes to raise £750.