Class steps up to help cure Clarissa’s diabetes

Clarissa Crowe and her Lambton Centennial classmates at the Walk to Cure Diabetes.

When Clarissa Crowe was diagnosed with type one diabetes, it turned her family’s world upside down.
Last year, the Lambton Centennial student was home sick, lying on the couch with a fever and vomiting and no energy to do anything. When she told her dad, Paul, she was seeing double, he rushed her to the emergency room. It wasn’t long before they found out she was diabetic.
Mom, Joanne, says the diagnosis came “right out of left field. There was no hint.”
It was tough, admits Paul. “It was a huge learning curve and an extremely huge lifestyle change,” he says.
And everyone in the family had to be involved. Joanne says even the grandparents were trained on Clarissa’s care and eating habits so they could have sleepovers together.
The change was the largest, of course, for Clarissa. The 10-year old counts carbs and uses an insulin pump to help her body keep her sugar level within an acceptable range.
And she knows she can’t have everything her friends eat. “At school I sit beside my best friend and she will sometimes have gummies or a piece of cake and I just kind of have to say no,” Clarissa says.
Joanne says Clarissa can have some sweets but “you don’t eat a whole piece of cake… you have a couple of bites of cake.”
Clarissa has had to learn to deal with questions from people about what she is doing and what the device on her waist does. And that’s not always easy. “They say, ‘ooh what’s that.’ It kinda bugs me a bit.”
But it helps to have a supportive class. Almost everyone from her Grade 4/5 class at Centennial came to the Junior Diabetes Research Foundation Walk to Cure Diabetes in Sarnia Saturday to support their friend.
Together, they raised about $1,500 for the cause. “It’s awesome. The support from the school has been amazing,” says Joanne.
That support is important to Clarissa and to her parents who are still learning to adjust.  “It’s still overwhelming sometimes,” says Paul. “There are good days and there are bad days and there are days we don’t know if she’ll end up in the hospital for the night.”