Meet Brian Hulmes in Denver, CO, whose family was thrown into the world of type 1 diabetes recently when his toddler daughter was diagnosed, and another daughter tested positive for T1D autobodies. He may have found a way to make it less scary for everyone...
His idea is to write a children's book that isn't necessarily about diabetes itself, but can provide reassurance about tackling frightening things and being brave. It's complete with silly characters and little monsters, too!
Brian has launched a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign in hopes of raising enough money to publish this book that he could someday present not only to his own daughter(s), but also to others across the Diabetes Community.
On Facing Diabetes with Storytelling, by D-Dad Brian Hulmes
Hi! We’re the Hulmes, and our type 1 story began about a year ago.
Our then 9-month-old woke up limp—she couldn’t lift her head or arms and she was breathing heavy. My wife took her to the doctor who couldn’t find anything wrong with her. On a whim we decided to test her blood sugar levels, and she came back extremely high. So the doctor advised my wife to get to the hospital as quickly as was safe. At the hospital, our daughter was placed in an ambulance with a LifeFlight team and hurried to a larger hospital that was equipped with a PICU. I left work and met my wife and daughter at the hospital, where our daughter spent four days there recovering.
We’re very lucky to live in Denver where the Barbara Davis Center for Diabetes is located. We received really great training and care from them. As I’m sure some of you can relate, the past year has been filled with sleepless nights full of CGM notifications and bottles of chocolate milk. It hasn’t been easy, but we’ve learned to find joy in the journey.
Earlier this year we decided to get our two older children tested for their likelihood to get type 1 diabetes through the nationwide study called TrialNet. Our son’s results came back negative, but our 5-year-old daughter came back with two positive autoantibodies, which means she has a higher than 50% chance of developing T1D in the next 5 years. We decided to enroll her in an experimental pre-type 1 study with the Barbara Davis Center. To prep for the study, we had to test her blood sugar levels every day and night for a week. We kinda thought, “No big deal. We’ve been doing it with our one-year-old for almost a year.” But our oldest is TERRIFIED of needles. It’s almost impossible to explain how difficult it is to have to pin down your frantic child and stab her with a needle. I’ll never forget having to do that.
We tried all sorts of things to get her to relax, but nothing seemed to work. I decided to tell her a story to get her to calm down enough to let us draw her blood. I made up a silly story about a creature named Alison that was scared of everything, and how her friend Barbara would help her be brave. I would add a little bit to the story each night, and it became a really sweet moment between us.
She even drew both Alison and Barbara on her arm so she could remember to be brave.
I decided to formally write the Alison and Barbara story because I saw my daughter become braver just by listening to a story about them. It was amazing to see the impact such a silly story had on her, and I'd love to see it help even one other child overcome their fears.
"Alison & Barbara In The Rainforest" is a 32-page children's book written in rhyme. It details who Alison is, what she fears most, how her friend Barbara helps her face her fears, and the transformation Alison undergoes as a result. It has already gone through multiple rounds of editing by a 3rd party editor, and we're currently trying to confirm the right illustrator.
Our second daughter hasn’t been diagnosed with type 1 yet, but we’re lucky enough to have time to prepare her for life with it. She sees how well our youngest handles it and though not excited, she is understanding that she can live a pretty normal life with diabetes.
And I haven’t read her the story of Alison & Barbara yet—it’s my dream to one day surprise her with the illustrated version. If you decide to pre-order the book you’ll help that dream come true. And maybe when you read the story to your kid, niece, nephew or grandchild they’ll learn to be brave too.
To be clear, our fundraising efforts are not an attempt to throw a pity-party. We have adjusted to life with a diabetic child, and we are fully anticipating raising two children with T1D. Though difficult, we are finding joy in the journey. Rather, our Kickstarter aims to help other children learn to face their fears through storytelling. I saw my daughter grow up in a big way thanks to this silly story, and if we can help other children face their fears or be a little braver, then we'll have succeeded in a big way.
We'd love your support, and we're excited to share the story of Alison & Barbara with the world!