WHEN little Sophie Smeaton started drinking a few more glasses of water a day than usual, mum Emma didn’t think too much about it.
But when the seven-year-old suddenly dropped a stone in weight while the family were on holiday abroad, Emma rushed her to her GP as soon as they were home.
She had no idea that the appointment would lead to her little girl being taken straight to hospital, where she stayed for a week after being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.
It means her pancreas no longer produces insulin, which is vital in enabling her body to use the energy provided by the food she eats.
Sophie developed the condition, which can be fatal if left unmanaged, after picking up a virus, which hadn’t even displayed any symptoms.
Emma said: “Sophie was diagnosed about a year ago now and it has been hard on all of us.
“She has to have insulin injections four times a day when she eats, and you have to judge the dose by the amount of food she is eating and the amount of energy she will use.
“The consequences of her having too much or not enough insulin could be fatal – it’s a difficult balance.
“But she has been very brave and within three months she was able to give herself the injections. Now we have a good routine, but it can still be difficult when our routine goes out the window.
“Her diagnosis has been very hard for all of us. When your child is ill with a lifelong thing like diabetes, it’s hard to get used to.
“To start with Sophie didn’t understand that she was always going to have it and would need the injections every day.”
Last week, Emma, who is co-director of Long Sutton Butterfly and Wildlife Park, invited representatives from Diabetes UK to share vital information about the condition with visitors to the park and the event attracted about 50 people.
There were also a number of kit suppliers on hand to talk about the latest developments in diabetes care.
During the event parents were able to have an informal chat with the experts while their children enjoyed the attractions on offer at the park.
Emma said: “Usually you only get the chance to talk to doctors during an appointment at the hospital, and often you have other children with you and you all just want to get out of there as quickly as possible.
“This event just gave people the chance to have a chat in a more relaxed situation while their children had fun. I found it very useful personally and I am sure a lot of the others did too.