Special young patient back to being a kid after diabetes treatment
Nine-year-old Lucas was at one of the happiest places on earth when his family started noticing concerning changes in his health.
The Bratchers were enjoying a family vacation at Disney World when Lucas began feeling tired, unusually thirsty and needed to use the bathroom more frequently than normal.
When the Bratchers returned home from Florida, Lucas’ mom, Danielle, turned to their pediatrician for help after spending hours online searching for answers. Expecting to hear Lucas had a urinary tract infection, when his pediatrician ran bloodwork and found that Lucas blood sugar and A1C were abnormal, his parents were shocked.
Lucas returned to his pediatrician the next day for more testing, through which it was discovered his blood sugar had spiked to 1,100 mg/dL. Lucas’ pediatrician called his endocrinology contact at UK HealthCare to tell them Lucas was on his way to the hospital; he was going into diabetic ketoacidosis and was quickly admitted to the Pediatric Emergency Room. Diabetic ketoacidosis is a potentially life-threatening condition that can occur when your blood sugar is too high for too long.
Lucas was terrified. His healthcare team ran several tests and began giving him insulin. They admitted him to Kentucky Children’s Hospital, where he was officially diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.
“I was worried he wouldn’t be a normal kid. I was afraid of the change that would come,” Danielle said. “I was afraid we could never leave him alone. But it has not slowed him down.”
With the help of the University of Kentucky Barnstable Brown Diabetes Center, Lucas received diabetes education and handled his diagnosis like a champ. He follows up with his provider, Leslie Scott, APRN, every three months to ensure he is properly managing his condition. His diabetes educators, Angela Hepner and Andrea Francis, provide him the tools and confidence he needs to keep his condition in check.
“Lucas does not let his diabetes slow him down. When he comes to the clinic and we are reviewing his blood glucose levels and insulin dosages, he is so excited to tell me about which activity, snack or meal item might have contributed to each glucose level or insulin dose need,” Leslie Scott said.
Lucas and his family keep track of his blood sugar levels with the help of a cell phone app that connects to his continuous glucose monitoring system. Danielle gets notifications when his blood sugar spikes and drops so she can check on him even when he is at school. Lucas is mostly self-sufficient when it comes to managing his diabetes at school: when he gets an alert, he gets a snack or goes to the nurse to get what he needs to keep his blood sugar under control.
“What people don’t realize with type 1 diabetes is that it doesn’t matter what he eats. It is an auto immune disease, meaning his pancreas has completely quit and will never work again,” Danielle said. “Most of the time, he is a normal 10-year-old boy who plays little league football, fights with his sisters and goes to school. Other days, his sugar isn’t stable, and we are fighting highs and treating lows.”
Lucas has not let his diagnosis prevent him from doing what he loves. He enjoys helping his dad on the family’s 1,200-acre farm. He is an active kid who loves playing football, hunting and building Legos. The most important thing to the Bratchers is helping Lucas be a normal kid. Aside from sugary sodas, Lucas mostly eats the same food he did before his diagnosis.
In October 2023 during a UK football game, Lucas helped highlight facts about type 1 diabetes in front of 61,000 people at Kroger Field. As the Kentucky Children’s Hospital Lift Them Up Kid of the Game, Lucas rode down the Cat Walk in a custom cart while fans cheered him on before the game. Lucas’ happy demeaner and enchanting grin inspired thousands of fans.
“He does everything he did before,” Danielle said. “It hasn’t really changed anything.”
Learn more about how we care for kids like Lucas at the UK Barnstable Brown Diabetes Center.