Madeline Liegois was a typical, healthy third-grade girl. Then she began to feel tired, thirsty, and complain of a stomachache. Shortly after that, her parents and doctors found that she had lost 20 pounds.

Parents Jason and Laura Liegois worked with the doctors to find what was wrong. After a series of blood panels, the family was directed to the University of Iowa for follow-up testing.

Madeline was diagnosed Type 1 diabetes at the age of eight. While the diagnosis was a shock to the family at first, Laura says the family came to embrace the challenges and learn how to deal with them.  “Initially our extended family’s reaction was to remove all sugars or carbs, things like pie, from all family gatherings. But Madi loves pie, and sentencing her to a life without it seemed cruel. She still eats what she loves, and adjusts her intake accordingly.”

It was also very important to her parents that Madeline learn to manage her condition and to really take ownership of treatment. Jason and Laura have worked with the school district to allow the now-fourteen-year-old freshman to be able to test as needed and administer her own insulin. Laura says, “We really have to commend the school district. We have had some great school nurses who work well with Madi in helping her to understand her health plan. She checks in regularly with the nurse to make sure everything is okay.”

Laura says the goal is for Madeline to feel equipped and empowered when it comes time for her to move out on her own. This includes both managing her health plan and her ability to prepare food for herself. “Madi also has a great group of friends who are very supportive. She is comfortable with testing and administering her insulin.”

The entire family is more aware of what goes into their food, Laura says, reading labels, measuring serving sizes, and meal planning. “Mostly, for us it comes down to maintaining a schedule and allowing Madi to listen to her body.”