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UV Hospital’s children’s unit makes Type 1 diabetes less drastic of a life change

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When Haley Hales learned she had Type I diabetes, she was able to receive all of her training at Utah Valley Hospital. (Photo courtesy Jill Hales)

When Haley Hales learned she had Type I diabetes, she was able to receive all of her training at Utah Valley Hospital. (Photo courtesy Jill Hales)

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Essentially life was perfect for Haley Hales.

She had been attending school, playing on her volleyball team and going about her life like a regular teenager. But a trip to Washington with her mom showed minor signs that something wasn’t right.

On the trip, Haley’s mom, Jill Hales, noticed that Haley was drinking a lot of water, urinating frequently and had a headache. She thought it might be the elevation difference from dropping to sea level in Washington, but when they returned to Utah and these symptoms persisted, Jill knew something wasn’t right.

Jill, a medical assistant at Utah Valley Hospital, had recently read a story about a girl who had gone into a coma from Type 1 diabetes. While Haley wasn’t throwing up, Jill recognized that these subtle symptoms might be signs of diabetes.

After getting Haley’s finger pricked by her neighbor and having it read high three times, Jill called Dr. Russell Osguthorpe, the pediatric medical director at Utah Valley Hospital, and he told her, “Jill, you just diagnosed your daughter.”

On March 16, 2015, Haley was officially diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.

“Diabetes is something you have to manage every day and every week,” Jill said.

Haley spent three days in the hospital learning to give herself insulin shots and receiving instructions on how to care for her diabetes. As she learned these lessons, Haley was well taken care of both physically and mentally with things to do by the staff at UVH PCH network.

“Haley will tell you she enjoyed the fact that there were child life specialists at the hospital,” Jill said. “It was nice to have a supportive staff to keep her active while she was there getting training and education and to keep her mind off of her new diagnosis.”

Plus, Haley’s family and friends from Spanish Fork could come and visit Haley during her stay at the hospital.

“It’s reassuring to know that if your child gets sick and needs a PCH specialist, you have all your resources in Utah County,” said Travis, Haley’s father.

Not only did having the Primary Children’s Network in Utah County help with proximity, but the Hales were grateful they didn’t have to take off time from work and school to drive to Salt Lake.

It was also a relief to learn from the diabetic educators that Haley would be able to do everything she used to do.

“We have become close to Ben and Thomas (diabetic educators) because they were there with us in the hospital,” Jill said. “It’s a good resource for us. It’s nice to have someone down here to talk to.”

With a diagnosis of Type I diabetes, the Hales thought Haley’s life was going to change drastically. However, the hospital helped them realize that the only real change in Haley’s life was a lot more planning ahead.

“It was nice to have a supportive staff to keep her active while she was there getting training and education and to keep her mind off of her new diagnosis.” —Jill Hales, medical assistant at Utah Valley Hospital 

“They think they have to change their lives, but she will be able to eat like she always has. Haley now has to take a bag everywhere she goes,” Jill said. “She has to have her insulin with her. She has to have treats with her.”

Now managing her diabetes is part of her daily life, and Haley has learned from this experience. After getting out of the hospital, Haley posted on her Instagram account: “I want to be that girl that makes your bad days better and the one that makes you say, ‘My life has changed since I met her.”

For Jill, that post was a testament to the dedicated and caring work the doctors and staff gave her daughter during her stay at Utah Valley Hospital.

Because of Utah Valley Hospital’s pediatric care, Haley is still attending school, playing on her volleyball team and going about her life like a regular teenager. Diabetes isn’t the end, it’s now just another beginning.

Learn more about Utah Valley Hospital’s pediatric care at intermountainhealthcare.org

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