Learn More About The Gidner Family & Type 1 Diabetes


The Gidner family has lived in San Elijo Hills for almost 10 years.  They bought their home before they had children in hopes of raising a family in this nice community.  They are both teachers for the SMUSD.  Damon Gidner teaches 2nd grade at San Elijo Elementary and Janet teaches 3rd grade a Carrillo Elementary.

They have a story they would like to share with their community.  Addison was born in January 2006.  She was a healthy baby girl with no complications.  Just a little over a year later, she was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.  She was only 15 months and could say a few words, such a momma, dada, doggy, wa wa (water).  She was very thirsty and her diapers would good full within an hour.  She was losing weight, slept a lot, occasionally vomit, and they feared something was wrong.  On a Monday morning, Addison kept babbling the words, “doctor, doctor”.  Seemingly strange, her mom listened to her repeat these words for hours, finally asking if she would like her to call the doctor.  He barely talking 15 month old daughter, said “Yes”.  They called and the pediatrician said to bring her in immediately.  Her blood glucose level was over 6 times the normal healthy number.  She was rushed to Children’s Hospital.  Their daughter was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes.  She was in critical condition and within a matter of hours/days; her body would have shut down due to organ failure.  Luckily, this little baby saved her own life and she got the care she needed with a team of doctors and nurses.  She spent 5 days at Rudy’s Children’s Hospital hooked up to equipment in a metal crib.   Her parents received a crash course of how to care of child with type 1 diabetes.  They were told they had to get blood from her finger tips every few hours and inject her with needles 3-4 times a day.  They were told how to keep their baby alive and healthy, but one wrong decision could be fatal.

The Gidners do not have a genetic link to diabetes.  This type of diabetes is caused by an auto-immune disease.  Addison’s own body attacked its pancreas and will never produce insulin again.  It is not caused by diet or lack of activity.  Addison will need her blood sugar constantly monitored (day and night), carbohydrates counted, and insulin injections for the rest of her life.  This is a life threatening, life altering disease with no cause or cure.

Fast forward 6 years and Addison is now in 2nd grade at San Elijo.  She is doing well and the staff tends to her needs and care throughout the day.  It is very helpful with her dad as a teacher on site.  Most parents with Type 1 children must stay with their children at school in the early years as no one is legally able to check blood sugar or administer insulin, unless you are a registered nurse.

It has been a rollercoaster of care for their daughter.  Type 1 diabetes has little rhyme or reason.  Because it is not caused by poor diet, Addison can eat like a typical child, but needs all her carbohydrates accounted for (even for grapes, corn, whole wheat bread, etc).  Her body does not produce the natural insulin needed to break down those carbohydrates into energy.  So they must measure what she eats and compare that to her recent blood sugar (finger prick) and calculate the dosage of insulin several times a day and night.  One wrong calculation could be detrimental or perhaps fatal to Addison.  The regiment is constantly changing due to growth, activity, illness, stress, and perhaps temperature/weather.  Also different carbohydrates react differently with each body.  They try to feed her a balanced amount of good carbs vs. kid carbs.  If they deny her too much, she could end up with other psychological problems later in life.  Type 1 families also heavily rely on fast acting sugars, such as juice, candy, applesauce, raisins etc.. These quick sugars save her life daily! Without these her blood sugar would plummet and she could have a seizure or suffer fatal consequences.

Addison is well rounded child. Many residents know her and love her.  She has many friends at San Elijo and takes this disease head on.  She is brave, knowledgeable and smart beyond her years.  She can check her own blood sugar and deliver insulin (with help from an adult).  She wears an insulin pump (Omnipod) which helps deliver insulin though a small machine attached to her body.  Her parents change the equipment every 3 days to avoid infection and give her fresh supply of insulin.  Addison also has a CGM -Continuous Glucose Monitor (Dexcom).  She wears this on her arm and it provides a safety net for blood sugar trends of too high or too low.  Her CGM equipment is changed by her parents every week.  She still gets her finger poked throughout the day and night to provide a more accurate Blood Glucose level.  She wears a fanny pack with her equipment and fast acting glucose to keep her safe. She also plays AYSO soccer, so you may have seen her on the field.

The Gidners also have a 2 year old son.  They were finally feeling they could tread water and keep their daughter in somewhat of appropriate healthy range when their worst nightmare came to life.  Last March, their 28 month old son, Nolan was diagnosed with the same disease.  They caught it earlier on, because they knew the symptoms all too well with Addison.

Having a child with type 1 is extremely rare, yet it could happen to ANY family.  Having a 2nd child is like getting struck by lightning twice.  Nolan had a 95% chance of avoiding this auto-immune disease.  Remember, it is NOT linking to diet/activity (such as type 2 diabetes).  Many people think the Gidners might have done something wrong, but that is the farthest thing from the truth.  Their children were only fed healthy food as babies.  Their small bodies somehow went haywire and attacked the organ needed for blood sugar control.

Insulin keeps their children alive and they are grateful.  However it is not a cure.  Low blood sugars lead to seizure or death.  Their children’s blood sugar goes low a few times and day and night and they must rescue them with juice, etc.  High blood sugars lead to organ failure later in life, such as loss of limbs, heart failure, etc.  Their children have high blood sugars every day.  They try their best to manage this untamable disease, but it is a constant battle. Only trained family/friends can care for their children because of the constant worry of unbalanced blood sugar levels.  Their children’s endocrinologist (diabetes doctor) commends the parents for blood glucose control, because she knows how unpredictable this disease can be.

The Gidners need your help.  A cure is around on the corner, but funding is needed.  Their children are candidates for artificial pancreas.  It is currently being trialed by type 1 patients and will be hopefully available within 5 years.  Also, a treatment drug for tuberculosis, might possibly be a link to help restore cells for people living with type 1 diabetes.  It allows them to be free of this disease for a week at a time. Another possibility for a better quality of life is a product called a BioHub.  It is a potential surgical procedure for their children.  Doctors would insert a safe hub into their type 1 bodies and then inject the insulin producing cells back into their body, stored and shielded from future auto-immune attacks.  Sounds like science fiction, but these are true miracles headed their way.  These treatments, equipment, procedures are still years away, but the potential is there.  A cure is in the making for sure!  It has become a RACE for the cure, but all these programs/scientists need funding.  Someday their child will live free of this potentially deadly disease. Please help them by making a tax deductible contribution to:

JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation)

c/o Addison’s Army

5665 Oberlin Drive

San Diego, CA 92121

You can also sign up for the WALK TO CURE TYPE 1 DIABETES.  It is November 9th and more information can be found at “JDRF Walk San Diego 2013”.

You can also follow their story on Facebook.  “Mom of Two Type 1 Kids”.  You can see videos, pictures, and a documentary of their story.



Symptoms: extreme thirst, frequent urination, nausea, lethargy, weight loss.


  • Type 1 is rare.  The cause is unknown and occurs in about 1 in 700 children (and some adults).
  • Diet and exercise (or lack of) – DO NOT cause type 1.  They can not “cure” type1 with these either.  No matter what they do, they will always have type 1.
  • It is an autoimmune disease (such as rheumatoid arthritis or MS).  Their body attacked its insulin producing cells and type 1’s will NEVER produce insulin again.
  • We need insulin to regulate our blood sugar.  Normal blood glucose for you is about 100.
  • They do not believe Type 1 to be genetic.  (In fact, we have no history of diabetes in our family!)

Daily Regimen

  • Our children get their finger poked 12 times a day to get blood glucose (BG) reading.
  • We check to try to keep their blood glucose in an appropriate range of 80-150.
  • We count every carbohydrate they eat. 
  • Their BG (blood glucose) levels go low at least 2-3 times per day.  We must provide juice or other carbohydrates to bring it up.  If too low, they could have a seizure; go into a coma or death. 
  • If their levels go to high, we must correct with insulin injections.  If they are too high too often, we are decreasing their life span or risking organ failure. 
  • We check BG levels all through the night as well and make adjustments.
  • Their lows have been in the 20’s and as high as 700.  It is an unpredictable, yet somewhat treatable disease. 
  • Exercise, sicknesses, stress all effect their BG numbers.  Sometimes it makes them low, sometimes high. 
  • My best analogy is it is like trying to kindle a fire.  Adding wood, spraying water, etc. – constantly to keep the “fire at the best temperature”.  Except it is our children’s life that is on the line!
  • We are acting as our children’s pancreas 24/7 doing calculation after calculation…so yes students, math is important!  J
  • 2/3 of the time, no matter how diligent or hard we try…their BG level is off. 
  • Because we have the latest technology, we (as parents) change their infusion sites every few days.  This keeps them from developing infections or scar tissue.  These site changes are often painful and take both parents to hold the child down.  We can do this because we know it helps them in the long run!

Other Interesting Facts

  • Our kids eat like other kids!  We don’t have them on strict diet, because food did not cause their type 1.  It helps EVERYONE to eat healthy…however they are kids, so desserts (carbs accounted for) are okay – in moderation of course. J
  • Sugar-free foods do not help type 1 diabetics.  In fact, we try to steer clear from them as most parents do.
  • There is currently no cause or cure for type 1 diabetes.
  • Type 1 has very little in common with type 2 diabetes…in fact; it is my life goal to change the name of it!  Type 2 diabetes usually can be being stabilized with diet, exercise, and oral meds.
  • It is extremely rare for a sibling of a type 1 to develop Type 1…only 5 %.
  • Optimistically, we felt good our son had 95% chance of avoiding this disease.  Statistics… however, our not on our side. L

The Good News

  • Our children are so amazing and are adjusting to their new lives.  Addison wants to be a diabetes educator someday.  Nolan loves showing off his new equipment to others.
  • Both our kids have insulin pumps and a continuous glucose monitor.  This is the latest technology.  They help but cannot be fully trusted at this point, but we are hopeful of future equipment!
  • Scientists have figured a way to inject these insulin producing cells back into the body to regulate blood sugar.  The body however attacks itself again, hence auto-immune disease.
  • An artificial pancreas is in “human trials” at the moment.  This is an external, somewhat bulky devise our children WILL wear in the next 5 years.
  • If this makes you really excited about science, you should do a Google search for BioHub.  We are confident within 10 years our children will see a “cure” for type 1.  It is shielded mini-organ placed in their body which will store insulin producing cells, yet ward off the auto-immune destroying cells.  Amazing!



  • Wow. The Gidners are super parents! I had gestational diabetes and am pre diabetic. I have a 5 week old and can’t even imagine what they are going through. I’ll definitely make a contribution. I wonder if they’ve thought about getting a diabetes dog (dog trained to detect low blood sugars)?

    • Thank you Jackie! We appreciate you taking the time to read our story. With your help we WILL find better treatments and a cure for type 1. We have considered a service dog, but we would need two! Most agencies charge $10,000 or more for this life saving “family member”…can’t call him a pet, because his job is greater than that! Thanks again for your care for our family.

  • I read your story with profound interest – my granddaughter presented T1 at 11 months and is now 5 years old. Her parents go about life as normal, managing her T1 life and make adjustments as needed. It is an ongoing balancing act. My granddaughter is the bravest and most patient person I will ever know. Thank you for your story and educating those who don’t understand T1 and T2 are completely different beasts. We participate in JDRF walks and pray for a cure very soon for this devastating condition. God bless your family.

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