Maple to the Rescue! Part 2: Corrine White
Corinne White is a vibrant 11-year-old from Vermont. She enjoys traveling, reading, running, art, and caring for animals as she has dogs, sheep, chickens and ducks. Growing up her favorite food groups were sushi, steak, and sweets, but about a year ago Corrine started having symptoms that indicated that something was medically wrong.
With her father, Josh, being an emergency room doctor, and her mother Kim being in the health and fitness industry the symptoms that she was having started adding up. After watching Corrine drink six to eight glasses of water at dinner alarm bells starting going off in Josh's head. Being the doctor on call that night in the emergency room meant that Corrine was now his patient and when her labs came back it was undeniable. Josh had the extremely difficult and emotional task of sharing the diagnosis of Type 1 Diabetes to Corrine, his wife Kim, and his son Broder. We caught up with Josh and Kim to explore how Corrine remains positively active despite her diagnosis.
For anyone, especially a young girl this is difficult news. How did this diagnosis change her life and your families?
Josh: We were faced with realization that your perfect child has a chronic illness that will forever impact her daily life, as well as potentially threaten her health and life. It’s horrible and it rocked our foundation. As a parent, you are supposed to shield your children from danger. You are supposed to protect your children keep them from harm. They are innocent and they rely on you for everything. Then one day you’re crying in the ER while nurses are sticking her full of needles and hanging medications in IVs. Despite knowing there was nothing you could have done; it felt like failure.
We already ate healthy and had a fairly low carb diet, so that wasn’t a big transition for daily meals from us. But it altered social reward systems. As a family, we quickly decided that everything was now different for all of us. We weren’t making rules just for Corinne. We were now going to eat as if we were all diabetic. And of course, there are the daily shots, and the incredibly unfair responsibility that has now been heaped upon 10-year old (at the time) shoulder. Watch everything you put in your mouth and the impact on your sugars. Don’t eat the stuff your friends do. Don’t sneak anything. Do a math problem before every meal. Have a treat, pay for it with a needle. Like every little girl, she struggles to fit in, struggles with self-confidence, struggles with anxiety about the world and all the challenges it brings. This added a huge amount to her burden.
Kim: It has been very hard to see our children be forced to grow up faster than we planned. It's also been powerful to see Corinne thrive, watching her teach her peers and our family members about her disease and what she needs, and about her healthy lifestyle. We've been so proud seeing her stand by her choices to stay as healthy as she can, and owning her sadness, grief, and frustrations regarding being dealt this hand of bad luck.
It sounds like a lot to keep track of. How does Corrine monitor her blood glucose levels?
Josh: Corrine has a continuous glucose monitor that is attached to her belly. There’s a wire under her skin that checks her sugar every 5 minutes. This communicates to her iPhone and Apple watch where she can see the number as well as the trend. The sensor has to be changed every 10 days, and we can use finger-sticks to check the accuracy if we need to. She has to wear the sensor as well as always have the watch and iPhone with her to make it work. The iPhone is locked, as we had never intended to let her have access to that kind of technology this early, but she still has to have it with her and charged at all times.
When sugar levels start to drop what UnTapped products does Corrine rely on to help keep her back in the appropriate range?
Josh: When Corrine’s sugars get really low, the Maple UnTapped 100% pure organic maple syrup can get her out of trouble quick. The waffles are more useful for mild lows and longer-term balance and she her favorite is the Raspberry UnTapped Waffle. She also likes using them for maintaining her levels when she exercises. She has learned to nibble and balance her calorie/sugar intake with the rate she is burning energy. She has gotten quite good at it, and has also learned to use exercise to balance out the highs instead of insulin. It’s not unusual to see her in a corner doing jumping jacks because she wants her sugar down.
Why has your family chosen products Untapped products over other options?
Josh: Corinne used to drink maple syrup right out of the container in the fridge... pre-diabetes, obviously. It was an easy and obvious transition. She’s commented that other gels taste weird. The packets are easy, portable, don’t go bad even in temperature extremes, and we can scatter them everywhere in our lives so they are available in an emergency. It’s particularly useful at night, when her sugars will tend to dip low. At 2 AM, when we’re trying to wake her up to take some calories, something that is easy for her and she likes and can down quickly is a big deal, as she does not wake easily. Items like crackers or a glass of milk are a fight in the middle of the night. Syrup is not.
We've seen some amazing pictures of Corrine out in the mountains this summer. Can you tell us about your hut-to-hut traverse in New Hampshire's White Mountains?
Josh: I take people backpacking in the summer as a fundraiser for my work in Haiti. Corinne has always wanted to go. We had a long conversation this winter about it. She could be invited if she managed herself well and, of course, this included managing her sugars. She also had to agree to train, and she did. She trained for a 5k in the spring and after completing that, we did a summit or two every week until the trip.
We did the Presidential traverse over 4 days, summiting every peak but Jackson (thwarted by weather). She earned the nickname "Jelly Bean" for her glucose management strategy, always having candy or a waffle to nibble on and keep her sugars where they needed to be. She was beautiful and perfect, braving through high-winds and white out conditions, and encouraging other people along the way.
Mountains fuel her soul and you can see it when she’s in the alpine. She lights up, powers through 9-hour days on the trail, manages sometimes ridiculous conditions, and does it with joy and gratitude. I also believe that mountains give her something tangible to point to… the summits and ridges. She did that. She got herself up there and did something hard. Nobody carried her or did it for her and nobody can debate that she does it better and faster than a lot of others out there. Feeling strong and powerful is a big deal to an anxious little girl who feels different and insecure a lot.
It sounds like Corrine is really finding herself and isn’t letting anything stand in her way. What adventure is Corrine dreaming about next?
Kim: Last fall she was incredibly afraid to run the soccer field much because she was acclimating to the feelings of real sugar fluctuations, and was especially afraid to become low with exertion. She held herself back in gym class all last year after her diagnosis. This year, she is considering skipping fall soccer, but for all the right reasons! She wants to replace soccer days with something she is fully passionate about, trail running with her dad. She is no longer afraid of going deep up in the mountains. She knows between having her dad there, and a rescue plan for low sugar (UnTapped!) she is going to be more than alright if she pushes herself. She will thrive.
Josh: Lately we have been bantering about the TransRockies run. She has seen the photos from my adventures, and if they will let somebody her age in, I would love to share that adventure with her. Maybe in the next couple of years. If not, we will find something else.