ILLNESS during the festive period can ruin a Christmas holiday, but Jack Burch, aged 15, has shown that with a few lifestyle tweaks, he can enjoy the season just as much as his friends.
Jack, from Coleford, was just 10 when his dad Chris noticed something wasn't quite right and began to get worried.
He was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes the day before Christmas Eve 2009, one of three million people to have the condition.
Chris and his wife, Lucy, who also has diabetes, but have learned to live with it.
Chris said: "Jack was diagnosed when he was just 10.
"I spotted signs of diabetes – he was constantly thirsty and going to the toilet. I had to persuade him to have his levels checked by me, it took me half an hour to coax him out of his bedroom.
"His blood glucose levels were at 27 so we took him to our GP, who sent him to hospital. He was only in for a day because the hospital was assured that as his mother also had diabetes, we could take care of him at home.
"Jack was very upset with his diagnosis. But then, within just a day, he came to terms with his condition. He knew there was no easy way out having seen his mum go through it, but I was so proud of him.
"Within a day he was checking his own levels and injecting himself and at such a young age.
"Lucy also helped him with injections, it was nice to have a mum so experienced with the condition. Jack's also on four injections a day now.
"Our life as a family since the diabetes diagnoses has changed dramatically. We're far more controlled about where we go and when and for how long.
"We can still do many of the same activities but we have to be much more prepared and controlled. We have to be prepared for hypos (hypoglycaemia, or low blood sugar(, which sometimes happens to my son and wife for reasons we cannot explain. Usually I can avoid taking them to hospital by sitting them down, giving them high-sugar products such as dextrose tablets and testing them."
Only six per cent of children and young people whose checks are being recorded are getting all of the recommended diabetes care, services and support they are entitled to. More than 85 per cent of children and young people over the age of 12 have blood glucose levels higher than the recommended targets.
Diabetes UK Groups run in the Forest of Dean, Gloucester and South Gloucestershire.
People can contact the Diabetes UK South West office on 01823 448260.
To find out more about the condition in children and young people, go online at diabetes.org.uk/get_involved/ campaigning/ type-1-essentials