Story of Healing
Even though Demetrios Reichenau’s parents, Sofia and Matthew, knew there was a chance their son would become diabetic, they were not prepared for how soon in his life that diagnosis would come.
Demetrios, or “Deme,” was born on November 5, 2018, and right before his first birthday, he came down with a what his parents describe as a horrible virus. A few days later, he began acting lethargic and was having other issues like increased urination and other unusual behaviors.
Deme’s father and grandmother are both Type 1 diabetics, so as a precaution, Deme’s father checked his blood sugar levels and sure enough, they were extremely high. Deme’s parents immediately took him to West Jefferson Medical Center, and on November 18, just weeks after turning one, Deme was diagnosed with diabetes, a serious autoimmune disease in which the pancreas stops producing insulin, which is the essential hormone that allows glucose to provide energy to the body.
Due to Deme’s high levels and declining condition, he was immediately transferred to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) at Children’s Hospital New Orleans.
Life forever changed for the Reichenau family, shared Deme’s mother, Sofia.
“I’m very thankful that we had background knowledge and experience with diabetes, so my husband and mother-in-law knew what to expect, knew the things we needed to do to care for Deme, and I was able to learn quickly as well,” recalled Sofia. “Having a diabetic baby is a whole different ball game, every little thing can impact their little bodies.”
“Dealing with type 1 diabetes in a child is not an easy task, and even with current insulins and technology, small children with diabetes are prone to more fluctuations in blood glucoses that older children mostly due to their variable levels of activity and eating patterns,” explains Dr. Ricardo Gomez. “Deme’s parents have done a super job by being a very active part of the diabetes management team and being able to prevent hypoglycemia by staying alert and quickly acting and making interventions when needed”
Deme just recently turned three years old and is approaching the two-year mark of living with diabetes, but it’s still a rollercoaster of monitoring levels, adjusting insulin doses, and carb counting, explains Sofia.
“I’ve had many sleepless nights checking his levels regularly and making sure he’s feeling okay,” shared Sofia. “While we’re definitely adjusting, it’s definitely taken a toll on all of us, and it’s been a very stressful journey.”
Dr. Ricardo Gomez, a Pediatric Endocrinologist at Children’s, has cared for Deme since his diagnosis. Along with Dr. Gomez, Sofia shared that she is incredibly grateful to Caroline, Marcella and Monique who serve endocrinology patients and have cared for Deme for the last two years. Deme and his family go to Children’s every three months for bloodwork, insulin adjustments, and other regular checkup procedures.
“Since his diagnosis, Deme is really starting to flourish,” shared Sofia. “Despite struggling with some developmental delays, which are normal for babies with autoimmune diseases, Deme is a happy-go-lucky child who is very sweet and loving. He will be starting school in a few weeks, and his parents are really impressed with how far he’s come and can’t wait to see his adventure continue.”
Learn more about Children’s Hospital New Orleans’ Endocrinology team, its services, and its providers here.