A Toddler’s Dangerously Starved Cells

gracie fletcher

“Gracie did not want to leave Florida”

At three years old, little Gracie had already been potty trained. When she began regressing, her mom thought she might have a simple bladder infection so she took her to the pediatrician. Gracie’s labs showed that her blood sugar levels were alarmingly high at 500; shocking news considering the norm is less than twice that number.

The toddler was immediately diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. As a child with type 1 diabetes eats, their food is broken down and sugar is released during digestion. Normally, the sugar is then absorbed into the bloodstream and carried out to the cells. In Gracie’s case, her pancreas doesn’t respond by making insulin. Her blood sugar is unable to move around properly, so her cells were literally starved for energy and made Gracie painstakingly tired.

As Gracie’s parents learned all of the grave details about their daughter’s illness, an endocrinologist showed them how to manage her condition. Gracie’s blood sugar levels must be checked when she eats, before bedtime and again at 2 a.m. every night. Her current form of treatment is an insulin pump that directly administers the medication into her body at the appointed times. As an extra precaution, Gracie’s mom always carries snacks in her purse to replenish Gracie’s sugar levels in case of emergency.

Three years later, when Gracie turned six, she received a second life-changing diagnosis. She now had celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder where the ingestion of gluten leads to damage of the small intestine. If Gracie were to continue to eat food such as bread, her body’s immune system would attack the lining of her small intestine, making it difficult for her body to absorb nutrients so she may grow. It would also put her at a high risk for developing multiple sclerosis, anemia, osteoporosis, infertility, epilepsy, and intestinal cancer. Currently, the only treatment for celiac disease is lifelong adherence to a strict gluten-free diet.

As her favorite show is watching the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, it was no surprise that Gracie wanted her wish to involve Disney World. And Sea World. And Universal Orlando. In fact, as her wish came true, her mother said “she didn’t want to leave the state of Florida!”
Seeing Sea World’s dolphins and whales up close were the highlight of her trip along with the one-on-one visits with Disney characters and surprise visits by the Snow Queen and the Snow Princess, provided to her courtesy of Orlando’s Once Upon a Party.

Gracie’s family was delighted with the accommodations at the Sheraton Vistana Resort & Villas, especially when they first opened their hotel room door and saw that Jillycakes had prepared a Funfetti Frozen cake for Gracie. Family meals during their Orlando adventure were graciously provided by Emeril’s, Garden Grove and Bahama Breeze.

Kids Wish Network would like to thank the following sponsors for helping make Gracie’s wish come true:
• Sheraton Vistana Resort & Villas
• Compassion Partners
• National Car Rental
• Jilly Cakes
• Garden Grove Restaurant
• Bahama Breeze
• Emeril’s
• Once Upon a Party
• Merlin’s Magic Wand


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