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Levi's story: 5 shots a day for a 5 year-old

By KYLIE BEARSE
Published On: Apr 26 2013 05:30:58 AM CDT
Updated On: May 27 2013 05:37:08 PM CDT

At only five years-old, Levi Despain is learning to give himself daily shots. But each poke and finger prick is bringing his family closer together.

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah -

Taking the kids to get kindergarten shots can be a bit traumatizing for the little ones, sometimes more so for the parents. Imagine finding out during that experience, you will have to re-live it every day for the rest of your life.

That’s the reality for one eastern Idaho family.

Levi Despain handles a needle as if it is normal for a 5-year-old.

“These are the shots,” Levi said. “Then the blood goes on this thing.”

“He struggles with it for one moment and in the next he’s OK with it,” said dad, Travis.

Levi has Type 1 diabetes. His body doesn’t produce insulin, which converts food into energy.

“His energy wasn't very good,” said mom, Betsy. “He was drinking a lot.”

“We just knew something was going on just had no clue what it was,” said Travis.

Then his doctor in eastern Idaho was able to figure it out.

“(It was a) huge change. He was a little bit traumatized by his kindergarten shots and then to find out the next day you were going to have to have shots the rest of your life,” said Betsy.

Spring break plans changed in a moment. No more hotel room in Salt Lake City, instead they checked into Primary Children’s Medical Center.

“That first night was probably the toughest night of my entire life,” said Travis. “It's easy for us as adults to think, oh we can get pokes in our arm and it's really not a big deal, but to try to do it to your 5 year-old and watch your wife struggle, that was tough.”

“The nurses have been awesome, the doctors have been awesome,” said Betsy. “They're there to cry with you and hug you when you need it. They're amazing.”

With each shot, things started to get easier, and Levi gets about five shots a day.

“I’m getting used to it,” said Levi. From a finger prick for each of the kids to everyone’s diet changing, this family of six grew closer together.

“It was hard,” said Levi’s sister, Keri. “We're used to eating whatever we want and we're used to just going in and pulling something out of the fridge. And we can't do that.”

Their reward? The Levi they know is back

“It’s been fun,” said Travis. “It feels like he's back a little bit.”

Levi’s lunchbox will look a little different when he makes it to kindergarten next year – packed with needles next to a few snacks – but he’ll have a whole new lesson to teach his classmates.

To learn more about Type 1 diabetes, visit http://www.diabetes.org/diabetes-basics/type-1/

All month long we'll be introducing you to eastern Idaho kids who have fought health battles across state lines at Primary Children's Medical Center. 

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