Living with diabetes is all about constants.

To stay on top of type 1 diabetes, Jonathan Spurgeon, 14, checks his blood sugar at least seven times a day by pricking a finger. While his friends are chasing independence, a simple activity like swimming could cause his blood sugar to drop dangerously low.

Insulin injections are a necessary burden - he must check levels before he eats to work out the carbohydrates and administer accordingly.

Yet to an outsider he appears to be a normal teenage boy.


"Because he looks so healthy, people don't realise he also has a fainting disorder which is different to diabetes - if he hurts himself, his body's reaction is to faint, so that's another challenge," mother Karen Spurgeon said.

"His friends know that if he's swimming he has to check his bloods because he can't think straight, it drops his blood sugar so much."

There is no normal when it comes to diabetes, everyone reacts differently, so it was about getting to know what it meant for Jonathan.

When he was diagnosed at the age of 4, the news was "earth-shattering" for parents Karen and Brad.

There was no history in the family and while they understood the term, they were not equipped to deal with it.

"I knew about diabetes but we didn't know about it personally; it's like our world crumbled.

"I remember asking how long he had to live."

When Jonathan was about 5 they moved from a regular diabetes clinic to the care of doctor Janet Titchner and adopted an "American"-style flexible insulin regime.

That meant checking bloods constantly to stay ahead of any ups and downs, something Mrs Spurgeon credits for her son's good health. "We have had 24 hour a day access to Janet but because she's trained us so well I can't remember the last time we rang her. It's a very individual thing."

Despite it being under control, living with diabetes is difficult and never lets up - that's why the Spurgeon's are fundraising to send Jonathan to a type 1 camp in America, where he can bond with others dealing with the same thing. "They will be doing activities like walking a rope course but at the same time they are all living with diabetes."

His siblings have been busking in Hastings CBD and at rest homes, there will also be a family fundraising variety concert featuring Irish dancing, piano, singing and an appearance by Alex Wishart, from Hogsnort Robert.

The event is on May 23 from 4pm to 6pm at Hastings Baptist Church and tickets are $5 per person or $20 for a family on the door.

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