It was Halloween 2013 and 9-year-old Willa Krase of Winona, Minn., was looking forward to trick-or-treating as a mummy. Unfortunately the day, as it turned out, held something far scarier for Willa and her family.
“For weeks Willa had been cranky, exhausted and extremely hungry and thirsty. We thought she was having a growth spurt and early teenager attitude,” recall her parents, Jill and Ethan Krase. “Eventually we knew something was wrong and took Willa to our pediatrician.” Jill continues, “The doctor said she would call the next day with test results, but 10 minutes after leaving, our phone rang. The doctor said to come right back.”
The news they got changed everything. With blood sugar levels more than twice the normal level, Willa was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. They were sent directly to the pediatric endocrinology team at Gundersen Health System in La Crosse, where Willa remained hospitalized for four days.
“Willa thought that after the first insulin shot she was cured. She didn’t understand at first that she’d need insulin for the rest of her life,” recount her parents. “After she got out of the hospital, Willa insisted on telling her class at school what was going on and everything she knew about diabetes. It was very brave of her.”
They eventually adjusted to the demands of a disease that requires much attention. Now Willa is able to manage her diabetes, needing little help from her parents.
For three years, Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals has provided support for Willa to attend diabetes camp. “It’s the only sleep-away camp Willa could safely attend and there she learns new self-care skills. At camp she can do all the things other kids do without being too distracted by diabetes,” Jill explains. “Without help from CMN Hospitals, we’d have to cut corners to pay all the fees ourselves.”
The Krases say, “Having children with serious chronic diseases is stressful, especially when the diseases need to be managed every day with no breaks…ever. Having CMN Hospitals reach out with help is very comforting and uplifting.”