Parents seek support from city
to help in daughter's care
By Stephen P. Clark, Staff Writer, December 7, 2007
STAMFORD - The Robottis were devastated to learn in March that their 6-year-old daughter, Madison, had juvenile diabetes.
xxx"I was heartbroken," Michelle Robotti said. "I still can't speak about it without getting emotional."
xxx Cris Robotti said that once he calmed down, he realized he and Michelle didn't know much about diabetes. It could have been worse, he said.
xxx But the Robottis didn't know how much their lives were about to change.
xxx Madison, now 7, receives three insulin injections every day - once in the morning and twice at dinnertime. Her sugar level is checked by finger pricks up to six times a day. Her diet consists of three meals and three snacks a day that must include the right balance to avoid low or high blood sugar.
xxxMadison's "life has changed dramatically," Michelle Robotti said.
xxx The Robottis, who also have a 4-year-old son and a 2-year-old daughter, used to live a more spontaneous lifestyle, they said. Now they plan all their activities, including running errands, to ensure Madison has enough insulin.
xxx"It has hindered our ability to live a life that most people take for granted," Cris Robotti said.
xxx Madison feels different, too.
xxx"She has made comments before like, 'Why do I have diabetes?' and 'I hate diabetes,' " Michelle Robotti said.
xxx Madison is among an estimated 1 to 2 million Americans with Type 1 diabetes, a metabolic disorder in which the body struggles to regulate its blood glucose. People with diabetes have to take insulin to live.
xxx There is no cure for Type 1 diabetes and its cause is unknown. Researchers believe genetic and environmental factors are involved. Nearly 20 million Americans suffer from Type 2 diabetes, which is connected to obesity and lack of exercise.
xxx The Robottis are among the Catholic school parents and administrators seeking more nursing coverage from the city for private or religious schools. At Madison's school, Our Lady Star of the Sea Catholic School, the city provides a nurse to the school once a week.
xxx"When there is a nurse," Michelle Robotti said, "I don't have to go to school."
xxx On the four days when there isn't a nurse, Robotti makes from three to six visits to the school to check Madison's glucose levels. She spends from five to 30 minutes on each visit, depending on how long it takes to regulate Madison's blood sugar level.
xxxFull-time school nursing coverage "would take the fear I feel every day for my daughter without a full-time nurse," Michelle Robotti said. "It would relieve a lot of stress in my life. . . . It's taken a complete toll on me."
xxxCris Robotti said nursing coverage for even three days a week would return some normalcy to their lives and "allow my wife to be a mother to our children again."
xxx But the Robottis are facing an uphill task in seeking more nursing coverage at their daughter's school.
xxx City officials say juvenile diabetes does not require increased nursing coverage.
xxx"That child doesn't go to a home that has a nurse," Mayor Dannel Malloy said about students with the disease. "There's not a nurse at the movies. It's incumbent upon us and, we're more than willing, to train principals, teachers and other personnel on how, in this case, insulin would be administered."
xxx The Robottis said they considered transferring Madison to public schools, where there is full-time nursing coverage, but they didn't want to remove her from an environment where she is comfortable and excelling academically.
xxx Besides that, they said, they are taxpayers saving the city money by sending Madison to Catholic school.
xxx"The money we save the city," Cris Robotti said, "we're asking for a very small portion of it back."
Copyright © 2007, Southern Connecticut Newspapers, Inc.