Precocious Five Year Old Learns to Live With Diabetes

Tori Smith Armstrong
Tori Smith Armstrong

“It was a day that changed our lives forever,” Tori Armstrong said.  What she was talking about was the day the family received notification that their beautiful daughter Jayla was a type 1 diabetic. 

It was close to Memorial Day 2009 and Jayla had been unusually thirsty and tired as the holiday approached.  At the time Tori, and husband Erik, were also being kept busy caring for son Mason who had come down with the chicken pox.    But when Jayla eventually came down with an ear infection and wasn’t completely responding to medication the family rushed her to Elkhart General Hospital’s emergency room.  The ER docs were the first to suspicion that the little one was diabetic.   “ I remember it was Memorial Day, and we just couldn’t keep her awake, plus she had a high fever,” Tori said.  She still wasn’t responding well after being given an IV and insulin.  We were most afraid her organs were shutting down.”

After being rushed to Clarion North Hospital in Indianapolis, and brought back to health, the Armstrong family was given the news that as type 1 diabetic, insulin would have to be  administered on a daily basis throughout her life.  That’s because insulin is needed to allow glucose into the body’s cells, where it can be converted to energy.  With type 1 diabetes the insulin producing cells of the pancreas are destroyed.  At the moment there is no cure, so Jayla and the family have to manage her care with insulin therapy, and continuous monitoring of her glucose levels.

Her teachers and babysitters have learned the routine, and with an insulin pump Jayla is able to live a very normal life.  She even does the blood stick testing herself.  “Dance, IU Cheers and school takes up a lot of Jayla’s time ,” her mother said. “ Believe me she is very active, and as   you can see she’s a happy five year old.  We feel blessed.”  Jay Cutler of the Chicago Bears is her hero, and she has his picture on her bedroom wall.  “She’d really like to meet him someday,” mom whispered. 

Tori Armstrong is the former Tori Smith who is a 1998 graduate of Oregon-Davis High School. Husband Eric is a 1998 graduate of Kankakee Valley High School.  Her grandmother, Bonnie Smith, is a 40 year employee of Five Star in Knox.  “I have a hard time keeping up with her” grandma said with a smile on her face.

Over 3 million American’s have T1 diabetes, with 80 people a day diagnosed with the disease.  Those with the disease never forget about food.  It’s a 24/7/365 job.