Wednesday, January 14, 2009


As most of you know by now, I'm not blogging as much as I used to. Our family is getting our home ready to receive foster children this year. There is much to be done.

In the process of becoming foster parents it is required that everyone in our household have a physical examination. I've been busy taking all of our children to the doctor. The twins needed their 5 year shots, Kazz needed a booster and Vinnie was pretty well up to date with all of his requirements. All were healthy and there was nothing to make me think that Brise would be any different.

Last Monday I took Brise in to see our pediatrician. I expected to be in and out of there in a little over an hour just like we were with the rest of the boys. Little did I know that we would have a life changing experience that day. Please know that it could have been MUCH worse but that day did change our lifestyle, for the better.

We went in and Brise hopped up on the counter. The nurse took him out to weigh him and log his height. Brise is tall for his age. He's 5'6" tall, 11 years old and wears a size 13 shoe. When they came back into the room she took his blood pressure.

"hmm...let me do that again" She took it again.
"hmmm...this cuff isn't working correctly." She took the cuff off, left the room and came back with another cuff. She installed it and took his blood pressure again.

"His blood pressure is high." She said, and promptly left the room.

I had a hard time processing that. I was wondering how an 11 year old could have high blood pressure. She walked out the door before I could ask how high.

We go to a teaching pediatrician so the first doctor to walk in the door was just on his second day of rounds. He was nervous so we chatted a bit and I tried to answer all of his OVERLY thorough questions. We were questioned to ad nauseum...or so I thought. Little did I know that he had spotted something right away that caused him to ask so many questions.

He walked out the door and immediately came back in with a third year doctor. She began talking as if I knew what the heck she was talking about. She began talking about diabetes and how we need to change our eating.

"I see here that you drink soft drinks in your home. Those need to be stricken from your diet Brisan. Do you understand that?"

My head was swimming. What is she talking about?!

She then began explaining what foods we need to eat and how much. She talked and talked. She handed Brise literature. She talked some more. She handed me literature.

What is going on here? They haven't even looked in his ears yet!! I am very seldom at a loss for words. This day, I was lost.

They left the room. I could see that my son was on the verge of tears. I WAS on the verge of tears. Neither one of us could understand "Why" They were, all of the sudden, ranting about food and sugar levels and diabetes. I explained to Brise that if there is a problem with his blood sugar that we can certainly change our eating habits. I told him that he would NOT do this alone and our entire family would be on board with any diet changes.

The next doctor to walk in, THANK GOD, was our pediatrician. She's so gentle, sweet and knows just what to say to help her patients stay calm and understand what is going on.

"Hello agian. Aren't you tired of seeing me yet? Is this the last son?"

"Yes," I said. "What's going on? Do we need to be worried here? Does he have diabetes? How do you know that without a test?"

Those who know me in person, KNOW that those questions came tumbling out of my mouth before she could get a word in edgewise. I needed answers, NOW!

"Do you see these marks here on his neck?"

"Yes, I keep telling him to wash it but even when I try to wash his neck it won't go away."

"That's Acanthosis Nigricans. That is a marker for diabetes. If he does not have it, he's on his way to getting it. In adults the marks begin on the armpits or groin."

My jaw fell. I nearly cried right there but I held it together. I saw slight marks like that on Kazz's arms. Not dark, just light. Now, She had my attention.

Long story short, Brise had a LOT of blood drawn the next day. (9 viles) He does NOT have diabetes yet, but was diagnosed with insulin resistance. His Insulin level is quite high. You can bet, dear reader, that our eating habits have changed. We are on a schedule and we've bought more fruits and veggies than this house has ever seen. I am on a search for a diabetic brownie. If you have any great diabetic dessert recipes, we're all ears in this household!

They are going to monitor his blood pressure. We'll be heading back to the doc in a few weeks. I thank God that we caught this before it turned into diabetes. I hope this post will help another mother do the same for her family.

If you recognize these markings on any of your family members, or a lighter version of them that fade and come back, you'll want to read this information.


Acanthosis Nigricans is a disorder that may begin at any age. It causes velvety, light-brown-to-black, markings usually on the neck, under the arms or in the groin. Eating too much of the wrong foods, especially starches and sugars, can cause insulin resistance. This will result in elevated insulin levels. Most patients with Acanthosis Nigricans have a higher insulin level than those of the same weight without Acanthosis Nigricans. Elevated levels of insulin in most cases probably cause Acanthosis Nigricans. The elevated insulin levels in the body activates insulin receptors in the skin, forcing it to grow abnormally. Reducing the circulating insulin by dieting or medication can lead to improvement of the skin problem.


Mark said...

One of my friend has this problem.Now I got what it is.I will recommend her to read your article.

healthcare training

Angelwings said...

I'm so glad that you posted this. Almost every one in my family is diabetic, and my children have not tested positive for it.........but they do have "dirty" necks and I am always getting on to them for it. My oldest is very clean and she told recently that she doesn't understand why she can't wash those marks off. So thank you for potentially saving the lives of my daughters. I have personally found that low carb dieting works like magic for my own prediabetic condition. There are many version of low carb diets out there but Suzanne Somers' diet seems to be the most kid friendly and safe. ((((((((hugs))))))))
Laurel Santiago

Manic Mom said...

Thank you for this great info. I'll keep him in my prayers.

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