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Questions to ask grieving parents

questions to ask grieving parents

Welsh mum Beth Baldwin was concerned when her 13-year-old son Peter fell ill, and seemed much sicker than a normal flu would typically make him. She took him to their doctor and he was diagnosed with a chest infection and given antibiotics, but instead of improving, Peter just got worse.


Photo: Beth Baldwin

On New Year’s Day 2015, a worried Baldwin did what so many of us do when we’re unsure of our parenting—she called her own mom to come over and give advice. Alarmed at Peter’s state, Beth’s mom advised calling the ambulance immediately. Beth tells what happened next in her own words on BBC.com, “A first responder arrived at our house and one of the first things he did after giving Peter oxygen was prick Peter’s finger for a blood test. Within 30 seconds of coming he had diagnosed him as having type 1 diabetes – a condition where the body doesn’t produce enough insulin.”

That’s right—although Peter DID have a chest infection, that wasn’t what was making him so ill. His doctor had stopped his exam of Peter too soon, hadn’t asked enough questions, and did not have him tested for anything else.

The next few days were spent in the hospital trying to keep Peter’s organs from shutting down, but sadly, it was already too late.

“I was told he was in a DKA – diabetic ketoacidosis – which is when your body starts to shut down if you haven’t had insulin and it can lead to organ failure,” Baldwin says.

Peter’s little body gave up after six days, and Baldwin and her husband’s lives were shattered forever.

“We had to leave the hospital that night without him. My life turned completely upside down and I was heartbroken.”


Photo: Beth Baldwin

Soon, the Baldwins turned their grief over Peter’s sudden and unnecessary death into a crusade for type 1 diabetes awareness. Beth believes Peter could have been saved if he had been diagnosed at that doctor’s visit, and wants ALL doctors to ask ill children these 4 “T” questions:

  • Toilet – going to the toilet a lot, bed wetting by a previously dry child or heavier diapers in babies
  • Thirsty – being really thirsty and not being able to quench the thirst
  • Tired – feeling more tired than usual
  • Thinner – losing weight

She says Peter had ALL of these symptoms and if the doctor had just asked, perhaps his diabetes would have been uncovered in time. Additionally, if the answers to ANY of these questions is “yes,” Baldwin advocates that the doctor or their staff immediately perform a simple finger-stick test, which gives results in about a minute or less.


Photo: Beth Baldwin

“Peter wasn’t a sickly child and the GP was correct to diagnose him as having a chest infection. But the examination stopped there without exploring if anything else was wrong, even though he was very ill,” she says. Changing that, Baldwin says, WILL save lives.

Baldwin and her family have joined together to spread this awareness with Diabetes UK, but I would LOVE to see this message spread to the U.S as well! I have a few friends with little ones you have type 1 diabetes, and getting it diagnosed on time is CRITICAL. So my friends, in Peter’s memory, I ask that you SPREAD this word across the U.S. as well! Let’s ask our doctors – and our SELVES to ask the 4 “Ts” if our kids seem unusually ill. It’s not going to hurt, and it might just save a life.

Jenny Rapson
Jenny Rapson is a follower of Christ, a wife and mom of three from Ohio and the editor of For Every Mom. You can email her at [email protected], or follow her on Twitter.

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