Jack’s story: Why sick kids can’t wait

Jack Pierce JacobsenIn October 2009, my son Jack, now 11, was admitted to American Family Children’s Hospital and diagnosed with Type 1 insulin dependent diabetes. With Type 1 diabetes, the body does not produce insulin, so insulin shots must be given. There is no cure for Type 1 diabetes, unlike Type 2, which can usually be controlled by diet and exercise.

This was an immediate life change. The endocrinology team worked to stabilize Jack and teach Mom and Dad how to care for him once we returned home. Our new normal would become a routine of checking blood sugars, giving shots and counting carbohydrates. A lot to learn in a two-day hospital stay, but the hospital gave us the tools we needed.

Their attention to detail amazed us. The first night, just a few weeks shy of Halloween, the admitting doctor presented Jack with a sheet of carbohydrate counts for snack-size treats. The nurse on duty spent hours in the room as my husband was on a hiking trip out West and was trying to get a flight home. Late that first night she asked how things were going and I replied, “He’s good, he’s sleeping.” She looked over her glasses and said, “I’m not asking about your son, I’m concerned about Mom.”

During the next several days, as we worked with doctors to regulate Jack’s blood sugars, we learned to test blood sugars and give shots; we met with a dietitian, psychologist, chaplain and nurse educator. Jack, on the other hand, enjoyed playing video games, visiting the play rooms and doing art projects. The hospital is such a kid-friendly environment Jack always says it looks like a school, not a hospital. The teaching tools the hospital provided us were amazing, and the empathy from the doctors and nurses always real.

Jack will be a patient at the hospital until his early 20s. He visits quarterly to make sure things are in check. The doctors and nurses are wonderful. They know Jack and his likes and dislikes. As a parent of a child with a chronic illness, I am reassured to have the children’s hospital right in our backyard to help us manage Jack’s diabetes.

As a family, we have been involved in the hospital since the original capital campaign to build. We are donors and volunteers, and I sit on the Advisory Board. I never dreamed we’d use the hospital, and here we are today, several stays and a dozen or so quarterly checkups later.

As an agent, I have always taken great pride in American Family’s legacy of giving to the children’s hospital. It started years ago with my father, (former CEO) Harvey Pierce, and continues with current leadership. I am proud to share the story of American Family Children’s Hospital with customers, friends and neighbors. It is such a tremendous gift to this community.

I hope you’ll take the opportunity to tour, learn more and consider a gift to the hospital. Like the Pierce Jacobsen family, you never know when you may need American Family Children’s Hospital.

Editor’s Note: Spurred by an initial $10 million flagship gift from American Family Insurance in 2003, American Family Children's Hospital in Madison, Wis., provides specialized care in a healing environment designed especially for pediatric patients and their families.

However, more beds and treatment spaces are needed to care for the growing number of acutely ill babies and children. The "Sick Kids Can't Wait" campaign was launched to raise the funds needed to provide 26 more pediatric critical care beds, new operating room equipment and pediatric treatment spaces for children requiring advanced heart and radiological procedures.

Join American Family Insurance in our support of American Family Children’s Hospital’s “Sick Kids Can’t Wait” campaign.

by Susan Pierce Jacobsen on Fri, Dec 28 2012 2:32 pm
Posted by Susan Pierce Jacobsen on Fri, Dec 28 2012 2:32 pm

1 Comment

Mike Young said on Dec 28, 2012
Dear Susan,

I was touched by your story about your son, Jack, and I wish him all the best in dealing with his diabetes. My life has been touched directly by the Childrens' Hospital, also. Last August our 4 year old granddaughter was diagnosed with Leukemia. She is currently undergoing treatment at the hospital. My wife and I have been there all the way, as support for her and her family. We have witnessed first hand the kindess and caring from the staff. They are so focused on not only the disease, but the child, in every thing that they do. We are so blessed to have that facility in our own back yard. I have been an American Family insured since 1968. Shortly after Lucy began her treatment at the hospital I wrote an email to my agent, Keith Klipp in Reedsburg, and told him of our experience. I also told him that I was proud to be a part of a company that made the immense initial investment that made the hospital a reality.
So, I share in your enthusiasm and appreciation of American Family Childrens' Hospital. Again, I wish you and Jack the best of luck in coping with his diabetes. Little Lucy contracted steroid induced diabetes and high blood pressure in the first two months of treatment, and it was a nightmare for my daughter to manage the balance between carbs and insulin, with the highs and lows. The endocrine team worked tirelessly to address her ever-changing paramaters, in the shadow of her cancer treatments. Sorry for this being so long, Susan. Hope you have a good 2013.
Warm regards,

Add new comment