Callie Briley is a wife and mother to three beautiful children: Hunter, Taylor and Lizzie. In July of 2014 Callie and her husband Justin welcomed their youngest daughter, Lizzie, into the world.
When her other children came to see the new baby in the hospital, Taylor was drinking constantly and complaining of headaches; she did not seem like herself. They had been noticing that Taylor was losing weight, but assumed it was the result of a growth spurt. Five days later Taylor woke up with a severe headache and vomiting. By that night she was extremely lethargic, and could barely breathe. Callie rushed her to the E.R. where the doctors said she was most likely in diabetic ketoacidosis. Taylor was all but unresponsive.
The family spent several nights in the PICU. Diabetic ketoacidosis left untreated leads to swelling on the brain, but luckily, Taylor did not suffer any brain damage. Taylor was, in fact, diagnosed with diabetes. Callie did not know much about diabetes at the time, but she has learned. She and Justin took several classes to learn how to properly care for Taylor: how to check her sugar, count carbs, give appropriate amounts of insulin, and treat extreme lows.
They left the hospital with a 5-year-old about to start Kindergarten, a newborn, and a newly diagnosed 2-year-old type 1 diabetic. Callie says “By October we really thought we were getting into the swing of things and coming around to accept that our daughter’s life would not necessarily be as we had always pictured for her.” Then on October 11th, only three months after Taylor’s diagnosis, Hunter began showing the same symptoms. They were headed to the hospital once again. Hunter was diagnosed type 1 diabetic as well. This time they caught it early, and he didn’t end up in a life threatening situation like his sister.
Hunter and Taylor take at the minimum 4 injections a day and prick their finger to check their sugar upwards of 12 times a day. Callie has to check their sugar several times during the night to prevent a severe low which can lead to seizures, coma or death.
Since their diagnosis, Callie has discovered that there is almost no help from the government or other sources for children with type 1 diabetes. It is reported that a child with type 1 diabetes will have an average healthcare cost of $9,300 a year – which is multiplied by two for the Briley family. Callie says, “The government does not see this disease as a disability and therefore they do not offer help. Even if you have multiple children. However we serve an amazing God and somehow every month we have been able to get their supplies. Even if that means digging in the couch for pennies.”
Ten months into their journey, Callie has decided to homeschool Hunter. He is finishing up his kindergarten year and headed into 1st grade. Hunter has a love for baseball and X-Box. Taylor is a princess, and she will tell you as much. She loves The Little Mermaid and playing mommy with her baby dolls. She tells everyone she’s saving her money in her piggy bank to go to Disney World and meet Ariel one day. The family recently got a diabetic alert dog, named Alice.
Hunter and Taylor both have learned how to check their own sugar. They can’t yet give themselves injections, but she knows when the time comes they will do it, and do it with confidence. They are intelligent well beyond their years. Callie says, “Hunter and Taylor both can tell you as much about diabetes as I can. They amaze me every day at their strength and determination to lead a happy and healthy life. These children face obstacles most never imagine facing. But they do it with a smile on their face and joy in their hearts.”
TJC is honored to name Callie Briley a Community Mother of the Year for her incredible dedication to making sure her children receive the care they need.