Eight-year-old Hannah Anolik is a "spunky, wonderful, and brave kid," according to her mother, Clifton resident Ellen Anolik. These qualities have proved invaluable. Diagnosed with juvenile diabetes in ‘004, Hannah learned to give herself insulin shots at age 6. "Her pancreas shut down," said Anolik. "She needed shots after everything she ate."
Thanks to an insulin pump that she wears "’4/7 and will have to wear the rest of her life," the third-grader at Clifton School 16 is back to a normal routine, which, says her mother, includes soccer, bowling, and "performing in a play at the Clifton Y."
Hannah Anolik, 8, has been coping with diabetes since age 6.
"The parents of Hannah’s friends tell me that the other kids look up to her," said Anolik. "They can see that she rose to the occasion." Hannah’s teachers have also been very supportive, she said.
Ellen Anolik said she has "been a member of the Jewish community in Clifton/Passaic my entire life" and that she, and her children (Hannah has an 18-year-old brother), have always been active members of the Y. "I remember the Y when it was in Passaic," she said.
Anolik was in graduate school "six credits shy of a master’s in special education" when Hannah took ill. She will go back someday for the other credits, but right now, "Hannah’s health is the priority."
The illness was detected thanks to "mother’s intuition," said Anolik, who was troubled by the "classic symptoms" of extreme thirst and too-frequent urination. When she took Hannah to a doctor for a blood test, the girl’s sugar count was over 700.
"She was rushed immediately to the intensive care unit at St. Joseph’s Hospital," said Anolik, who added that she "received a crash medical school course in a week," learning to give shots, count carbs, and other skills necessary to Hannah’s well-being. "It was very hard at first," she said. "We had to be very proactive."
According to the World Health Organization, the incidence of diabetes is rapidly increasing throughout the world and is expected to double by the year ‘030. The American Diabetes Association reports that in the U.S. alone, ‘0.8 million adults and children suffer from the condition with millions more as yet undiagnosed.
Anolik explained that in Type 1, or juvenile, diabetes, the patient produces no insulin. Anolik, who has now met many other families affected by the disease, says she has seen people "from infants to 19-year-olds" diagnosed with this condition.
"The disease has a tremendous effect on families, becoming the [family’s] focus," said Anolik. "There’s no room for error. You can’t miss an insulin shot even once, or you risk the child’s going into DKA (Diabetic Ketoacidosis). Most people don’t realize that there’s never downtime. It’s always there."
"And," she said, "there’s so much to know, and it changes all the time, depending on the foods she eats, her activities, and her schedule. There are no consistent rules." Still, said Anolik, "Hannah and I help each other and find strength in each other."
Hannah and her mother participated in last year’s Walk for the Cure for Juvenile Diabetes, raising some $4,000, according to Anolik. In addition, Hannah has become an advocate for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and is listed on the group’s Website (jdfr.org).
The Anoliks will walk again this year, leading a team dubbed "Hannah’s Bananas." The event will take place Sunday, Oct. 15, at 9 a.m. at Berkley College in West Paterson.
The family has met many others in the same situation through their association with the JDFR, and Anolik would like to meet even more. She told this newspaper that the executive director of the Bergen/Rockland chapter of the group, Douglas Rouse another member of the Clifton Y is working to establish a Passaic County support group for people with the illness and their families, to be held monthly at the YM-YWHA of North Jersey, in Wayne. For more information about the group, write to firstname.lastname@example.org (Lisa is the mother of Audrey, another youngster with juvenile diabetes) or email@example.com.