ToquiNotes: How 16-Year-Old Jake Shuttleworth is Smacking Diabetes and How You Can Help in Battle

By Jeff Toquinto on February 10, 2018 from ToquiNotes via Connect-Bridgeport.com

The office was dark and the door to it this particular day at the Benedum Civic Center was locked. Not completely unusual for Bridgeport Parks and Recreation Deputy Director Joe Shuttleworth who is about as “on the go” as anyone I know in their job.
 
Since I usually give him and the big boss of the building Don Burton a hard time, I checked with the front desk to see where Joe was at this day. When I was told, “Haven’t you heard?” I figured barring winning the lottery and leaving for a resort that it wasn’t going to be great news.
 
As it turned out. It wasn’t.
 
I learned in short order that Joe and Kellee Shuttleworth, two of the best parents I know, were dealing with a sick child; a very sick child.
 
Their oldest son Jake, a 16-year-old sophomore at South Harrison High School, had been in Morgantown and not for a ball game. He was at Ruby Memorial where he had been diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes.
 
Jake Shuttleworth’s life was going to change. And so too was that of his father, mother, and younger brother Matthew.
 
Don’t, just yet, feel sorry for Jake Shuttleworth. As you’re going to read shortly, he’s shown at the age of 16 a level of courage and maturity many never are able to reach.
 
This is not a sad story. Rather, it’s one where someone is already looking to make some really good lemonade out of the lemons life has given him.
 
Before getting there, knowing how Jake Shuttleworth eventually found out about his illness and the lifestyle he led – and continues to lead in a different manner – is important. Knowing how the family supported him and an entire community chipped in is important as well.
 
Jake Shuttleworth has always been active from the time I’ve known him. Often you would see him at the Civic Center in the summer months or a visit with mom when dad was working late. He was also involved in Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts and by involved, I mean deeply involved.
 
“I started Cub Scouts when I was in the third grade. I was 9-years-old,” said Jake, who is a member of Boy Scout Troop 549 out of West Milford. “I really like camping. We learn a lot of cool stuff. I really like learning about the history of camps that I have attended.”
 
There have been plenty of outings over the years with the Scouts and away from them. Jake Shuttleworth was like everyone else his age. Pretty active, into having fun, and enjoying his teen years.
 
All seemed well. That would change on Nov. 10, 2017.
 
“I really started to feel like something was wrong about a week before I was diagnosed,” said Jake. “I just didn’t feel good. I told my dad and mom and they made an appointment for me with (my doctor). He’s the one who figured out (initially) what was wrong.”
 
Before the diagnosis, the family wasn’t sure just how sick he was. It started, as many things do, as a child appearing to being a bit under the weather.
 
“He had been a bit grumpy and lethargic. He said he felt cruddy. We thought maybe it was a stomach bug, a cold or something else,” said Joe, who has been with the city for 23 years. “He just kept complaining so we made a pediatric appointment and the night before he got really sick … We ended up taking him to the doctor first thing the next morning; even before his appointment.”
 
After explaining what was going on to the local doctor, a test was done. It showed that a primary marker for diabetic ketoacidosis, ketones, was through the roof.
 
“You could tell by the look on the doctor’s face that what they found wasn’t normal,” said Joe.
 
The family was sent to United Hospital Center for blood work. In 45 minutes, Joe said the results were back and they were concerned enough that he was sent directly to Ruby Memorial in Morgantown.
 
“They were waiting for us in Morgantown. They did a blood test there and the monitor showed it was high,” said Joe.
 
The reading was very high. His blood reading should have been between 80 and 120. Jake’s numbers were above 600.
 
From that point for the next several days, the emotional roller coaster began. Joe said it was tough on everyone.
 
“The last thing you ever want to see is your kid suffering” said Joe. “We knew he was hurting, we knew he was worried and we knew he was unsure about what was going on. The problem was, we were unsure too. We tried to not let Jake know how concerned we were.”
 
At 16, that’s hard to hide from a youngster. And Jake knew his parents were worried.
 
“I was so tired and felt so bad I didn’t really understand what was going on. I knew my mom and dad were worried, but I really didn’t understand what was happening at the time.”
 
What was happening was Jake Shuttleworth and his family were about to be introduced to the “new normal” of being a Type I Diabetic. That meant changes to be dealt with for the rest of his life.
 
“A lot of people don’t understand the constant effort it requires,” said Joe. “We didn’t understand and we know people that have been in the situation for years and when you realize all that’s involved your heart really goes out to those people. Our heart went out to Jake because we know he’s got to deal with it forever.”
 
That “forever” comes with support. It came with immediate support from Ruby Memorial. It’s come with other support groups here locally.  
 
“There are so many people to thank. The whole team at Ruby was fantastic … and the outpouring of support, starting with WVU that has diabetes education specialists and a nutritionist, at times is overwhelming in the best way,” Joe said. “We had so many people that reached out to us including families that have already been there like the Lohmann’s, the Mossburg’s and the Stutler’s. The messages, the phone calls, the support on Facebook was continuous and people still check on us.
 
“I know it helped us,” Joe continued. “I think it helped Jake too. He’s doing well for the most part.”
 
That he is. Jake said his parents assured him they would figure out their “new normal” and that’s what’s happened. So his typical day is now typical in a new way.
 
“Before I eat any food, I have to check my blood sugar. I also have to count every carb and give myself an insulin shot after every meal (and some snacks also). I really don’t like having to leave class to do these things, but I know I have to so that I won’t get sick again,” said Jake. “With Type 1 diabetes, you don’t have to eat special foods. I do have to be careful with certain foods, because they make my blood sugar go too high. The biggest difference for me is that now when I have a soda, it is usually diet. I never had to do that before.”
 
So how’s he handling the change?
 
“At first he handled it better than we did and I think that’s because of having a helpless feeling. Jake would tell you, too, that there are times he tires of it because of the early ups and downs. For the most part, he’s been a trooper,” said Joe. “As we’re out from it a ways now, I can tell you he’s handling it like a champ,” said his father.
 
And as it turns out, he’s handling it like a heavyweight champion. This is where Jake Shuttleworth has separated himself from the crowd.  
 
As mentioned above, Shuttleworth is heavy into scouting. Before this incident, he was beginning to look at what to do to earn Eagle Scout status. His initial thought was to do an improvement project at a park or something in his local community.
 
That all changed thanks to what he went through and a Google search by his father. During that search involving projects to earn Eagle Scout status, Joe stumbled upon one involving a scout with diabetes that was putting together kits to give to newly diagnosed youngsters to help them begin with their journey.
 
Joe and Kellee Shuttleworth thought doing the same thing for youth at Ruby Memorial was worth mentioning to Jake. And Jake loved the idea.
 
“I got excited,” said Jake when he was told he might be able to do this as his project. “I thought that I would like to do something to help other kids who were diagnosed with diabetes.”
 
The “might” rested with needing to get approval for it. They got that approval – from Troop 549, from the Allohak Council of central West Virginia and WVU Hospitals (since most youngsters in the region go to WVU for treatment and diagnosis) – and now Jake’s second battle in recent months and much more fun one begins.
 
Jake Shuttleworth is putting together kits that allow for multiple items to be included. The kit will have a bag for insulin and a glucose meter, alcohol wipes, glucose tablets, a notebook to keep track of blood sugar and insulin shots, snacks to help when sugar becomes an issue, a diabetic alert bracelet, information to provide to educators at schools, and a letter from Jake himself.
 
“We hope this helps because there’s so much you need to get started and we think this will help. With Kellee being a teacher having information for educators will be a big help too,” said Joe. “We want to get this up and running so every kid that goes in there will come out with something to ease their burden and that of the family, but we’ll need some help.”
 
The help comes in the form of raising the dollars to make the kits possible. Jake Shuttleworth wants to create 150 kits that he is calling “Be Prepared Kits.” The estimated cost is between $2,500 and $3,000.
 
You can help out HERE. This will take you to a GoFundMe page.
 
Groups and individuals can also make donations at any Harrison County Bank Location in person or by mail. The address is Harrison County Bank, 1215 Johnson Avenue, Bridgeport, WV 26330, ATTN: Shuttleworth Eagle Scout Project.
 
“He sees this as some way to help take one thing off the plate of others in the immediate aftermath,” said Joe. “Both Kellee and I very proud of him. He got dealt a rough situation and for him to get excited to look at this in a way to help other people and take it and make it easier for them is heartwarming.”
 
The goal is to have the kits this year. They hope to be available at Ruby Memorial by late summer or fall.
 
Regardless of when it will arrive, Jake Shuttleworth has already proven more as a 16-year-old than most will do their entire lives. Jake’s doing something few take the time to do or take advantage of any situation to do.
 
He’s going to make a difference. Let’s all help out here in Bridgeport, southern Harrison County and beyond. 
 
Editor's Note: Top photo shows Joe and Kellee Shuttleworth with Jake and some "kit" items, while the second photo shows Jake testing his own blood. In the third picture, Jake is shown doing some of the activities outside that he's come to love and are a big part of his Scouting world. In the fourth picture, Scouting is a family affair as Joe and Jake are shown with the youngest in the family Matthew. At the bottom is a warning list showing signs of Type I Diabetes. All photos courtesy of the Shuttleworth family.


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