RENO, NV - The symptoms were just like the flu: sore throat, body aches, and nausea. But when Damonte Ranch High School senior Tyson Irby got sick a few weeks ago, he never got better. Within days he died of a disease no one knew he had. This wasn't some mysterious disease, it was undiagnosed Type I Diabetes.
"He was just a great kid. High on life, just happy," said Anthony Irby, Tyson’s father. "He was just full of life. He was happy, he was athletic. He just never seemed like he had bad days. Not a complainer."
Tyson Irby was a relatively healthy kid. He'd have your normal flu or cold every year, but who doesn't? That's why when he came down with flu-like symptoms last month, his parents thought nothing of it.
"I asked him a couple times what his worst symptoms were and every single time he would say just nausea and body aches. That is all he would say," said Marisa Irby, Tyson’s stepmom.
After a week of being sick, Tyson’s parents decided it was time to go to urgent care, but not until morning. They didn’t think a few more hours would make a difference, but they were wrong.
"We went into his room and he was almost comatose. Couldn't talk, couldn't sit up or get real words out,” said Marisa.
When the paramedics arrive, they almost instantly told Anthony and Marisa that Tyson was an undiagnosed diabetic. He was rushed to the hospital.
"I always in life had a pretty good attitude so I just thought he was going to bounce back and he didn't bounce back," said Anthony.
Tyson's blood sugar level was in the 3,000 range. For a normal, healthy person, blood glucose should not be above 120. Tyson’s body was shutting down.
"They intubated him and they sent us out of the room to do that and when we were out in the hallway they said you need to come back and I think they had intubated him and his heart stopped for the first time. It stopped a couple times in the whole process but that was the first time his heart stopped," said Marisa.
Within 12 hours of being admitted to the hospital, Tyson was dead.
"I had personally never heard of someone ending up in the hospital and then the same day them not making it out and passing away," said Anthony.
"I kept saying I wish he would have said he was thirsty. You know, because we knew he was drinking and going to the bathroom but if he would have just said he was thirsty or couldn't quench his thirst I would have been like 'well that's weird,'" said Marisa.
Tyson’s parents had missed the warning signs. Tyson was losing weight, urinating constantly, drinking lots of fluids and never able to quench his thirst. All things he never mentioned to his family.
"It is when your body gets to a certain threshold with blood sugar that everything just goes down and collapses,” said Sarah Gliech with the Nevada Diabetes Association.
"Don't just think that Type I Diabetes is just for children, it can also be in adults. So adults need to be checking with the flu season as well," said Gliech.
A test for diabetes only takes about five seconds. A quick prick of the finger and the use of a blood glucose monitor and you’ll have your answer.
"Just get in there, take those little baby steps, and everything will be ok," said Gliech.
Back at the Irby house, they wish they knew about those baby steps a month ago.
"I would say to people... if your kids are getting dehydrated or they are telling you they can't quench their thirst, or they just can’t get enough water or fluids… that is a sign that this isn’t just the flu. This isn't mono, this could be possibly diabetes,” said Anthony.
Marisa and Anthony Irby are now telling all their friends and family there is no reason not to get tested for diabetes.
"Somebody's life is going to get saved through all of this and I know my son, most of all, even if it is one life in the next 100 years, that is what we are looking to achieve," said Anthony.
Tyson was just a week away from turning 18. There are already talks about making sure his stepbrother walks in his honor at graduation.