Raising children can be a challenge, but raising a child with a chronic illness such as diabetes can be difficult with a side-order of challenges.
So, mom and dad, you’ve been dealt with a trauma that’s nearly incomprehensible and you feel overwhelmed and oh-so-very sad, and that’s okay to feel this way. Diabetes is a 24/7 condition. There are constant demands including checking blood sugar, counting carbohydrates and adjusting insulin doses. You are stressed over highs and lows, and weeks are often labelled “good” or “bad” based on glucose ranges.
The first few weeks after your child’s diagnosis can be very tough, but it is important to move on from those tears and to accept it, to be good with it, because this is your new normal. Anything you can do to accept it, and to be good with it, is going to help your child to do just that.
The good news is that you will become an expert and that a child diagnosed with Type-1 Diabetes (T1D) can lead a normal life – go to school, play sports, get a job – there’s NO reason why your child should not be able to live a long and happy life.
We have a few top tips from seasoned experts to help you navigate those first tricky weeks:
Work with your healthcare team and see them at least four times a year. Your team will usually include your doctor, an endocrinologist, a dietician, and sometimes a psychologist to help you and your family adjust to the diagnosis and new routine. They are there to teach you how to check blood sugar levels, use insulin and manage the diet.
Vanquish fear. Fear is normal, but remember millions of people use insulin every day and live complete lives. Share your fears about e.g. ketones; your team will educate you on how you have the tools to fix ketones quickly. Ask them to help you to get past your fears.
Just do it. Whether it’s a sleepover or a birthday party with lots of goodies. Your team is there to help you come up with a plan. You want your child to grow up being independent, happy and brave, right? It might not work perfectly the first time, but eventually you’ll nail it!
Be mindful of your facial expressions, especially when you see an out of range blood glucose.
Insure a safe and healthy lifestyle. Diet should be low in fat, high in fibre and be low GI, water should be the drink of choice, fruit juices contain a lot of sugar. Also, incorporate low GI fruits such as cherries, peaches and strawberries. These changes must apply to the whole family, e.g. it’s brown rice or no rice, for everyone. Make school lunches exciting. Be aware of the carbohydrate content because that determines the insulin dosage.
Keep family members, friends, teachers and babysitters in the loop.
Assist your child to become more independent in diabetes self-care. The goal for all kids are to live successfully and independently with diabetes care. Young kids might select a needle or choose a finger for testing – eventually they will be ready to handle testing and injections on their own. (Although parents should continue to supervise)
Make a difference. Not in week one, maybe even not in month one, but ride your bike for research or help a newly diagnosed family. Helping others will empower you.
Remember, a wonderful life is your daughter taking part in hockey, even if her blood sugar was low an hour earlier, or the delicious exhaustion you see in your son after a family swim, no matter what the blood sugars were that day. A wonderful life is a life well lived, despite diabetes.
Source: asweetlife.org, www.parents.com, www.ccsmed.com, www.activebeat.com, childrenwithtype1diabetes.org, www.amazon.com, www.t1everydaymagic.com, www.webmd.com, www.joslin.org, www.battlediabetes.com, futurelife.co.za, www.transcendfoods.com, www.health24.com, kidshealth.org, www.ucdenver.edu, health.usnews.com
DISCLAIMER: The information on this website is for educational purposes only, and is not intended as medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. If you are experiencing symptoms or need health advice, please consult a healthcare professional.