My child has diabetes; now what?
When faced with a diagnosis of diabetes, there are so many questions that can go through your mind. When your child has diabetes, you can become quickly overwhelmed. Parenting is one of the hardest jobs on earth; parenting a child with diabetes is a challenge that tests you to the core. I know, I have raised two children with diabetes. There is a light at the tunnels’ end, however. With patience, knowledge, and enlisting the help of others, children with diabetes can live wonderful, healthy lives. I even go as far as to tell my own children that they are often healthier than their non-diabetic counterparts because they eat healthy, exercise regularly, and because of what they have faced, they practice empathy and compassion for others daily.
I don’t want to paint a fairy tale picture. Diabetes is a challenge for anyone who knows it. You will also go through some stages for sure. A diabetes diagnosis often brings about feelings of guilt. 1
Here are some steps to take when your child is diagnosed with diabetes:
- Don’t blame yourself. It’s nothing you did, nothing you ate while pregnant, and nothing you could have prevented. It is a natural response as a parent to blame ourselves. This will put undo stress on you. Focus instead on ways to live well with diabetes instead of wracking your brain of how this could have happened to you.
- Do find a good health care provider, preferably a pediatric endocrinologist. These people deal with children with diabetes consistently and will likely be more apt to provide you with the most up to date therapy options for your child. Yes, there are different methods of treatment from insulin pens to insulin pumps. Choose a specialist that you feel comfortable with. You need a health care provider that you are not afraid to ask questions of; one who practices with empathy and compassion.
- Don’t try to absorb all things diabetes all at once. This is a time to take things slowly so that you have a thorough understanding of what you are learning. Be patient, it takes time.
- Do enlist the help of others. Support groups and online communities will be a lifeline. These members can be of immense help because they have all stood where you are right now. There is a great online community for children and parents with diabetes at http://www.childrenwithdiabetes.com. There are other communities as well, such as insulin pumpers.org and many more.
- Do try to have at least a visit or two with a Registered Dietician. They are great to guide you on how to choose a healthy diet plan for your child and your whole family. Learn to read food labels.
- Do educate friends and family members about diabetes. This is not something to hide. The more people are educated and aware of your child’s diabetes, the better. People will always offer well intended opinions about how to raise your child with diabetes. One of the most common comments I got were related to letting my children manage their diabetes on their own. I always participated in my children’s daily diabetes management, and actually studies have shown that children should not necessarily be allowed to manage their diabetes until they are old enough to grasp some of the complex concepts involved in diabetes management. 2 In fact, family involvement/participation in diabetes care of a child is good for that child at almost any age. You can’t rush children into self-care, you need to ease the child in gradually.
- When a child with diabetes goes to school, make sure there is a plan in place at the school to help with any diabetes care such as blood glucose testing, snacking in case of a low blood sugar and any other precautions that you want the school to adhere to. Schools in the US are mandated to assist students with diabetes under a federal law which is referred to as a 504 plan. Drafting a 504 for your child’s school is relatively simple and will spell out in a legal document how you want your child’s diabetes to be handled while he or she attends school. The plan calls for members of the school staff to get trained in areas that they need to know with regards to your child’s diabetes. Refer to the website for further details.3
- Do enlist the help of currently available technology to assist you in your child’s diabetes care. There are so many advances that have been made in diabetes care since my children were diagnosed that I would have loved to have had access to. Blood glucose meters today are not only accurate but enabled with technology that can track-and even alert others who have access to the app of a high or low blood sugar. There are continuous glucose monitors (CGM’s) that can be worn that will deliver blood glucose readings every 5 minutes, and even insulin pumps that deliver insulin that is programmed into the device. Each device should be carefully evaluated, and you should work with your health care team to see what may be best for you! There is no doubt that these devices help keep patients with diabetes healthier and on track to better diabetes control, as studies have shown. 4
- Do: Stay strong and remember, we are thousands of patients moving forward to a better, healthier life!!!
Of course, don’t forget your VIVI Cap to protect your insulin pen temperature! With every purchase of the VIVI Cap a donation is made to diabetes research at the JDRF.
Remember that at TempraMed we are here to protect you and your insulin from damaging temperatures and to keep you safe.
1. Nash, J. (2013). "Dealing with diagnosis," in Diabetes and wellbeing: Managing the psychological and emotional challenges of diabetes types 1 and 2. John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. Behavioral and Psychosocial Research with School-Aged Children with Type 1 Diabetes” in Diabetes Spectrum (10: 277-281, 1997)
4. Pacaud D, Kelley H, Downey AM, Chiasson M. Successful delivery of diabetes self-care education and follow-up through eHealth media. Can J Diabetes. 2012;36:257–262.