Finding out your child has diabetes can be a frightening, daunting experience, unless you are a diabetic yourself and can understand the disorder and what it involves in relation to lifestyle changes.
You will experience many emotions; you may feel angry that your child has to go through life coping with diabetes; you may blame yourself/selves and feel you might have been the cause, you will be afraid for your child and yourself/selves, there may be a sense of panic, and then there is the big question of how will you cope?
Do not panic, there are many resources available to you, the medical team will support you, they will be organized, well informed and supportive, use them, they are there for you and your child. They will be able to guide you through every step of the way throughout your child’s life.
Do not allow your fear to transfer to your child, children cope extremely well when there is encouragement and support around them.
There are several online resources that have been developed by families such as yours, find them, make friends and you in turn will find yourself becoming a support for others, there are articles such as this and more in-depth medical descriptions available, there will be groups with telephone numbers and contact details for help in the area you live in, use them.
A hormone is a mix of chemicals its job is a life giving messenger in the body. Glucose is collected by the Insulin. When food is eaten it is broken down and distributed around the body for various uses, Glucose is the result of food that has been altered by the liver.
The job of Insulin is to collect Glucose and deposit it into cells around the body as an energy supply.
Glucose is an important ingredient; it is a basic fuel, an energy supply for an engine, without it complications will occur and the engine will seize up or stop altogether.
Insulin also stops proteins and fats from breaking down, these are also required by the body as a source of energy.
If the Insulin is not produced the effect is a bit like a runaway train, the Glucose builds up , the proteins and fats breakdown at a rapid pace, this leaves the body, tired and weak, the problem worsens if not corrected quickly.
Insulin needs to be replaced fast. In Juvenile Diabetes the way this is carried out is through an injection of artificially reproduced Insulin.
The thought of injecting your child or your child having to do the injecting themselves will probably be an overwhelming emotion, again you will not be alone, the correct methods and practical sessions are taught to you all by the Diabetic support team, they have booklets, pictures and practice tools readily available to assist you and your child, the main factor is to keep calm and do not relay your anxieties, your child will cope surprisingly well, also extra stress brings on an anxiety state that will burn extra energy and will not help your child’s diabetes.
It might be an ideal time for the whole family to change or rethink their eating habits. Problems will probably arise with siblings objecting to change, they need to be encouraged to become supportive but they will also need support, it will be frightening for them too, they might secretly worry if it will happen to them, they might be resentful of the diabetic sibling for bringing these changes into the home, they may resent the extra attention that is paid to your diabetic child, do not block them out, if they are of an age where they can understand what is going on, ask their advice on diet changes, find out what they are willing to do for their brother or sister, you may be pleasantly surprised by what a family chat will bring about.
Your diabetic child must be made to feel normal, they might not want the whole world knowing they have diabetes; you will have to explain there are people who will need to know but will respect their privacy where possible.
Teenagers may rebel a little and experiment with alcohol and change their healthy diet for that of the junk food lifestyle, this needs to be addressed as calmly as possible, you will lose a little of the control you have had with their diabetes, you will have to ride a few storms but they will probably not last long.
Children can be picky eaters and they can also use food as a weapon for attention, use your resources, and find out how others coped.
Children are often described as “little bundles of energy” and your diabetic child will want to run and play with the rest, however if they have not prepared their body for this extra activity then it can have upsetting consequences, for example they may burn off too much energy (Glucose) and become drowsy or appear to faint, they will need an intake of glucose quickly, a sugared drink, glucose sweets or sweet biscuits will help quickly restore the body to a safe level again, this type of event is known as a Hypoglycaemic attack, hypo=low.
Hyperglycaemia is too much Glucose this over rides the Insulin, children may take the kind offerings of another child in the form of sweets and biscuits, you will need to explain that this can damage their health further, they will become thirsty and lethargic, showing some signs they may have had before diagnosis was made.
Teachers, club leaders, friends and family are all there waiting to give you support, they want to know what to do in the event of a crisis, tell them, get them the instructions you have been given, get them on-board, if they are going to be in loco parentis (in place of a parent) then they have a right to be informed and equipped with the knowledge required.
Never feel you have failed as a parent and most importantly never see your child as doomed, diabetic children lead active lives and go on to have families of their own. The medical team grows with them, it takes them into adulthood, and they continue to support well adjusted adults.
Enjoy your child, watch them grow, just stay calm and know you are not alone.