Crystal is a 30-something freelance writer and stay-home mom to 3. When not chasing after her kids, she can be found blogging about them at Kid Things.
November is Diabetes Awareness Month, a cause close to my heart. In August of 2010, my then 6 year old son was rushed to the hospital with a blood sugar reading over 800. He was admitted into the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, where the first few days were the scariest I have ever experienced. His diagnosis was clear: Type 1 diabetes.
Unlike Type 2, Type 1 is an auto-immune disease. He did not acquire diabetes because he ate too many sweets, his immune system simply turned on itself. It is a chronic, incurable, but manageable, disease. He will need to administer a balancing act of insulin for the rest of his life.
The abundance of information all at once is completely overwhelming and utterly confusing at first. The statistics alone are staggering. It’s normal to not know where to turn. It’s normal to be afraid. It’s also normal to want to live your life like normal.
If you should find yourself the parent of a child with a chronic disease like diabetes, these are suggestions that could help you find a path to your new normal.
1. Read all the information you can. The internet is an amazing library full of wonderful resources. Take advantage of it. For diabetes, read through websites such as the American Diabetes Association and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Furthermore, search for personal articles and blogs. The more informed you are, the less overwhelmed you’ll feel.
2. Seek a support group. There are a myriad of message boards available online. But while the internet is great, local support is even better. Not only for you as the parent to share stories and trials, but also your child. Introducing your child to a common group of peers, who have to test their blood sugar and worry about insulin, lets them know they’re not alone.
3. Gather a caring, informed medical team. You will need an endocrinologist that will support you, care for your child, and explain their answers concisely and compassionately when you have questions.
4. Do not let a disease define who you are. Live your life. At first, this may sound impossible. If you are anything like I was, you will be constantly worried. You will find yourself unable to focus elsewhere. You may even feel like you’re flailing in open air. As time moves on, however, it really does get easier. Let your kid be a kid. If my son wants a cupcake, I let him have a cupcake. He runs and plays and he’s your typical little boy, except he has Type 1 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes does not have him.
Do you have any tips you’d like to share for living with a chronic disease?
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