Diabetes is a disease that affects the whole family, especially when a child is diagnosed. Parents of children diagnosed with diabetes face overwhelming, and sometimes frightening, questions such as: How can I strike the balance between caring and hovering? Will she ever be able to eat sweets again? How will I ever be able to let him go out on his own?
All week long, we will present stories from parents of children with diabetes, illustrating the emotions, challenges and successes each family faced upon diagnosis.
Name: Tanya Lesinski, mother of Jacob, age 15, diagnosed at age 13
From: Ludington, Mich.
My son was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes on Aug. 2, 2011. Ironically, I am a registered dietitian (RD) and to that point had done my best to avoid diabetes (type 2, at least) as much as possible. Obviously, I couldn’t avoid it completely, and my knowledge of nutrition has been exceptionally useful.
My son became notably thinner on our vacation and, though he has always been thin, I felt as though something wasn’t right. Additional symptoms prompted me to bring a glucometer home from work when we returned from vacation. Sure I was over-reacting, I convinced him to let me check his blood glucose. The meter flashed “HI”—and I knew in that moment that our lives had just changed forever.
As an RD, I struggled with how much to share about the complications I see in my patients every day. I also struggled to see those complications myself, especially in my patients who are on dialysis. At first I couldn’t help but think that Jacob might be doomed to such an outcome. Fear can be paralyzing. I could say that I was able to push fear aside, but that would be a lie. Instead, I did the same as most parents and put on a strong front to help normalize life again.
In all honesty, I believe my son displayed the greatest strength (as is true with so many kids with type 1). On the first day home from the hospital, he told me “this won’t be so bad.” Amazing.
On our first encounter, Jacob’s endocrinologist gave us strict instructions. He looked each of us in the eyes and said, “This will NEVER stop him from doing ANYTHING.”
We do our best to live by these words every day.