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: Phyllis Roberts, mother of Amy, age 29, diagnosed at age 8
From: Red Boiling Springs, Tenn. (Phyllis), and Peru, Ind. (Amy)
When my daughter, Amy, was eight, I noticed she was eating more and was quite thirsty. I was concerned and made an appointment with her pediatrician. After doing some blood work, he told me he thought she had juvenile diabetes, now known as type 1.
He then set us up an appointment with an endocrinologist. After a week in the hospital—she getting her blood glucose under control and I learning to give insulin shots and taking classes on healthy eating—we were released.
I was scared to death and so angry with God. I questioned why He allowed this to happen to my only child. I was focused on keeping my baby girl healthy but also wanted to ensure she had a normal childhood. It was hard at first, but we learned how to plan a diet that worked, for I wanted her life to continue as best as possible. I never wanted Amy to think her diabetes would stop her from doing anything she desired to do.
The hardest part was having to give her insulin shots three times a day. I could not seem to deal with poking my child with a syringe. Each and every time, I would tear up. One day, after giving her a shot, I walked over to the window and fought tears. Amy came over and hugged me, saying, “Mom, you know, those shots don’t hurt but seeing you cry does—so I think I need to learn how to give them to myself.” Before long, Amy was giving herself insulin shots, and she never once complained. Her determination was amazing.
Yes, there were times other kids teased her, and were even cruel. But she was not going to let that stop her from having the best life possible. I decided that she was capable of doing anything she desired. I decided my child was stronger than me, and I was going to follow her faith. Although it was hard, we managed.
My only goal was to keep her healthy while letting her do whatever her heart desired. She did whatever other children did: playing softball, having sleepovers, attending diabetes camp (Camp John Warvel in North Webster, Ind.) and so on.
Amy is now 29, an adult. She has an amazing job, she is in a happy relationship and her diabetes has never once stopped her for being the best she can be. My child’s bravery taught me one thing: With faith we can do anything we set out in this life to do.