Parents Talking Type 1: Jennifer Parker

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 are presenting stories from parents of children with diabetes, illustrating the emotions, challenges and successes each family faced upon diagnosis.

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justan parkerName: Jennifer Parker, mother of Justan, age 3, diagnosed at age 2

From: Paragould, Ark.

Like so many others, I am the mom of a child with diabetes. Justan was diagnosed April 15, 2012, at the young age of 2 years 5 months.

What a ride it has been! Then I had no knowledge of diabetes. All of a sudden, I had to learn how to keep my child alive.

I learned. One day at a time. One needle at a time. One reading at a time. He is learning too. The strength of these children is astonishing. Not only the diagnosed children, but siblings need acknowledged as well. Justan’s siblings have learned how to read his body and actions. It is amazing.

I get so aggravated at the questions people ask. Sometimes it is so difficult to be kind. I then recall that I was one of those folks once. I choose to educate. I’ve also met many very kind and truly inquisitive people. I’ve made new friends. I no longer feel alone and secluded.

The emotions of a parent whose child has a chronic illness are so overwhelming that some days I feel like I cannot do it anymore. Then I look at my son and realize that he did not ask for this. This was meant for him and for me. Together, we will fight and hope.

Until he is old enough to read his body and not need me anymore, I will be his pancreas for him. When the day comes that he can do this on his own, I probably won’t know what to do with myself. Until then…

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6 Responses to Parents Talking Type 1: Jennifer Parker

  1. Brenda says:

    My daughter was diagnosed at the age of 17 months and turned 18 years old in February. She graduated from high school in June and is now in the process of switching from pediatric care to adult care. I do not think that the day will ever come where I will be able to “let go”. I believe that as a parent of a child living with diabetes, I will always be on duty!! These children certainly show us how to live life to the fullest 🙂 Nothing keeps her down!!

    • Deborah says:

      I totally understand. Our son was diagnosed at 10, and he just turned 15. He says “I cant wait to move out for college”…I guess I will be the stalker mom on campus making sure he is ok, Maybe we can “let go” from a distance! You are not alone.

  2. Amy says:

    Thank you, Jennifer, for your story. Your son is just darling. My son was diagnosed at age 12, just 2 months before your Justan. Education is key! We have learned a ton about physiology, but also about ourselves. I think we will have a special bond with our sons. All the best to your family!

    (My maternal grandmother and her large family were from Paragould, migrating to IN and MI during the 1920s for factory jobs.)

  3. Carolyn says:

    Jennifer and Brenda, I have been my son’s pancreas for the past 8 years. Working to control diabetes is a full time job! As parents we support our kids as much and however possible, so they can enjoy being kids. When James was about 12 I worried that I might be doing too much for him, that he would not learn to handle things responsibly on his own. Jean Litton, our fabulous diabetes educator at Duke, told me to do anything and everything he wants and needs me to do for however long he needs and wants it and that in time he would phase me out out. She was so right! My son is almost sixteen and things have fallen into place nicely. I help him put on pump sites that he can’t reach and he is starting to place orders at the pharmacy, etc. for supplies. More advice from Jean was to never argue about diabetes for any reason. She explained that kids cannot truly comprehend the damage that highs and lows are doing to their bodies, no matter how many times you try to explain. Blood sugar numbers are just information, try to learn from it if possible, and aim to get a better one next time. I can be fussy about homework and chores, but not diabetes. We try to make it as stress-LESS as possible! I have worked very hard to drum up patience from my depths for years! Lol! But it is paying off! I wish you both and all families with this challenge the very best!

    • Valorie says:

      That may be the best information any diabetes educator has ever given, don’t ever argue about diabetes! I was diagnosed with diabetes at age 12 yrs and I am now 34 yrs old with 2 young children of my own. I spent years not paying any attention to my diabetes and trying to live just like all the other kids, teenagers, and college kids I hung around with. I made mistakes and probably took some years off my life but thankfully I finally learned that I needed to take care of myself. How? Not by my mother telling me to, no diabetic will ever listen if they are not ready to. I am now a emergency room nurse, and diabetes educator and cant wait to start teaching others about what I know!! I love all your stories and hope I never have to be a mother on the other side of this disease. I think it would be much harder for a mom than it is for the kid, actually I know it is!! Congratulations to all of you, your the best mothers, nurses, and doctors for your children and don’t be afraid to use that knowledge.

  4. Michelle says:

    Beautifully written! I am so impressed with you and the kids! Keep up the good works! 🙂

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