Seven years ago, type 1 diabetes knocked on the door of our home. Since Friday, June 2, 2006, it has become part of our family. My relationship with it is completely personal and very close to my heart.
Our youngest son, Jaime, three years old at the time, started to show typical symptoms of type 1 diabetes, which we failed to recognize. After being potty trained, Jaime started to wet the bed, the car seat and even the floor. He was constantly thirsty, was moody, had poor appetite and had lost weight.
What did we think was occurring to Jaime? We thought that maybe he was going through some stage in his toddler years. It wasn’t until my mother-in-law commented that something was different in Jaime—he looked thinner and had baggy eyes—that we realized that something was not right. Immediately, my husband and I looked at each other and decided to call the pediatrician.
I will never forget that conversation with the pediatrician, when we explained the changes that we had observed in Jaime. She told me: “Mila, I hope that I am wrong, but all those changes in Jaime’s behavior are signs of diabetes mellitus type 1.” She asked us to take Jaime for a blood glucose test.
We took him to urgent care for the test. The result of 589 mg/dl confirmed what our pediatrician had already suspected. All those symptoms that my son had displayed were the first signs of type 1 diabetes, caused by little or no insulin production from his pancreas.
As a mother, when I received Jaime’s medical diagnosis, I felt the world come over me. I felt helpless, powerless, full of disbelief. I thought that the medical diagnosis was wrong, that someone would walk into the hospital room and say they had made a mistake and we could all go home. I felt guilt and hopelessness. I felt that in a sudden moment my life had taken an unexpected twist, and I did not know what to do.
But even within that whirlwind of emotions I was going through, I understood that education is and always will be the key to a successful diabetes management.
The more you know about type 1 diabetes, the better you understand what is occurring in your child’s body, and the more confident you feel facing different situations and regaining control of your family life. Our son’s diabetes has united our family even more. We are a family with diabetes, not a family with a diabetic child; diabetes does not define our son or our family. Together we face type 1 diabetes, we educate and support Jaime in his management.
Research shows that family support equals good outcomes in the management of diabetes and a better quality of life. Other studies indicate a relationship between family conflicts and diabetes outcomes; less family conflict equals better outcomes and more family conflict leads to worse outcomes.
Today, seven years later, we continue to educate ourselves and keep our “Finish Line Vision”: a healthy today and tomorrow for my son, for which we work very hard, every hour of every day.
Currently, through Jaime-dulceguerrero.com, we share our experiences, provide education and above all support families, like ours, that have been touched by type 1 diabetes. I encourage you to not lose faith and hope and to seek support and information through social media. When we connect with others who have traveled the same path, we feel the empathy and feel supported and engaged—hence, obtaining better outcomes in our treatment and better quality of life.
Paraphrasing Dr. Elliott P. Joslin, the father of modern diabetes education, “the person with diabetes who knows the most, lives the longest.”