Parents Talking Type 1: Charles Pennington

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?

This is the latest in our occasional series from parents of children with diabetes, illustrating the emotions, challenges and successes each family faced upon diagnosis.

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Doran Lee Pennington

Doran Lee Pennington

Name: Charles Pennington
Location: Highlands, Texas

My son Doran was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age 11. It scared me to death.

For the first two years, I thought he could never leave my sight. School field trip? I was right behind the bus all day. Little League baseball? Every practice and game, we tested every half-hour. With friends playing catch in the street? Not without your glucose tablets!

I was a MESS.

Not until Doran left for college was I able to just let it go. I had to. He is now 19 and he just finished his freshman year at the University of Texas in Austin.

If your child has symptoms resembling a 24-hour virus or food poisoning, demand a simple blood glucose test when you take him or her to the doctor. Our primary care doctor initially sent us home to nurse a tummy ache. A few hours later, we were in ER with a blood glucose reading of over 700 mg/dl! This was followed by a week of intensive (and very AWESOME) care at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston.

Your child with diabetes needs to know that he or she can still do everything they have always done—and more. ALWAYS involve your child when you calculate mealtime insulin dosages. They need to know when and why you are changing any carb-to-insulin ratios, things like that.

Establish a good relationship with your local pharmacies and your insurance company, and take advantage of Patient Care Advocate services if they are offered by your employer as part of your benefits.

Take a look at research studies that may be offered by hospitals or universities in your area. They almost always provide insulin and supplies, and they will pay your child for the additional finger sticks and paperwork required for the study. This approach has helped us along the way.

And, by the way . . . Doran’s first year on his own, his A1C went down .5 percent! So there is hope.

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10 Responses to Parents Talking Type 1: Charles Pennington

  1. Robyn May says:

    Thanks for sharing your story. My daughter was diagnosed 18 mos. ago at age 11, and your story sounds exactly like me. The first 18 mos were a tremendous time of learning and moving forward to her pump (last August). Now, we feel the emotional longevity beginning to set in. As she approaches 13 and 8th grade, I know that she’ll begin to transition away from me in so many ways; yes, even in her management of her disease. I’m proud of her, yet live in that same place of anxiety that many feel early on. Your story provides some hope that I will be able to let her be and to let her go.

  2. Ann Marie says:

    Thanks for your story, it does help, every story helps. My son was diagnosed two years ago at 11 months old, so we understand fear, it’s very difficult for us, because he doesn’t understand, you have to eat what we treated you for. We use a dexcom as well as the pump for some security, otherwise I may never sleep again. I am so glad to hear that you son is doing well on his own. It scares me to think about the challenges they will go through as a teenager, through puberty, peer pressure, etc. so your story gives me hope.

  3. Holly Seaman says:

    My husband has type 1 diabetes. We do not have any children yet, but we have been told that there is a 50/50 chance he can pass diabetes on to our children. I love hearing inspirational stories like yours. It gives me hope as well for our future. Thank you for sharing!

  4. Jennifer B says:

    Thank you for sharing your difficulties. My daughte was diagnosed Type 1 at age 15. That has been 6 years ago now. There have been tremendous bumps along the way – and her Dad and I have often felt alone. It’s awful to see others struggle, but it also lets us know we are not alone in this. I am still working on letting go. Good luck to your family!

  5. Melissa Castillo says:

    Great article! Glad to hear of your son’s success.

    • charles pennington says:

      I hope everyone can see my final comments. Children with type 1 face a life long battle. Currently, as we have experienced, this is an expensive battle. Insurance is helpful but inadequate at best. The current King of the United States has decided that free birth control medication is a birth right. To this, I say sex is a choice. Type 1 Diabetes is not

  6. Karen says:

    Thank you for sharing. My daughter was dx at the age of 11 & she is now 13. It is reassuring to read your posts. It is overwhelming to say the least when your child is dx with T1D. It’s nice to hear some positive stories & how other parents deal with this in their lives.

  7. DANIELLE BETANCOURT says:

    HELLO 🙂
    You have a great story, I work with your sons grandmother Mrs. Margaret. She encouraged me to ready your story (she was very proud). For I too have a son with diabetes. My son was diagnosed at age 4, he is now 11. It has been tough, we have gone through many struggles and they keep coming. He is hitting his pre-teen years and I am scared. We just went to the doctor yesterday and his A1c is at an 11  this makes me so sad. I feel like we are never going to get it right, but I have to have faith. At this point I don’t ever see myself letting him go, I wish he could take his health condition a bit more serious but he is just a child. I hope I can one day say what you have said in this post. I am proud of your son.

    • charles pennington says:

      thanks for checking this out! one trick we learned from one of his docs to lower a1c: after he gets pre-meal insulin, wait 15 minutes….then let him eat. it does work.

      as a parent, i’ll tell you, it doesn’t really get easier. but as your son matures and takes more control, it starts to give you some peace of mind that he WILL be ok. keep the faith!

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