We recently asked our Facebook and Twitter communities to send us their stories—specifically, what it’s like to be the parent of a child living with type 1 diabetes. Having received a lot of wonderful stories, we’re excited to present these favorites on the blog every week.
We hope you’re as inspired by these personal stories as we are, and that you’re willing to keep the conversation going. Tell us more in the comments!
Name: Heather & Bekah (@yermawn)
Location: Fresno, California
Bekah was recently diagnosed on July 2, 2015. She is now 11 years old. I’ve had type 1 since I was 18 months old and now I’m 46. My grandmother also had it and lived until she was 89.
What motivates me? It’s that I know exactly what it’s like for Bekah. I am so very thankful, for once in my life, to have this disease. I am able to teach her and understand her frustrations from personal experience. But seriously, I’ve done everything I’ve ever wanted to—and I tell her she will do the same!
I have told her it’s an inconvenience to take a shot before you eat, but it could be worse. She has been giving her own shots since July 13, less than two weeks after she was diagnosed. I told her if she wants to be able to be independent and go to sleepovers, she’s going to have to do it herself. She did it and we were so proud of her. That’s a huge accomplishment!
There haven’t really been any challenges at school. The nurse is new, but she knows I know what I’m doing and what the doctors have ordered. We have set up a group text message between the school nurse assistant who is there daily and the district nurse and me. When Bekah checks her blood glucose at her designated times, she then group-texts us and tells us how many carbs she’s eating and what she is dosing. I pack her lunch so I text the carb count to everyone in the morning. Bekah just reconfirms that carb number along with her blood glucose levels and insulin dose at lunch time. Everyone is in the loop and has been wonderful and supportive.
My advice to other parents with newly diagnosed children is to no not overreact with the whole food thing. My kid eats whatever she wants, within reason. I obviously don’t let her eat candy bars for breakfast, apple pie for lunch and German chocolate cake for dinner. Everything is in moderation. She even got up in front of the whole class the first day of school and said, “If you can eat it, so can I!” She counts her carbs and knows how to dose insulin. It takes about two extra minutes out of her entire day to figure out the carb counts. Again, my philosophy is “everything in moderation.”
I believe everyone should expect and be prepared for a hypoglycemia situation. We were on day two of our journey with diabetes and on vacation for the Fourth of July (diabetes doesn’t stop us!) when Bekah said, “I think I’m low.”
I asked, “What are you feeling?”
She explained her symptoms and I said, “Let’s go check your levels and get you some juice.”
She was indeed low (72 mg/dl) and she knew what the feeling was. As we sat there as a family, I explained to her, “This is what it feels like. If you feel like this you need to eat or drink something.” Since then she’s all over it.
Let your friends, your child’s friends and their parents know right away about living with diabetes. Brag about it and post it on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Everyone needs to know the basics of diabetes, so there are as many people as possible looking out for your child. This way, your child should never feel ashamed or embarrassed to tell someone someday when they need help with a low, for example.
Lastly, make your child learn about diabetes. Do not do everything for them forever. They need independence and that cannot be done by hovering over them 24/7. They have to know what to do and what not to do. Granted, your child must be old enough to understand. I wouldn’t expect a 2-year-old to know the ropes, but an 8-year-old can and should. I was 8 when I started giving my own shots and I knew what to do if I was low.
There have been so many changes and advances since I was a kid, so with Bekah’s diagnosis there is a ton of new information for me as well. It’s a great refresher course on diabetes.
The American Diabetes Association’s Safe at School campaign is dedicated to making sure that all children with diabetes are medically safe at school and have the same educational opportunities as their peers. To learn more, visit http://diabetes.org/sas.