Having a child diagnosed with diabetes is a major event. Your life will never be the same. But it's very important to keep everything in perspective. Managed properly, diabetes should not prevent your child from doing anything that other kids do.
Your child's attitude about diabetes will be in large measure a reflection of your attitude, so it's vitally important that you approach diabetes management as matter-of-factly as possible. This can be very difficult for parents with combative toddlers, but it is very important.
Don't blame yourself for your child's diabetes--it's not your fault. While there is research into preventing diabetes, at this time, there is nothing you could have done to prevent it. You might be able to prevent your other children from developing diabetes, so be sure to read about Research into Prevention. Read about DAISY study and enroll your other children at the earliest opportunity. Siblings of children with diabetes are our best hope to find a way to prevent this disease.
Speak to your diabetes team about participating in scientific studies. Your child might not receive an immediate benefit from participating in a study, but other children will.
If you're planning to have more children, you might want to discuss saving your next child's cord blood with your doctor. Some scientists think that cord blood may be helpful in curing auto-immune diseases like Type 1 diabetes. Banking cord blood is expensive, and there is currently no solid evidence that cord blood will be useful in a cure for diabetes. See the Cord Blood Registry page for more information.
If your child attends school or day care, you'll need to help teachers or day care providers understand diabetes and how to care for your child's needs. This is discussed in Diabetes at School.
Finally, don't forget that you, as a married couple, have a life separate from your kids. No matter how young your child is, find a baby sitter with whom you feel comfortable and teach her how to care for your child's diabetes. Ask your relatives if they'll learn too, so you can take an occasional night or weekend getaway. Diabetes is a 24-hour-a-day disease. You must find a way to take a break from it now and then.
Having diabetes means that you have to do blood tests and take insulin everyday. You also have to manage your foods a little more closely than you used to, and prepare a little more before sports and other activities. But diabetes won't stop you from doing anything you did before.
Your friends will want to know about diabetes. Tell them that they can't catch diabetes from you, so they don't have to worry about that. And show them what blood tests and insulin injections are, if you want to. Most kids are curious and will be very impressed that you do blood tests and take shots everyday. Some kids will even let you do a blood test on them, but be sure it's OK with their parents first.
For More Information
- Read the Presentation at the AACE Pediatric Practice Management Workshop to understand more about caring for kids with diabetes
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