Adolescent Diabetes and The Effect It Has On the Entire Family

Kim Benjet Health Guide
  • In our family we like to confront diabetes with an element of nonchalance. Not about treatment, which we're fastidious about, but in attitude. We don't want our son to take on a tragic view of living with a chronic disease. A positive attitude is half the battle.

     

    But sometimes I think we might make it look too easy for family and friends. They see snippets of our life with diabetes -- the blood sugar tests, the bolus with the cool-looking insulin pump, quick dashes for juice or sugar tablets. They miss middle of the night blood sugar tests and the frustration we feel when our son can't have the dessert he wants because his blood sugar is too high. We do what needs to be done so we can get on to the living, and not drown in the minutia of the diabetes. In general that attitude serves our family pretty well.

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    But this one statement really get's my blood boiling - "oh it's just diabetes." We don't want pity, but it's not JUST diabetes. It's a chronic disease that Josh lives with 24 hours a day, every single day. There is no respite or a vacation from it. We can't ever stop thinking about it. After five years it might look like we think about it less, but that's because it has become second nature and almost automatic. It's just such a part of what we do. But please don't say to me "It's just diabetes," because it is painfully hard work for my husband and me and a brutal challenge to my happy-go-lucky, 9-year-old boy.

     

    I recall a study I read several years ago comparing the stress reaction of mothers of children diagnosed with leukemia and parents of children diagnosed with diabetes. As expected, the stress factors for parents of children with leukemia peaked at a much higher level than for the parents of children with diabetes. What I found most interesting was that the longer from diagnosis, the inverse was true. Parents' of children with leukemia stress level decreased as time passed, but the reverse was true for parents of diabetic children (see study info below).

     

    It's important for caregivers and parents to take care of themselves both physically and mentally. It's essential to get sleep, enjoy hobbies and take personal time. Your child with diabetes and your family will all benefit from that. So feel free to vent. I just did. It's not JUST diabetes, but it's not going to stop us!

     

    Source:

    Serious illness in childhood: the different threats of cancer and diabetes from a patient perspective The Journal of Pediatrics, Volume 145, Issue 3, September 2004, pages 373-379 Krister K. Boman, Jonas Viksten, Per Kogner and Ulf Samuelsson.


    Received 30 January 2004; revised 29 April 2004; accepted 19 May 2004. Available online 1 September 2004.

Published On: December 05, 2007