Managing Type 1 Diabetes: Appreciate Your Support System

Beth McNamara Health Guide
  • The holidays are a tough time for a lot of people. For those managing diabetes, the holidays can really stink. Every party, gathering, get-together presents a new challenge, requires uber-control and one misstep (like popping an enticing morsel into one's mouth) can send the BG readings through the roof.

    This past holiday season was particularly hard for our family. Not only were we navigating all of the carb-laden temptations of various get-togethers, we also celebrated my son's fourteenth birthday in mid-December - his first birthday with Type 1 diabetes.

    Then, complementing and amplifying the underlying stress, hubbub and sometimes forced joviality of the season was my recalling last year's holiday time, when I suspected that something was wrong with my son, but I couldn't figure out what. Each passing day and traditional event - from getting our Christmas tree to attending the annual neighborhood caroling party - made me recall the previous year and a particular symptom of diabetes that my son had begun to exhibit at that time. All this culminated with the final holiday of the season and another commemorative event: the anniversary of his diabetes diagnosis on New Year's Eve.

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    Everyone deals with New Year's differently, and this year I decided to look forward rather than dwelling on the behind. I have to agree with Kerri Morone-Sparling: New Year's Resolutions are crap. However I did resolve to do something positive as I embark on 2010: recognizing the people who have made our lives easier on this often difficult journey. 

    As I recounted the last twelve months, our first year managing diabetes, I realized that many people have come to our side to make our lives much easier and to make me, as a mother, feel as if someone is looking out for my son when I cannot. These folks are beyond my family, friends and our son's diabetes management team, and here's who topped my list to pay special thanks to:

    • The team at our local Rite-Aid pharmacy has offered ongoing advice and support from the initial diagnosis. We've had instances where we've waited until the last minute to fill a prescription (not that uncommon, I know), or have had a refill denied by our insurance carrier, often for a paper work error, and every time the pharmacists have worked with us to ensure that we have enough insulin or test strips to get through the day, night or weekend until a new shipment arrives, or the insurance issues can be rectified. My husband and I are in that Rite-Aid frequently, often rushing on our way to or from work which can be stressful, yet that pharmacist's team is nothing but patient with us even we're at our wit's end.
    • The public school nurse and clinic aid at my son's middle school have gone the extra mile to ensure that he is receiving the right care when he needs it. This can be no small feat; our public school nurse divides her time among three or four schools and our clinic aid has about 900 students to handle. Both communicate with my husband and me immediately with any issues or questions. Our nurse has also done research and reading on the specific type of pump that my son uses.
    • The front office staff, particularly the secretary, at my son's school, are constantly on the look out for him. Shortly after my son's diagnosis, the secretary began to keep in her desk granola bars and some change for the snack machine that I had sent in for him to get something eat during after school activities. It was she, a mother of three teenage boys, who offered me sage words after I'd dismissed her complement of how well my son manages his diabetes by rebutting that I wished he'd pay as much attention to his grades. She'd paused and said, "But he's worrying about the most important thing: his health."

    I hope everyone is able to find and recognize people -- maybe we call them angels -- that help them manage and navigate the rocky road of diabetes. And may this year brings a smooth road for all. 


Published On: January 07, 2010