As part of Diabetes Awareness Month, four guest bloggers will write a blog about diabetes awareness each Monday. This is the first installment, written by caregiver Shannon Lewis.
When my son, Brendon, was diagnosed in November 2002, the endocrinologist on duty at the hospital told my husband and I that we would become experts in diabetes. More so than the doctors when it came to the direct care of our son.
I thought to myself: How can that be? Up until then I didn't know the difference between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. I thought insulin somehow played a role in causing diabetes. I also didn't understand the JDRF billboards I often saw on the NJ Turnpike that said, "Diabetes hurts children." The poster child on the billboard looked perfectly healthy.
I also thought anyone who had diabetes was destined to leg amputations and kidney failure. I knew a few elderly adults who had diabetes, and that is what happened to them.
So here I was at the point of my son's diagnosis, a person absolutely ignorant about what diabetes was all about.
The diabetes nurse educator and the nurses on staff were so patient and empathetic with us and taught us everything we needed to know about caring for our son. I was scared about doing something wrong and had very little confidence that I could pull off managing his diabetes properly. With the daily guidance of his diabetes team, I gained courage and confidence. Today, I am happy to say I know quite a bit about diabetes.
Because of my severe ignorance of diabetes pre-diagnosis, I am very understanding of the lack of awareness people have of diabetes. Diabetes is a complicated disease in the first place, so I can't possibly expect the average laymen to know anything about the things I know today.
In my own small part, I make people aware of diabetes by testing and dosing Brendon in the open while out at a public place. We inform everyone who comes into contact with Brendon about his diabetes. We tell them he has it, that he can eat what he wants, but must know the carb count so that he can be dosed accordingly. We teach anyone who will be with him for more than a couple of hours during the day how to use glucagon in case of an emergency.
We make people aware of diabetes by not hiding it. We talk openly about it, while understanding that people don't want to hear every last detail about the disease. We tell them just enough to get them by, unless they want to know more.
That is the small part I play in making people aware of diabetes and helping to educate them.
Perhaps with more knowledge under their belt, they'll be more inclined to relate better and therefore, be open to learn more about it.
It is my hope then, that friends and family will spread the word and make others aware too.
Shannon Lewis is a stay-at-home mother whose 7-year-old son, Brendon, was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in November 2002. He has been on the Cozmo pump for four years. Shannon started her blog, Mom Wants A Diabetes Cure, as a way to reach out to other parents who really understand what it's like to manage their children's diabetes because it can be a misunderstood and lonely occupation.
She lives in New Hampshire with her husband, Jeff, and their three children.
Published On: November 05, 2007