10 Things to Do After Your Child's Diabetes Diagnosis
Mar 26, 2012 (updated Mar 1, 2014)
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It can come as quite a blow to learn that your child has diabetes, but keep in mind that many, many people live with this condition.
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Handling the diabetes diagnosis
It usually comes as a shock to learn that your child has diabetes. After the initial shock, you may feel anger, sadness, denial, or possibly even acceptance. These emotions can make it hard to learn everything you need to about diabetes. It is important to know that the team of doctors, dieticians, psychologists and others are there to help you and your child. Always be willing to ask for support.
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Find the best diabetes care
Finding the right diabetes program for your child is essential. It must include a physician experienced in the type of diabetes your child has (Type 1 or Type 2), a diabetes nurse educator and a dietician. It is a good idea to also have a dependable psychosocial team on hand. Finally, a reliable connection to a hospital accustomed to helping children and teens is a good idea, which most diabetes teams have.
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Do your diabetes reading
All of the medical jargon can be overwhelming at first, but eventually you will understand the terms and be using them like a pro. In order to get to this point, you must read all of the material the diabetes team gives you, which are usually written so non-medical professionals can follow. Be cautious when reading web sites, some are great sources of information while others are inaccurate. Be sure to verify what you've read with your diabetes team.
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Interact with your diabetes team
Your diabetes team is there to help you, so make sure you maintain a good relationship with them. Most diabetes programs will teach skills needed right after the diagnosis and then again later in a course called "concepts". Ask all of your questions while there. Schedule your next appointment so you will be seen in a timely manner and before going, make checklists of things you want to discuss.
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Tell others about your child's diabetes diagnosis
A diabetes diagnosis is not something to keep to yourself. It is important to talk to family members, your child's teachers, coaches and even friends about the diagnosis and what it means. This is vital so there is no misunderstanding and, if necessary, they can help/care for your child.
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Keep an eye on diabetes research
There isn't a cure for diabetes, yet. However, lots of research is being done to find one for both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. Keep an eye on the studies and if you are interested, look into clinical trials. Your diabetes team can most likely tell you about national and local studies, or the institution you go to may be conducting its own research and trials.
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Work out insurance
Diabetes treatment is expensive, so it is really important to have insurance. Make sure you understand your insurance, or if you don't have any, then you need to get health insurance. Advocate for what you need. Ask your diabetes team to help you get coverage as soon as possible and to explain the different plans. Everyone can get insurance for children and teens, either privately or through Medicaid.
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Talk with others about diabetes
Talking to others who understand what you are going through on a daily basis as the parent of a child with diabetes, is quite helpful. Reach out to support groups like the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and American Diabetes Association and you will find others with similar experiences. You can help each other by simply talking or swapping tips.
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Work with your child's school
Cooperate with the school nurse and learn about 504 plans. Have your child bring all necessary supplies (including back-ups) to school and talk with the kid's coaches and teachers. Prepare, with the school, for any potential disasters where your child may be stuck there for a while. Plus, explain to your child that they should tell their friends and others about diabetes and how it is managed.
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Give you and your family time to adjust
It takes time to get the hang of living with a child or family member who has diabetes. Certain lifestlye changes must be made, but eventually you will find a rhythm like you had before - a new "normal". You and your child will become accustomed to treatments and realize that, with a little extra planning, you can do practically everything you did before.