My Child Has Diabetes

What do you do when your child is diagnosed with diabetes? Mary Kate Cary shares her insight in to being the parent of a child with type 1 diabetes.

By Mary Kate Cary

Finding out your child has type 1 diabetes can be terrifying, and figuring out how to work diabetes care management into your life can be downright overwhelming. If you are a two-parent family, sit down, cry a little, and then read this list together and divide up the tasks. Communication between parents as you approach the steep diabetes learning curve will be essential. Below you'll find a checklist for parents of newly diagnosed children with diabetes.

If you are a single parent, don’t be overwhelmed! The tasks may seem a lot to handle, but as you build a routine it will become much easier.

1. First of all, don’t panic. Right now you probably feel overwhelmed, confused and scared for your child. That’s normal. But keep in mind that type 1 diabetes is not what it used to be. There are still many myths about diabetes because until insulin was discovered in the 1920s, it was a fatal disease. Now, it is a very manageable chronic disease. The medical establishment has been hard at work, both in terms of treatment and a cure, at making diabetes less of a threat than it ever was before. These days, kids with diabetes can do everything other kids can do—sports teams, vacations, pizza parties—you name it. It’s hard to believe, but eventually diabetes will just become one more part of your child’s life that you’ll teach them to manage. And there are plenty of families who are willing to help you.

2. Educate yourself. Diabetes is a very complicated disease with a pretty steep learning curve, and the doctors may be using terms you’ve never heard before. Take a few minutes to learn the basics first, and read through our list of terms so you’re up to speed. Then, set aside some time to delve into more details about diabetes. In addition to the materials your doctor may have given you, you may want to check out some Web sites. It’s easy to become obsessed with the details of diabetes and its treatment, especially at the beginning. Keep in mind that your child needs you right now, and you need to be as supportive and attentive as possible—rather than distracted and reading endlessly. You have the rest of your life to learn about this disease. You only have a few days to set the tone for how your family is going to handle it.

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