How to Help a Friend

Things to do for a friend whose child has been newly diagnosed

Read Mary Kate's blog.

  • Drop dinner off, but make it either low-carb (say, a roasted chicken, salad, veggies) or one that has nutrition labels and clearly marked servings, so that it’ll be easy to compute carbs. Your friends will be new to carb-counting, and even a convenient pizza is too hard to guess the carbs. Whatever you do, do not send a casserole—too hard to guess the serving size, the ingredients and the amount the child has eaten—and if they’re wrong, the child’s blood sugar will be either too high or too low.
  • Offer to clear out a kitchen shelf or space in the linen closet and organize the diabetes supplies. If space is limited, purchase an under-the-bed storage box to go under the parents’ bed or the child’s bed. Seeing all the medical supplies arrive could be overwhelming for them, and having no place to put them is even worse.
  • Bring binders, dividers, tabs and a hole punch, and offer to organize all the diabetes information. It will probably be a pretty big pile—blood sugar logs, checklists from the doctor, information about the disease, insurance information, etc. Feeling organized is therapeutic.
  • Organize a night at your house for the parents of the children who regularly have playdates with the newly diagnosed child. It will give your friends a night off from their child, and it will give them an opportunity to talk to the other parents about what they’ll need to be aware of during playdates, such as the signs of low blood sugar. You might want to have a sheet of paper with instructions and emergency contact information. You could supply each parent with a roll of SweetTarts or a tube of Cakemate frosting to put in a safe place at their house in case the child goes low. Most parents will be extremely supportive, because they know this could just as easily have happened to their child.

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