Allison - posted on 12/02/2008 ( 8 moms have responded )
I joined this group not because I have a child with diabetes (none of our three kids do) but because I have Type 1 and have since 1983, when I was diagnosed at 18 years old. I just want to let you know that diabetes has actually been a great positive in my life. I have had it now for over 25 years with no complications, I went through three uneventful pregnancies with the help of my wonderful insulin pump, and I am much more aware of what I put into my body and how food, exercise and illness can affect my overall feeling of well-being. I am HARDLY perfect in my control, but I do pretty well (A1C's at 7%) despite not getting enough exercise.
Especially these days, with abundant medical evidence on the positive results of frequent blood glucose testing; cool tools like injector pens, continuous glucose monitors and insulin pumps; and the amazing availability of substitute sweeteners and low-carb, low-glycemic-index foods, I can say there has never been a better time to have diabetes. The routine is really just the way everyone should eat and take care of themselves.
For me, the secrets to a healthy life with diabetes include the following:
1) It is essential to become comfortable with blood glucose testing and to turn to it as a comfort, not a chore. I always feel better when I know what my bG is - it's the first step in my self-treatment at any given moment. (I test 4-6x a day.)
2) A good medical team including a doctor who specializes in diabetes or at least endocrinology; a diabetes educator; a nutritionist; and an eye doctor who specializes in patients with diabetes. If you can join this team and take advantage of their knowledge and advice, your child will be in great shape.
3) Exercise is an amazing blood glucose stabilizer, in addition to having great mental benefits. Regular moderate exercise helps keep my sugars in line like no amount of food control could ever do alone.
I know that the medical team and the frequent testing can be cost issues; for those with insurance, the costs of diabetes prevention are pretty well-covered. If you don't have insurance, it's tough - but don't forsake the testing if you can help it. It's really the only way you can tell yourself how you're doing on a day-to-day basis.
The point of this very long post is to give you all confidence that your children can lead glorious, healthy, productive and satisfying lives with diabetes - and that it can even become something that they look on as a positive (although it might take a while for everyone to get to that point!). Along with a friend, I've founded a program that was sponsored by the ADA called "Kids Rock The World" - an empowerment program for teens with diabetes. It is amazing to see how one day together can convince these kids that diabetes can't stop them from living a life they love.
As parents we worry - and it's really hard when your child has something like diabetes if you don't have any experience with it. But learn along with them, be their partner and encourage their independence at age-appropriate levels. This will be their condition to manage for a lifetime; you are their first partner and teacher, but (as with all things we do for our children) our real job is to help them find their wings to fly solo.
Good luck to all of you - please write if you have any questions for me!