I remember well when Josh, my son, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2006. I had taken him to the doctor because my husband noticed some of the symptoms of diabetes.
The pediatrician said he would check his blood sugar, but since he was not showing many symptoms of diabetes, he said he doubted it was diabetes. Imagine our surprise when he came back in and said his blood sugar was 280. We saw an endocrinologist that day and had to quickly learn how to check blood sugars, give insulin shots, what to do for lows and highs, along with a whole book full of information. I can remember feeling overwhelmed, wondering why this was happening, what I could do to make it go away, wishing it was me with diabetes instead of him, and just crying behind closed doors for days.
There was a lot of adjustment to our lives we had to make. I had to remember to grab insulin, meter, snacks, etc each time we left the house. I even had to get a bigger purse! We stocked the cars with low blood sugar foods. We had to educate grandparents, friends’ parents, and teachers. We had to learn to remember to count every bite that goes in his mouth.
Things got better over time, and we learned a new normal. We all adjusted and things were going smoothly and his diabetes was well controlled. I even remember visiting the American Diabetes Association message boards and commenting to a mom of a newly diagnosed child that things would get back to normal and they would survive.
Then, nine months later, my six year old daughter started wetting the bed at night, after years of dry beds. After three nights, it dawned on me to check her blood sugar. It was 350. I went into shock again and was up all night worrying and wondering how a six year old girl could handle diabetes. I wondered how she could take care of it at school in kindergarten, how she could wear an insulin pump with a dress, what I would do when she went over to friends’ homes, etc.
She saw our endocrinologist that day and started on insulin. I was so overwhelmed watching what she ate, testing her blood sugars, and giving insulin, that the following week at our appointment the first thing I asked was “Can she get a pump?” She was started on an insulin pump within a month and things were less stressed, even with the challenges of a kindergartener using a pump.
We’ve learned over time how to manage the different challenges of both children, though we still are learning as they move onto different developmental ages. We all adapted over time, their blood sugars are under control, and our emotional health has remained intact. That’s not to say we do not have challenges pop up at times, or even our “I hate diabetes!” days. But we have learned that all will be alright, they can live happy, productive lives, and we have adjusted to a “new normal”.
My hope is that you learn that you will make it through this tough time and not only survive, but learn to thrive as you adjust to a “new normal” life with diabetes. It does get better!