Diabetes Awareness: What is Type 1 Diabetes and What Do Parents of Newly Diagnosed Children Need to Know?

This week I am participating in Diabetes Blog Week where blogs from the DOC (Diabetes Online Community) write about specific topics so people can hear a variety of angles of different subjects. So here is today’s post topic:

Message Monday – 
Lets kick off the week by talking about why we are here, in the diabetes blog space. What is the most important diabetes awareness message to you? Why is that message important for you, and what are you trying to accomplish by sharing it on your blog?

I think an important message for my blog is to help parents of newly diagnosed children know they are not alone and there is a great online group of support. I want them to feel confident in their abilities to parent a child with diabetes and know that their child can still be a child, he/she will just need some extra care and they will need to learn a “new normal” for their lives.

What is Type 1 Diabetes?

One huge thing people living with type 1 diabetes experience is comments from people who do not know the difference in type 1 and type 2. We hear all kinds of crazy things from people trying to “help” by telling us about different things that can cure diabetes. As of right now, there is no cure for diabetes. Most of the people who give advice only know about type 2 diabetes where people are told to lose weight, cut the carbs, not eat sugar.

Type 1 diabetes is totally different. It is an autoimmune disease where the body sent out antibodies to fight something and it got messed up and starting fighting off and killing the good things, the cells that make insulin. People with type 1 do not make insulin and have to take insulin shots. So no matter how good they eat, they still need insulin. No matter what they ate before, it didn’t cause diabetes. There is no known cause or cure.

What New Parents of Type 1 Diabetes Kids Need to Know:

  • Get Education.  Find a CDE (Certified Diabetes Educator) and RD (Registered Dietitian) who work with children and type 1 diabetes. The amount of information you need to know is overwhelming. All of a sudden you have to start doing all this extra stuff, remember to take supplies with you everytime you leave the house, work with the school and others caring for your children, figure out what to eat and how much insulin to give, and so much more just to take care of your child. I have found it better to meet over a period of days so that the information can sink in and you can ask questions of things that have come up.
    • Also, get some helpful books on caring for your child. I have several I like in the Resources section of this blog. The more you know, the more in control you will feel.
  • Find Support. Knowing you are not alone in this huge change in your life is so helpful. There are multiple Facebook groups that are very active with people asking questions and getting support all the time. Just search in facebook for diabetes and children. For younger children, there is a group called Diabetes and Diapers.
  • Know that it will be ok. I know that it is very overwhelming in the beginning and you might be filled with all these terrible emotions feeling like it’s the end of the world for your child. It’s ok to grieve and that is normal. You are grieving losing a child without a chronic medical condition. Know that your child can still do great things and do most anything he or she wants, just with some extra care and attention. Things will get better and you will feel more comfortable and more confident.

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Author: Carol

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