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Question:

I am 18 years old and was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes about a year and a half ago. It was a hard time adjusting to this, and no one in my family understood quit what I was going through. Eventually, I got through it but now my little sisters (ages 17 and 13) were diagnosed with it about two months ago. My 13 year old sister seems to be adjusting well, but my 17 year old sister isn't. I have moved away to go to college so I can't be there for them.

We are all active in sports, and during one game, my 17 year old sister's nose started to bleed and wouldn't stop. I went in the bathroom to see what was happening, and she broke down crying, saying how she hated this and why does she have to be different. Her grades are dropping, and it scares me to death.

My mom is not adjusting well, and I know she isn't helping them because she really bothered me when I was first diagnosed. I can't help but worry about my sisters. I want them all to know and understand that we are normal. I think counseling would help us all, but what I want to know is, in what way can I help my sisters without me actually being there to tell them that it's okay?

Answer:

From what you write in your letter, it sounds as if you no longer live at home. Is that true? If you do live at home, you might wish to find someplace (a restaurant, a park) to take your sisters to where the three of you can all talk about what its like to live with diabetes. If you do not live near home and can not easily meet with them face to face, you might want to plan some time when you can all be on the telephone together.

As far as counseling, I think that's a wonderful idea. You might wish to talk to someone from your diabetes team that might be able to recommend a psychologist or other mental health professional who has experience in working with families with diabetes. I'd encourage you to try and attend that first meeting, even if you are out of town. Also, do not become discouraged if your mom does not attend the session -- even if it's only your sisters that go, it should help.

JWB

DTQ-20020129191116
Original posting 15 Feb 2002
Posted to Other Social Issues

  
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Last Updated: Tuesday April 06, 2010 15:09:30
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