Marissa's DiagnosisOur daughter was diagnosed with diabetes on September 5, 1989. She had just received her two year check-up and the pediatrician missed the obvious symptoms of diabetes: weight loss, thirst and, for girls, a yeast infection. After an extra week of soaking two Ultra Pampers per night and being unable to rid her of the yeast infection, we took her back to the pediatrician and demanded that she be tested for diabetes. She couldn't urinate on command (how many two year olds can?), so she was fitted with a urine collection bag and we went home. By the time she filled the bag and we got it back to the doctor's office it was nearly 5:00 pm, on a Friday. Rather than simply dipping a ketone test strip into the urine, the doctor sent the urine to an outside lab for testing, meaining we'd have to wait three days (since it was Labor Day weekend) for the results. By the time we got the (obvious) results back on Tuesday, I (Jeff) had left on a business trip. Brenda rushed her to the hospital for a week of treatments and education, and I cut short the trip and returned home.
Our daughter had a blast at the hospital. She watched the emergency helicopter land and played with other children, some really very ill, in the large play room. We learned quickly that no matter how serious and disruptive diabetes is, there are far worse afflictions. We learned how to do blood tests (ouch!) and give shots (no big deal) and went home, confident in our ability to manage her diabetes.
20-20 HindsightBoy, were we overconfident and unprepared! There was so much no one told us, probably because no one knew. Caring for a very young child with diabetes is a real challenge. After over six years now, we have learned much about what works and what doesn't, and what "professionals" really know about the day-to-day management of children with diabetes.
AdviceWe offer the following advice to newly diagnosed parents:
- Always, always, always remember that your child is a child first. Don't make them feel diabetic first.
- Make sure that you still make time for yourselves. That means finding a baby sitter who is old enough to deal with diabetes. We've never had a problem. (We also let our daughter's sugar run a bit high on nights that we go out.)
- No matter how much it scares you, don't let on to your child.
- Find an ADA sleep-over camp in your area and send your child as soon as they are old enough. Your child will have a blast (and learn to be more self-reliant) and you will learn how to let go, a little bit at a time. You can also use this time to take that vacation alone that the two of you have always planned.
- Never, ever punish your child for having a high blood sugar, even if they ate something that they weren't supposed to eat. Punishing your child for poor sugar readings leads to teenagers who reprogram their meters and fake test results. You can always work in special treats by giving more insulin.
- Finally, remember that it's your child's life to live. One day they will move away from you. Teach them how to care for their diabetes themselves.
Last Updated: Wednesday March 16, 2005 16:44:50
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