Sometimes I wonder why we got picked to raise a diabetic child, a mentally challenged child and a child with no special needs. At times this has been a pervasive thought of mine. However, in the last year I have come to a peace about my children that I had never had before. There was no magic formula, just day to day living and a level of patience that grows every day. When my husband and I had just gotten comfortable with the extent of our daughter's special needs, our three year old son Drew was diagnosed with diabetes. How unfair to be celebrating his third birthday one week and then having to learn about insulin, meters, carbohydrates and fingersticks the next week. However on the whole scheme of things, I suppose we accepted Drew's diagnosis much sooner than the average family. I don't mean to imply that we have superior coping skills, only that we look at things differently because of our daughter. Her problems make diabetes look fairly manageable.
I learned early on as a parent that I am my children's best advocate. When Drew was diagnosed, our goal was to keep him as normal a kid as possible. That meant that after his diagnosis in December 1995, he would go back to his regular pre-school program in January. Even though our CDE had done a morning of education with the staff and I had prepped his teacher and the director a thousand times, it was a horrible experience to leave him that first month. However, I carried a cell phone with me at all times and pretty much stuck close to home. Leaving him is getting easier for me, but I really empathise with parents who have very young diabetics. When I finally made it clear to the center that sugar checks are the key to everything, life really settled down as far as school was concerned. The staff at the preschool has really had to work hard for Drew. They are committed in their desire for him to be a normal kid also. They are clear of their expectations of Drew because we stood firm behind our desire to keep him in his activities at the pre-school.
Things have also gotten much easier for us as Drew's verbal skills have increased. Not only is he able to communicate with us more accurately about how is feels physically but also how he feels emotionally. I think it is so good for kids to be able to say "I HATE DIABETES and SHOTS and TESTS and DIET COKES and LAB WORK etc...." When Drew started opening up and telling me these things I felt like we had surpassed a major milestone in his life. We have worked hard to respect his feelings. Our kids so deserve this!
I think we sometimes forgot the children in the background who don't have an illness or disability. Truthfully. I have to work very hard at making him feel special too because of all the care that Drew and my daughter need at times. I so admire him when he consoles Drew after a low or helps his sissy down the steps. He is truly a trooper also!
Kids now a days are so smart and technology is so amazing that I only look for diabetic management to get easier and easier. It seems like at some point that diabetes will only be a small part of our lives and not the large part that it entails now. I personally just want a whole night's restful sleep without the worry of a low! I think that this day is coming soon.
Our best wishes to anyone reading this, especially newly diagnosed families. From our experience, it will get easier to deal with each and every day. If anyone would like to email me I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Original posting: 9 May 98
Last Updated: Wednesday March 16, 2005 15:45:03
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