Back to Parent' Voices Pinki Kiljunen

Son's diagnosis was quite a bomb

"Mom, can I have one more waffle?" 7-year-old Niko asks his mom Pinki Kiljunen at the coffee table. "You can have 2 more," says mom to her son who smiles and runs off back to his games.

Thinking of eating is everyday matter to the family. Niko was diagnosed bit over a year ago with juvenile diabetes. "It was quite a bomb. I was at the class trip in England with my older son, when Niko started to have symptoms," tells near-nurse Pinki Kiljunen. Her son had lost some weight during the summer, but everyone was blaming all the exercise and the hot summer. The rest of the family at home thought that his feelings were caused by him missing mom.

"When we came home I knew everything wasn't as it should be. There were a lot of things going around my mind. Then I got it. Since there were some relatives and friends with diabetes."

Son's blood sugars were sky-high

"I don't know for how long they have been so high. At the 6 years check up they don't even check urine sugars, if no one says their doubts out loud. Niko had to stay 2 days in the intensive care unit," remembers Kiljunen.

Everyday routines

Mom-Pinki took charge right away, learned how to give shots and how to count his food. When everything was covered Niko was released from the hospital.

"Due to a relative being type1 too there was some knowledge already. From the beginning Niko has realized the importance of taking care of his diabetes. Once in the start he asked me when is this needling over. Now everyday life is handled mostly with routines," tells mom. Even if she had some knowledge of the disease, there was a huge hunger to find out more.

"I read a lot and surfed the Internet. From there I have found help for my practical problems as well as support, tells Kiljunen. The best source was found at US web-pages I don't think we'd survive without these pages. We have found many new friends from there who live all around the world. We get support and can solve problems at the mailing list. People know how we feel," says Kiljunen.

One funny example in Internet help relates to her kids beloved dessert jello. "I had no idea how much I could give it to Niko. There were no carb counts in the box. So I went and typed the question to net and 10 minutes later I had the serving-size, a promise from a mom to send me sugar free Jell-o from US and a Norwegian mom's recipe to make it myself."

Sharing the knowledge

Taking care of 3 children, home and work Pinki Kiljunen seems to have energy not only finding the info, but also sharing it. "In January I'll start as the co-host of Lappeenranta diabetes society's parents' club. I hope from the bottom of my heart that the club starts fresh and active after a slow year. I would have needed the support year ago," says Kiljunen. She reminds that the club is also important for the children.

"Only another diabetic child knows how these kids feel. In the club, both children and parents can share their experiences or just have a nice evening without pressure. It would also be important to get such a group where kids can find a babysitter. It's not that easy to find a babysitter for child with diabetes."

Pinki Kiljunen can be reached via e-mail at pinkikiljunen[@]

Published November 19, 2000

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