You can’t quite believe this happened, but your child was recently diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. Now, you are understandably scared, exhausted, worried about what the future will bring and filled with questions. Sadly, you are not alone in your situation; approximately 1.25 million children and adults in the U.S. have type 1 diabetes, and about 193,000 people under the age of 20 are estimated to have diabetes, or about .24 percent of the young population.
While there is definitely a learning curve for you and your child in relation to type 1 diabetes, it is manageable. For example, the following tips can help you get through the next several months and beyond:
Learn all that you can
It is important for you and your child to work very closely with your new health care team and take advantage of the state-of-the-art medications and technologies that are available for people to use. The team, which will include your pediatrician, an endocrinologist and diabetes educator, will all help teach you and your child how to check blood sugar levels, calculate how much insulin to take, make changes to the family diet and more. If you and your child stay on top of the learning and keep the blood sugar levels normal, your son or daughter should be just fine.
Make sure you have proper insurance coverage
It is also a good idea to check in with your health insurance company to make sure your current plan covers everything your child will need to manage his or her type 1 diabetes. By being aware of your coverage, you can stay healthy — both financially and physically. Also, as your child gets older, he or she may need to look into individual health insurance options as well as family plans. If you are not happy with your current insurance coverage, it is wise to shop around for a new plan; you can learn more about their insurance plans by visiting their website or you can give them a call to look into family plans as well as individual options.
It’s okay to feel sad and overwhelmed
When a child is diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, it is perfectly normal to go through the stages of grief. It is okay to grieve the loss of your healthy child and be sad about having to count carbs every single day and learning to give insulin shots. If you are feeling any of these completely common and understandable emotions, please don’t hold them in — give yourself permission to experience a variety of feelings and try to find at least one friend or family member who will allow you to vent at any time about what is going on. Your pediatrician might also refer you to a parents group where you can meet other moms and dads whose kiddos have type 1 diabetes.
Work on improving your family’s diet
When your child is diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, it essentially impacts the entire family’s diet. The food in your home should now be as healthy as possible for your son or daughter, and will include plenty of fruits and veggies, proteins, multigrain starches and more. Also, resist the temptation to let your other kids drink pop and eat Twinkies — at least most of the time. To help your newly-diagnosed, it’s important that you have a “we are all in this together” attitude and come up with exercises you can all do together and work with all of your kids on new recipes to try.
In time, it will get easier
While you feel understandably overwhelmed right now, in time it will start to get a lot easier. You might speak with your child’s pediatrician or endocrinologist about getting an insulin pump down the road, and work with them to stay on top of the latest treatments. You and your child will get this diagnosis under control and your son or daughter — as well as you — will get through this together.