Letter to a new T1 Parent

2 Aug

To the parents that have just discovered their child has Type 1 Diabetes:

First of all, you need hugs.  Please cry, get mad, grieve.  Punch a pillow.  Scream in a pillow.  I  will cry with you as I spent many days crying over this disease as well.  But don’t cry in front of your child.  Be strong.  Be brave.  Be matter of fact. Save the crying for later.  And the screaming.

No, it’s not easy.  At all.  But those shots that your child has to take is now life.  Checking blood sugar every few hours is your child’s life.  And as a parent, it is now yours too.  And the best way to help your child is to take a deep breath, tell them it stings for a second, then it’s over.  And do it.  Quickly.  Even with the tears.

Get your child a new toy.  Get them every character Band-Aid that is found in stores.  You know, the cool ones with Finding Dory, Disney Princesses, or Pokemon.  Better yet, let your child pick them out. Take them to a movie or buy a new Blue Ray.  Buy a new pillow to hit.  Buy an extra for your kid.  Because the fact is, this stinks and if you can make it a tiny bit more fun, make it fun!

Buy lots of juice boxes.  And candy.  And, though it sounds odd, cake frosting or syrup is awesome too.  Anything that can raise a blood sugar up quickly because you will have blood sugar lows.  Make sure you fill that scary looking prescription glucagon.  Carry them everywhere.  If you have them, you might not need to use them.  But you’d rather have one that you don’t use than not have one when you need one.

Because you will forget it, buy an extra kit.  And then buy an extra one after that for school.  Just make sure the test strips work in all of them.  Keep one on you and the other at home, in your car, anywhere you need it often.  Did I mention lots of test strips and alcohol swabs?

You will find out who you can trust to help take care of your child.  When you do, make sure you take time away from dabetes.  Go somewhere, anywhere for any period of time, and challenge yourself not to count carbs or think about testing blood sugar.  But keep your cell phone on you.  Just in case.  And smile when you didn’t have to answer a text or call.

Find a parent support group.  Either in person, online, wherever.  Somewhere where you can ask questions, vent, do whatever you need to do with others that get it.  This is a good place to do the screaming.  And the crying.

Find the right Endocrinologist for you.  Even if one seems good and has done a good job, if it doesn’t feel like it fits try a different one.  You need to be able to fully trust someone who is leading you through this life.  You have to be comfortable asking questions, caring for your child, and adjusting insulin doses.  You want someone who can talk to your child and help them understand what they need to do in life.  Notice I say talk to your child.  Because even if you are doing most of the care right now, they are learning.  Eventually they will do it on their own.  And they need to know how to do that.

It’s a lot.  Believe me, I get it.  You’re scared, overwhelmed, worried, and I’m sorry to say that will always be there.  But it does get easier.  And your child will feel better soon.  And THAT is worth every single hard moment.


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