When my son was diagnosed with type-one diabetes, the whole family went through an adjustment. Suddenly there was a new dynamic, a new level of caring, and a new level of worry. What parent wouldn’t trade places with their afflicted child, carrying the burden themselves in exchange for a child’s health?
As a pediatric specialist and mother, I understand how and why parents strive to do everything they can to help their children. I also appreciate how dealing with a sudden and serious illness can bring on feelings of powerlessness.
Many moms and dads dive into research and read everything they come across. There is no right way to handle this kind of news. The moment illness strikes, life splits in two: before and after. And it’s normal to yearn to get back to before.
But the power is in the after, which is the present and the future. Life does go on, and eventually your family’s new normal feels just that way . . . normal.
For me, meeting other parents of children with diabetes was so beneficial. I learned helpful tips like the best snacks to pack for vacations and how to better help my son regulate his insulin. Knowing you’re not alone is powerful and integral to coping with illness. Not only did we share tips and resources, we also became a group that could comfort one another, whether with laughter or tears.
My son’s health will always be a top priority but our lives don’t revolve around it. Diabetes became a part of my son’s identity, but it didn’t become his whole identity.
My daughter, too, added it to her identity. She’s participated in several diabetes fundraisers, and she participated in a clinical trial that is helping to determine risk factors in family members as well as studying prevention, delay, and reverse progression. (Learn more at diabetestrialnet.org.)
Understanding medical information is crucial for children living with a disease like diabetes. Knowledge is power, and as girls and boys learn more about their illnesses, they become empowered to live with confidence and without worry.
As a doctor and a mother, I know it’s hard to cope with your feelings when your child has an illness. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and to use support systems.
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