My son was two months shy of his third birthday when he was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. In an instant, we went from everyday normal playing and enjoying life with our family and friends to being completely overwhelmed and bombarded with new and scary information.
We, as parents, have a huge effect on how our children will react to the unknown. I always try to make an effort not to let my own fears and worries become my children’s; this was no different.
This was Jordan’s first time in a hospital (other than his birth) and I didn’t want it to scare him. I knew if we act scared, angry or upset, he will likely do the same.
So, I wanted act like this was not a big deal… but it was. I WAS scared and upset. I WAS worried. I knew if I kept thinking about how upset I was that it would show and I didn’t want Jordan to see that.
I decided to focus on the things I could be grateful for, rather than the negative and uncertainty. When I started to think about it, there were actually a lot of things that came to mind, but here are the four that really got us through:
1. Medical coverage: I still do not understand how people without coverage afford to take care of their diabetes. It is EXTREMELY expensive! Even with coverage, in the first month we spent over $600 on supplies. And that was barely enough for a month. The test strips alone cost almost a dollar each (we use an average of 8 a day now, even more back then: $250-$300/month). Then there is the insulin pump. The average cost of an insulin pump is about $7800. Thank goodness in BC those are covered (a new one every 5 years up to age 25).
2. Timing: I was on maternity leave from work. In a way, this was more stressful since we also had a 7 week old baby to tend to. However, even the hospital staff were recommending to parents of newly diagnosed children that one parent stay home (as in quit their job permanently) to care for the child. I was working to put my husband through a four year nursing program that he was halfway through. We didn’t want him to drop out of school and if he was in school I couldn’t quit my job. Since I was only a few months into my year off, we had some time to figure things out.
3. Support: We were very lucky to find such a good support system in our family and friends. Both my mother and mother-in-law were interested in learning the day to day needs of their grandson, learning about blood sugar, how to check it and what to do when it’s too high or too low. There were also a few close friends who wanted to learn so that they could babysit if we needed it.
4. If it had to be something: I did not find as much comfort as my husband did with this one but it’s worth mentioning. He always said, “if he has to have something, diabetes isn’t the worst thing it could be.” This is very true. We had to be grateful that it was something manageable and that Jordan would be able to live a relatively normal life with diabetes. I never bought into the idea that it “had to be something” in the first place, but that tends to bring you down a road of “why did it have to be MY son?” and that’s not a good way to think of it, because there is no reason, it just is.
These things have helped me stay positive since the beginning and still help when I find myself feeling sad about Jordan’s diabetes. My husband and I have managed to make everything seem so “normal” for Jordan that he has only in the last few months started to ask why his friends don’t have to check their blood sugar.
He gets frustrated from time to time, but we have shown him that it’s just a part of life. It’s nothing to be scared of, upset or embarrassed about. Diabetes will be with him for the rest of his life, but it won’t BE his life.