Your child just got diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. Now What?
Step one: breathe. This is a major life changer for both you and your child. Everything from now on will be different. Within the span of a few hours you'll know more about bolusing, Dexcom, and hypoglycemia—words you had never even heard of—than you'll care to admit. But, as our amazing Diabetes Educator told us a few minutes after diagnosis, "In one week this will be your new normal." Absolutely true.
Step two: Remember how many people live perfectly normal and successful lives with T1D. Nick Jonas, Bret Michaels, Anne Rice.... As our doctor told us from day one, "you can still do anything you want in life."
(Notice how caring, competent health care professionals made all the difference in this early stage. If you're not feeling encouraged or empowered by your team, go somewhere else. In the ensuing years we've had less helpful doctors and nurses around us and it makes a very big difference for both you and your child's success managing this disease).
Step Three: Have a good cry. I held everything together in the doctor's office, and then while whisking her away to an emergency endocrinologist visit, and even as I calmly rescheduled a playdate for another child that afternoon. But when I called my husband to tell him the news, I lost it. This was too much. She cried seeing me cry and then.... you can imagine how all that went. But grieving what was lost and all the unknowns of the future were good and necessary for both of us.
Step Four: Be prepared to have a part time job dealing with doctors and insurance agencies. The amount of prescriptions needed to manage T1D is daunting. Two types of insulin, needles, sensors, transmitters, pumps... Couple that with changing insurance agencies almost yearly for awhile and you've got yourself A LOT OT TIME ON HOLD. Again, breathe. Be thankful that we have all this life-saving technology; not to mention men and women who are working everyday to find a cure for this difficult disease.
Step Five: Acknowledge you can't control everything. This is something I struggle with everyday. My daughter is old enough to make her own decisions about what to eat and when, and how much to bolus and when. But still. When she goes for a cookie when I know her blood sugar is already high, or when her Dexcom is going crazy because she's low and she doesn't seem to be doing anything about it... I have to stop and let her take control. Obviously if you have a young child it's completely different. But I err on the side of over commenting and over parenting on this issue more times than I'd care to admit. So this step is for me.
Step Six: Give your child (and yourself) grace. It's hard being the parent of a T1D. It's even harder, I imagine, to be the child living with it. When your pancreas stops working, you can do the very best you can to control all the variables, but sometimes all hell breaks loose. Sometimes you're insulin resistant. Sometimes you're coming down with something and your blood sugar soars. Stress can make it rise for goodness sake! Sometimes it drops to dangerous levels in the wee hours of the night. Not blaming a child's blood sugar on her behavior is probably a good thing. Go back to step one and take a deep breath and remember that "this too shall pass."