When a family member gets diabetes it also affects the rest of the family. When it is a child that is diagnosed it is not uncommon that parents get feelings of guilt: what could we have done different to avoid it happening? It is important to realise that you couldn’t have done anything to avoid it, and that the diagnosis will affect the whole family. But it is possible to turn it into something if not positive so at least less dramatic.
Our daughter got the diagnos Diabetes Type 1 just before her third birthday. Not even the doctor at the medical center in the Town we lived was able to diagnose. For weeks she just faded away while her medical condition got worse. I still feel great gratitude to the nurse who dared to question the doctor’s diagnosis because she herself had experience of diabetes.
Our story is not unique. There is a wide ignorance among people of what diabetes really means. You still hear today comments like “Just stop eating sweets and start exercising”.Hearing such BS is insulting to a person who risks being awake all night trying to fix a high blood sugar because of something as simple as a common cold. Someone who then risks to faint and end up in a coma if they inject too much insulin to get the blood sugar level down.
To us it was a wakeup-call. We quickly decided that we owuldn’t allow our daughter to feel “different” at Home. If she couldn’t eat certain things-fine, then the rest of the family didn’t eat that either. At the same time we gave her the luxury of Friday night snacks-time just as her siblings and friends-even though with a lot of counting carbohydrates and checking blood sugar levels.
The difficult part was to get her School to understand what Diabetes is all about. The ignorance was – and probably still is – pretty great about a serious illness that when wrongly treated or untreated is fatal. As a parent it was important to actively contribute with education and information about how we can make life easier for the diagnosed, the family and the environment: to School, friends and others. To move on from tragedy and drama to forward-looking and consideration.
My presentation “When the family got diabetes” is just about that. How we as parents can contribute to making not only the childs but also the communitys understanding of diabetes better, and how to give not only the diagnosed but also the family and surrounding the right tools. The presentation is however not only for diabetics and their relatives, but can be seen as a way to find the right tools for all sorts of crisis processing.