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7 Things I Wish Everyone Knew About Type 1 (Juvenile) Diabetes: A Guest Post by Christy

christy.jpg In August 2008, our three year old son, Andrew, was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. For weeks he had been drinking tons of water, urinating much more than he was taking in and was eating everything in sight. We knew something was going on and when we got his diagnosis we weren’t really sure what we were up against.

The first week was awful. Andrew spent the first day after diagnosis in the ICU because his blood sugar had been so high for so long that he was in Diabetic Ketoacidosis and had to be stabilized. (Diabetic Ketoacidosis occurs when the body cannot break down glucose for energy and in turn starts to burn fat. Ketones are an acid that results from this fat breakdown and an accumulation of these acids in the body can be dangerous and at times deadly.) The following three days in the hospital were spent learning how to care for him once we got home. We learned how to check his blood sugar levels, how to draw up and inject his insulin, how to calculate how much insulin he needs and to recognize danger signs of lows and highs.

We did not get much support from those in our lives we had hoped and thought would be there for us. I realized that a lot of it was due to the fact that people just didn’t understand what we were really dealing with. So, in my attempt to educate people in order to prevent someone else feeling what we felt, I compiled this list of things I wish everyone knew about Type 1 Diabetes.

1. Type 1 Diabetes is an autoimmune disease in which the body attacks and destroys all of the cells in the pancreas that produce insulin. No one knows for sure what exactly triggers this autoimmune response, but it is currently not anything that can be prevented and is NOT caused by poor eating, lack of exercise or bad parenting.

2. INSULIN IS NOT A CURE!!! There is currently no proven cure for Type 1 Diabetes. Unlike Type 2 Diabetes (the more commonly discussed type), eating better and exercising won’t reverse it.

3. People with Type 1Diabetes will be dependent on insulin for their entire lives and must take it to survive.

4. Monitoring blood sugar levels is a must! Some people check their children’s blood sugar levels 10 or more times a day.

5. Exercise can cause high blood sugars or low blood sugars – and lows can happen up to 12 hours after exercise.

6. Children with Type 1 Diabetes CAN have things with sugar! In fact, they, like everyone else, need sugars to produce energy. While foods with rapid acting sugars like juice, candy and frostings are to be used sparingly, they can still be had.

7. Parents of children with diabetes NEED other people in their lives to learn how to monitor and care for their children in case there is an emergency or in the rare event they actually have a date night!

Please take the last thing to heart and when you hear of a family affected by Type 1 Diabetes don’t hesitate to ask questions and if possible learn the basics to help. The parents will love you and appreciate you more than you’ll ever know!!!

9 Responses to 7 Things I Wish Everyone Knew About Type 1 (Juvenile) Diabetes: A Guest Post by Christy

  • Gravatar
    Comment by Deanne Kacmar
    March 31, 2009 @ 10:50 am

    This is a great list ! I would like to copy it and give it out at the health fairs I participate in.

    My daughter was dx’d 5 years ago, and I wish I knew enough then to make such a list. Very

    helpful. Thanks for writing such a great message !

  • Gravatar
    Comment by Christy
    March 31, 2009 @ 11:49 am

    Thanks Deanne… feel free to copy it!!! :-) The more information out there, the more support our families will have and the better off our children will be!!!

  • Gravatar
    Comment by heather
    March 31, 2009 @ 2:04 pm

    great information! love that you are encouraging people to ask questions and be involved! i look forward to reading more of your blog.

  • Gravatar
    Comment by Tamar
    March 31, 2009 @ 5:42 pm

    Dear Amanda,

    Great list. Thank you for compiling. I had six of the seven in all of the notes and handouts I’ve given to people who have been interested and who are willing to still have my daughter over for playdates (she’s 9 and was diagnosed 3 months ago). I don’t think I was brave or bold enough to put number seven on my list.

    I would like to suggest an 8th item for your list. I feel people have another misconception about diabetes and that is that as soon as you learn to “manage” it, it gets “easy” and that people with diabetes live a normal life.

    Here’s what I say to that: There is nothing black & white about managing diabetes, it’s all in the gray area. While it may get easier to manage, it never gets easy. And though to the outsider life may look “normal”, to the person living with diabetes and their family, it’s anything but “normal.”

    Take care, Tamar

  • Gravatar
    Comment by Karla E
    April 1, 2009 @ 2:46 pm

    Bless you girl! My husband was diagnosed with Type I 21 years ago at the age of 28…yes, Type 1 at age 28. I know how difficult it is for him…can’t even imagine dealing with it as a young child. It’s a good thing Andrew has you for his Mom. Thanks for helping to educate the rest of the world. My husband is now 49 and I still don’t think his Mom understands that he can have sugar.

  • Gravatar
    Comment by Christy
    April 1, 2009 @ 3:06 pm

    So many misconceptions out there!!! My mission is to educate so my son won’t be denied a normal childhood and won’t be discriminated against! Bless you Karla for helping your husband! Hugs!

    Tamar… I don’t think it ever gets easy either… but I think that our kids learn to live as normal a life with it as they can. I, too, get frustrated by the “how’s his diabetes?” questions… I just say, “well, he still has it and we do the best we can”… if they want details, I give them a WHOLE bunch of them! :-)

  • Gravatar
    Comment by DiabetesResearcher
    April 2, 2009 @ 7:34 am

    What a great post Christy! It is so important for people in your son’s life to be involved and be educated about T1DM. I work in Type 1 research looking for a cure and just wanted to add a comment to your #1. While it’s true that the specific cause is still unknown, family members (especially siblings) are at a higher risk of having T1 also. There are screenings that can be done to better understand a child’s risk and are now interventions the child can have within days of diagnosis. I know for many people “research” sounds scary, but without family members participation we will never find a cure! Check out http://www.diabetestrialnet.org/index.htm for more education on finding a cure to this terrible disease. Again, thanks for the post!

  • Gravatar June 18, 2009 @ 7:26 pm

    [...] Please welcome our newest contributing author, Christy, to The Mom Crowd! I am super excited to hear her stories and insights into parenting. I have not seen Christy in person in 11 years. We became friends on Facebook and quickly became Facebook BFFs while commiserating about our kiddos. She did a guest post in March titled, “7 Things I Wish Everyone Knew About Type 1 (Juvenile) Diabetes.” [...]

  • Gravatar January 31, 2013 @ 1:38 pm

    “The Mom Crowd

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