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Attention: The Parent Recently Diagnosed Type 1 Diabetic Somewhere in Australia

07 July, 2015

Dear Parent of a Recently Diagnosed T1D,

There are many things I would like to tell your about your upcoming journey. But first let me tell you briefly about my experience. My daughter Jaime was diagnosed on the 2nd April 2012. That is three years, five months, and four days ago. It seems like so long ago, and looking back those first few days of diagnosis, it was bit of blur! It started with a trip to the doctor to check out why she was constantly hungry, thirsty and going to the toilet. Then off to the hospital for a stay until insulin was sorted, some education and a routine put in place. That’s it in a nutshell, and probably somewhat similar to what you are going through, or have just been through.


So what to expect. Well, first off there will be guilt, because as any parent would do, over the last however many weeks/months you have been scolding your child “surely you cannot be hungry, you just ate!”, or, “the reason why you need to go to the toilet is because you are drinking too much!”. Not realising of course they had a medical condition. Then you learn about all the bad stuff that may, or may not happen to your child. There is the scary realisation that you child will die if they do not have insulin. As the months pass your child may then decide this is not for them, and then you have to keep telling them that not having insulin is not an option. Then you must explain that you don’t know the reason why it has happened to them. And you cry. And they cry. Then you try explaining that there is no cure, and yes you have to have the needles. And they cry, so then you say, I’m sorry. And you cry, and apologise again, and you both cry, and on it goes.


As a parent who has lived it, the first year is like climbing a very, very steep mountain. I want to say that it will get easier, but I am not sure the word easy is the appropriate term. Because managing a T1D child is not easy, it is more that you will develop a better understanding of the disease. You will learn the ins and outs of how T1D affects your child. You will learn what things affect your child’s blood glucose levels, stress, illness, and food. You will also see how T1D affects your child’s learning and concentration, and also come to accept that nothing is constant.


One of the things that you as a parent, or caregiver will have to master is the ability to teach. You will be required to teach strangers, teachers, friends and family, who have absolutely no idea, exactly what T1D is about. Before Jaime was diagnosed I was blasé about Diabetes, like most people. I thought that it was as simple as a quick needle and that’s about it. Some of the things you may have to teach people is; no it is not Type 2, no it is not because she had too much sugar as a baby, yes everything she eats does need to be accounted for, yes she needs to take juice with her everywhere, no she cannot walk to the school office if she is having a hypo! It can be exhausting, it can infuriating and it can be demoralising. It is difficult leaving your child in the care of people who, through no fault of their own, have absolutely no idea about the risk associated with T1D. This is for me the hardest part.


So what’s on the other side of the slope? Well you may not know it now, but you will master the ability manage T1D. It won’t be perfect, nothing ever is, there are far to many variables for it to be perfect. Your child will still have hypos, you will not be able to stop this. However, you will learn to deal with it, with less panic and less fear, you will be able to do what needs to be done to get your child’s levels back up, and go about the rest of your day. Remember, despite having diabetes, your child still dreams of playing footy for Australia, being an astronaut, or a paleontologist, and you will probably still have to fight with them to do their homework, clean their room, or put away the dishes. While every person in your house will be affected by this disease, not just the T1D, soon diabetes will become the new normal, just as it is in mine. Before you realise it you will be living life to the fullest once again.

Yours sincerely,

Parent of a Type 1 Diabetic Three Years, Five Months and Four Days On ❤