Diabetes is a disease that affects the whole family, especially when a child is diagnosed. Parents of children diagnosed with diabetes face overwhelming, and sometimes frightening, questions such as: How can I strike the balance between caring and hovering? Will she ever be able to eat sweets again? How will I ever be able to let him go out on his own?
This is the latest in our occasional series from parents of children with diabetes, illustrating the emotions, challenges and successes each family faced upon diagnosis.
Doran Lee Pennington
Name: Charles Pennington
Location: Highlands, Texas
My son Doran was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age 11. It scared me to death.
For the first two years, I thought he could never leave my sight. School field trip? I was right behind the bus all day. Little League baseball? Every practice and game, we tested every half-hour. With friends playing catch in the street? Not without your glucose tablets!
I was a MESS.
Not until Doran left for college was I able to just let it go. I had to. He is now 19 and he just finished his freshman year at the University of Texas in Austin.
If your child has symptoms resembling a 24-hour virus or food poisoning, demand a simple blood glucose test when you take him or her to the doctor. Our primary care doctor initially sent us home to nurse a tummy ache. A few hours later, we were in ER with a blood glucose reading of over 700 mg/dl! This was followed by a week of intensive (and very AWESOME) care at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston.
Your child with diabetes needs to know that he or she can still do everything they have always done—and more. ALWAYS involve your child when you calculate mealtime insulin dosages. They need to know when and why you are changing any carb-to-insulin ratios, things like that.
Establish a good relationship with your local pharmacies and your insurance company, and take advantage of Patient Care Advocate services if they are offered by your employer as part of your benefits.
Take a look at research studies that may be offered by hospitals or universities in your area. They almost always provide insulin and supplies, and they will pay your child for the additional finger sticks and paperwork required for the study. This approach has helped us along the way.
And, by the way . . . Doran’s first year on his own, his A1C went down .5 percent! So there is hope.