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.
Kendra Ferguson (R) with twin sister Kallie
Name: Sue Carnicle
Location: Salina, Kan.
I have a daughter, Kendra, who is 17. She was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of 9.
I am a worrier and she is a free spirit. Kendra knows what she should do, but she doesn’t always make the best choices. It’s difficult for me to let go—we’ve been doing this together for almost nine years. I’m trying, and quite frankly I have no choice because she leaves for college in the fall.
I’ve been trying to let her make her own choices, even if I don’t agree with them. Fortunately, Kendra has been seeing a certified diabetes educator (CDE) on her own and has formed a relationship with her that will follow continue in college.
Kendra has been through a lot with her diabetes and other autoimmune issues. She has done things that have been great and things that haven’t been so great. The last three years have been a real struggle as she tries to fit in while having this disease. Kendra has a twin sister who does not have diabetes, so that alone is a challenge.
But she has also come so far. She has taken control again and we are seeing good results in her A1C. It was as high as 11 percent, but it is now at 8.2. I’m hopeful that she will continue with this downward trend.
I believe if Kendra would just be herself and be willing to talk about her disease (like she did when she was first diagnosed), she could help other children not make the same mistakes she has made. Kendra is creative and she has learned ways to make diabetes management work for her (when she wants it to). I believe that knowledge would be beneficial to others. I’m waiting for the “light bulb” to go on for Kendra. I think it could happen soon.
If you’re a parent new to type 1, don’t give up. Educate yourself and your child constantly. I also recommend finding a support system for both you and your child. One other huge note, be your child’s best advocate at school.
Also, attending Diabetes Camp was wonderful for Kendra. Kendra attended the American Diabetes Association’s Camp Discovery in Wichita for several years. I hope to have her camp t-shirts made in to a quilt!
I believe in Kendra probably more so than she does. I just hope she hears my voice from time to time next year. And I also hope I can refrain from having too many anxiety attacks while she is gone!