This is the first of a series of Meet the Parents of Children with Type 1 Diabetes interviews. Pop to the original Meet the Parents post for an introduction in to why I am doing these interviews if you want. Here it is, the first interview.
Where do you live?
When was your child diagnosed and how old were they?
April 2016 age 10
What were their symptoms and how did their diagnosis come to happen?
Annabella had been losing weight over the previous few months. I put it down to a growth spurt and hormonal changes at first. Then she started waking up feeling sick in the mornings after waking up frequently in the night to go to the loo. She started to drink a lot too which was very out of character for her as previously I always had to nag her to drink during the day.
The vomiting started to become persistent and eventually I realised this wasn’t hormones or a tummy bug and I made an appointment with the doctor. A quick finger prick later and she was rushed into hospital with a blood reading of 26.6 and a diagnosis of Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus.
Did you know anything about Type 1 Diabetes before diagnosis?
Yes a tiny bit. Both of my parents have type 2 so I whilst I didn’t know much about type 1, I was at least aware that there are different types. I had googled my daughters symptoms the night before I took her to the doctor so I had a basic idea of what she might be facing.
Is your child on an insulin pump or on mdi (multiple daily injections)?
At the moment she’s on MDI but we are hoping for a pump within the next six months as she’s tired of the injections now. I’m hoping the pump will bring a better quality of life for her. She has to psych herself up before each injection so the pump will be great for her I think.
What has been the hardest part for you and your child/children?
As a parent its the hardest thing in the world to see your child scared, in pain or suffering at all. You’d do anything to make it all go away or kiss it better. Except you can’t kiss type 1 better and for me that’s the hardest part. I know Annabella has moments each day where she’d like to throw the towel in.
When she’s had a disturbed night or when she’d just love to sit and eat a meal without the whole process involved but she can’t and she has to battle on through. I think for both of us, it’s knowing that this isn’t going away – that’s the hard part.
Between diagnosis and today, is there anything that has gotten easier for both of you?
When your child is first diagnosed it’s like you’ve been hit by a truck. Then there is the information overload and the constant panic that you’ll get something wrong. Your world is turned upside down and it’s like learning how to care for your child all over again.
For me, parenting was just starting to become easier before diagnosis. I had got myself a job that fit around school hours and Annabella had reached an age where she was becoming quite independent (in a ten-year old kind of way).
Then once Type 1 came into our lives I had to re-think our whole routine. Would I need to give up my job? Would she need round the clock supervision? Would she need special care at school that I’d need to be involved in? So many questions that invade your every waking minute in those early days.
Thankfully I kept my job and we are gradually learning to manage Annabella’s needs. I wouldn’t say any of it has become easier just yet. But we are learning to incorporate it into our daily lives. It’s a case of having to.
Has your child’s school been helpful in terms of Type 1 Diabetes care?
Yes. We’ve been very lucky at school. The teachers met with our DSN (diabetes specialist nurse) and talked through a care plan. I sat in on the meeting and felt very reassured when I saw how much interest they took in learning about type 1. Annabella starts secondary school in September and I’m hoping they will be just as supportive as her primary school was.
If you could say one thing to a parent whose child has just been diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes, what would you say?
I’d tell them to take a deep breath and know that it will all start to make sense eventually. All the words and numbers and abbreviations will one day soon make perfect sense to you. In the meantime just concentrate on you and your child at this highly emotional time. Get some support – the Facebook groups for UK Parents are invaluable. There is no such thing as a silly question, we’ve all been there.
Is there anything that you would like my readers to know about Type 1 Diabetes?
My biggest wish, apart from a cure obviously, would be to have much more awareness in the UK of the different types of diabetes.
I am so angered by people’s ignorance when I see them throwing the word diabetes around in an effort to shame overweight people or when they’re idiotically hash tagging a picture of their desert. TV/Radio programs should also be made to distinguish between type 1 and type 2 whenever they are mentioned.
Considering what pesky beggars they are for getting everywhere, where is the weirdest place you have found a blood testing strip?
The dishwasher – and I’ve always got one stuck to the bottom of my foot!
I always tell my son that Type 1 is not who he is, it is just a part of our lives we have to deal with. Tell me a random fact about your child, that has nothing to do with Type 1 Diabetes?
Annabella can play the Violin and she does a mean headstand!
Thank you so much Jenny. Believe me we are seven years in and it does get easier in so many ways as it becomes more the ‘norm’. We still have our moments though.
If you are the parent of a child with Type 1 Diabetes and you would like to take part, then please do email me at email@example.com