Nothing can really prepare you for a chronic disease diagnosis – especially when it is your child’s.
In 2009, my son was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at just 20 months old. This autoimmune condition is not something that runs in our family, so to say it was a shock is an understatement. Like any mom in the same situation, I experienced an emotional rollercoaster of feelings – from upset and anger to resigned sadness.
Ten years later, however, I am happy to say that, while it still is a large part of our life, it is just one part of our life. We deal with it because we have to, and I am no longer sad or angry about the situation.
Chronic diseases are very difficult to accept and manage, and no one should have to do it alone.
When I look back at how I got through it, there was not really one thing that changed it all, but there were a few that helped – and perhaps they will help you too.
I moved forward in small steps. Instead of letting myself become overwhelmed with worry, about everything, I got focused. In the beginning, it was not even a full day. Sometimes it was only a focus of a few hours. This allowed us to find our “new normal” – a life with diabetes.
Accepting this disease as part of our life was critical. It was initially the most difficult thing to do, but it was the most important. The moment that I accepted it and acknowledged that we could take on this challenge, things became easier.
Information is power, so I educated myself about the condition as best I could. In order to manage a chronic condition, one must learn as much as possible to manage it well. At times, it felt overwhelming, but it allowed me to understand what was really going to help my son. It also helped me better understand what his doctor was prescribing.
I continue to stay up to date on the latest technology and treatments. This way, I can ask my son’s doctor about how to best care for him. It also helps me teach my kid how to care for himself as he grows and becomes more independent.
Seeking professional help is also critical. It is important to have a medical doctor who understands the condition. Many people will tell you that you can manage type 1 diabetes through diet, but you cannot. A person with type 1 diabetes must use insulin, and only a qualified doctor can prescribe this.
It took a while to find a qualified diabetes team at the time of our diagnosis, but I am happy to say that things have changed drastically since then. There are many qualified physicians and nurses in the region who understand diabetes. It is also what encouraged me to become a certified wellness coach and launch my own company, a global support hub for people whose lives have been touched by diabetes, called DiapointME. Chronic diseases are very difficult to accept and manage, and no one should have to do it alone.
Should you or your child be diagnosed with diabetes, please know that you can and should live a full, happy, and healthy life. You must manage and tend to this condition, and some days that will feel challenging. However, do not let this diagnosis stop you from accomplishing what it is you want out of your life.
Pamela Durant is a certified Wellness and Lifestyle Medicine coach with over 20 years of experience in healthcare. She is the Founder & Managing Director of DiapointME — the place for people touched by diabetes.