I’d like to introduce you to Emily of Life As I Know It.
Tell me something about your child.
Camden is a pretty typical eleven-year-old boy. He rides dirt bikes, plays basketball, and loves video games. He had always wanted to be in the military when he grew up. He has a passion for learning about past wars and the weapons they used. He could tell you details about wars as though he’d been there.
How old was your child when diagnosed?
Camden had just turned ten when he was diagnosed with diabetes in July, 2009. He was also diagnosed with celiac disease two months later.
How was your child diagnosed?
He had typical symptoms: drinking lots, peeing lots, lost 11 pounds, lethargy, nausea.
About a week before diagnosis I told a friend, “I hope he doesn’t have diabetes” due to him using the bathroom frequently. Little did I know that diabetes was serious or we probably would’ve headed to urgent care right then. By the time we did see the doctor (eight days later) his vision was blurred, he could barely walk on his own and his saliva was so thick from dehydration that you couldn’t even understand him when he tried to talk.
He was transferred to another hospital where he stayed in the Pediatric ICU for three days before being transferred to the regular pediatrics floor for three more days.
How has your child’s life changed since diagnosis?
As crazy as it sounds to me, he doesn’t seem to feel like his life has changed very much. Of course he gets frustrated by lows and highs and sometimes he tries to run off with a friend without wanting to test first. Otherwise, he’s still him and his life is still his life.
I think he seems to realize more than ever that his family is “his team.” He’s a very responsible kid and has always done really well with tight boundaries. I knew while we were learning about managing diabetes in the hospital that this trait was going to help him in a big way.
He also has a great group of friends who are genuinely interested in learning about diabetes and sometimes even want to test their own blood.
Just to make certain that I did make assumptions, I asked Camden to answer this question and he couldn’t. I asked if diabetes HAS changed his life and his answer was “No.” This makes me very happy.
How has your family’s life changed since diagnosis?
Between his diabetes diagnosis and celiac disease, they definitely added a lot of stress to the entire family and added a lot of sleepless nights for me.
We used to just pick up and go do whatever we felt like, stop for dinner if we didn’t make it home on time. No big deal. We’re a lot less spur-of-the-moment now since we have to pack supplies, snacks, lunches/dinners and we may have a high or low to deal with.
Some days I feel like it’s affecting us minimally, other days I still feel like every single aspect of our lives has changed.
How do you manage diabetes?
Camden uses a OneTouch Ping insulin pump. He and I weigh/measure his food to count his carbs and I try to remain very aware of his activity level. He still thinks that he can jump on the trampoline all day long and not worry about a low later so we’re working on him being pro-active in that respect and remembering to ‘carb-up.’ He tests his blood glucose about 8-10 times per day. I test him at least twice through the night.
What would you tell parents of a newly diagnosed child?
Biggest advice is just to not get emotionally attached to the number you see on the meter. See the number, treat it and move on…Of course I have to remind myself of that often.
What do you know now that you wish you had known at diagnosis?
I wish that I had known that this was a condition that we were never going to rein in and control. I thought that you just figure out his insulin dosage and everything would be fine. I didn’t realize that we’d be constantly trying to keep up what’s going on inside that busy body.
With that knowledge, I have lightened up and know that we’re going to see numbers that aren’t quite what we expected. But… we can handle them and keep on with our lives.
How has connecting online helped you cope with diabetes?
It’s been super good! I’m really not a social person at all. I remember as soon as he was diagnosed and they started explaining things to me, I realized that I needed to get over that and find a support group. Of course, how do I get out of the house when I’m the only one caring for a child with diabetes?? Oh! Find an ONLINE support system! Perfect!
Meet other D-Moms and D-Dads each Monday.