I know it sounds cliché but a positive attitude can go a long way. When diabetes management is getting the best of you, think about these tips I shared in my book Kids First, Diabetes Second.
Please enjoy this excerpt from the book…
CHAPTER ELEVEN: Your Support System
A Positive Outlook
Dealing with diabetes day in and day out can really take a toll on a parent. We are exhausted from disrupted sleep schedules, zombie our way through workdays, and somehow juggle the activities and demands of family life. At times, it can be overwhelming, but having a strong support system can help you avoid burnout and save your sanity. Remember, you need to be strong and healthy so you can care for your child. Doctors can give great medical advice, but nobody knows how to deal with diabetes better than the people who live with it every day.
Now, I’m not saying that life with diabetes is all rainbows and unicorns, but I do believe in the power of a positive outlook. I have never taken the attitude “woe is me.” I don’t wallow in my misery, and I certainly don’t want my child to look at the negative side of things all the time.
I think the key is to take control, but I don’t mean it in the way you normally hear the word control associated with diabetes (i.e., keeping blood sugar in a tight range). For me, taking control means coming to terms with your child’s diagnosis and accepting it. It means getting organized and streamlining your systems so that management isn’t so taxing; automating as much as you can as I described in the chapters about organizing supplies; figuring out carb counts for foods and recipes and writing it down so you don’t have to figure it out again; and making charts with insulin to carb ratios and correction factors to reduce your math. Taking control means getting on with life and not letting diabetes hold you or your child back.
I don’t know how many times a well-meaning person has asked me if Q’s diabetes is “under control.” What does that even mean? Anyone who has firsthand experience with diabetes knows you can’t control it. While there is a ton of diabetes math we must do each day, the reality is that with diabetes, one plus one does not always equal two. I think that’s one of the hardest things for parents of newly diagnosed children to understand. You can do the same exact thing three days in a row, and on one of those days you may have a completely different outcome. Giving the same amount of insulin for the identical meal or blood sugar may have a different result each time, because there are so many other factors that affect how the body uses insulin and food, such as exercise, activity, illness, growth, stress, and more.
Here are some of my best pieces of advice for parents of children with diabetes:
- You can’t control diabetes 100 percent of the time, but you should strive to do the best you can.
- Make the best decisions you can with the knowledge you have at the time.
- Of course, hindsight is 20/20, but you can’t beat yourself up for not knowing everything about diabetes management from day one.
- Forgive yourself for the few times you get it wrong. Look at how many times you get it right!
- Learn by experience. If you find that a certain food or activity affects your child in a certain way, make a note of it and try it differently the next time. Better yet, ask your CDE or endocrinologist for suggestions.
- Fear is not a good motivator. Looking at potential negative outcomes will not make you or your child want to try your best.
- Know when it’s worth educating others and when you should ignore them. Try not to get too upset by ignorance.
- Take things one blood sugar at a time. Sometimes it’s all we have in us to do.
- Tomorrow is a fresh start with a clean slate.
I think this quote sums up my philosophy when it comes to managing diabetes without guilt: “Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities have crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day. You shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.” —Emerson
If you’d like to learn more about the book, you can read more on the Kids First, Diabetes Second book page. It’s available widely from booksellers such as Amazon and Bookshop. And if you do read it and find it to be a valuable resource, I would greatly appreciate it if you could write a review on any of the online retail sites. Thanks!
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links to booksellers.
Please remember that I never give medical advice. Ask your endocrinologist or pediatrician for advice about your own child. Make your own informed decisions for your own child.