Introduction to the book Kids First, Diabetes Second written by Leighann Calentine sharing advice for parenting a child with type 1 diabetes.
Since it’s the beginning of a new year, this month I thought I would share the very beginning of my book Kids First, Diabetes Second with you. The introduction gives a little bit of the background of the book and the tone it takes. It’s not a medical book, but it is full of tips and tricks to help you get through and hopefully, you will find a book full of support, especially if your child is newly diagnosed.
I’m a parent just like you. I’m not a doctor. Nor am I a nurse, dietician, or nutritionist. But when my daughter was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes a few months shy of her fourth birthday, I had three days to become an expert in all of those fields in order to keep her healthy. We were sent home from the hospital with a heavy bag full of diabetes supplies, a notebook overflowing with instructions and new terminology, and a phone number to call each time we checked her blood sugar or fed her a meal. It was daunting and, quite frankly, the scariest thing I have faced in my life.
If you are looking for a guide on how to manage the medical aspects of your child’s type 1 diabetes—how to bring that A1c down a full point in a mere three months or how to figure out the perfect basal rates that keep your child’s blood sugar at an even 120 all day and all night long—this is not the right book for you. These aspects of diabetes management continue to be a work in progress for our family. But if you’re looking for advice on how to manage your family’s life with diabetes; how to streamline the seemingly endless tasks involved with diabetes care each day; how to handle school and sports; and how to help your child with diabetes be a child first and foremost; then pull up a chair, grab a mug of sugar-free hot cocoa, and let’s chat.
I’ll be the first to admit I don’t have all the answers. However, I think our family has come to terms with this chronic health condition. We’ve decided that it is what it is, and we deal with it the best way we can. In fact, that’s always my advice: you need to do the best you can with the information and knowledge you have at a particular time.
In this book, I’d like to share with you what has taken us four years to learn. Oh, how I wish that the experienced mom I am today had been there in those first weeks and months to give me the tips found in the following pages. What a comfort it would have been to have her put her hand on my shoulder and tell me that I was strong enough to do this. So, let me put my hand on your shoulder right now and tell you that you, too, can and will do this. You will soon become an expert in your child’s care. Before you know it, diabetes will become your new normal, and your child will be happy and healthy. Diabetes will fade into the background and become just another part of daily life … if you let it.
I can’t think of many medical conditions other than type 1 diabetes where the patient, or for young patients the parents, make any number of life-and-death decisions daily. Other medical conditions are overseen by a doctor who prescribes a method of treatment and expects you to follow a very specific protocol. With type 1 diabetes, the care team trains you and then sets you free. And while the nurse educators give you the knowledge to do the basic care—counting carbs, checking blood sugar, and giving insulin—there are so many other aspects to caring for a child with diabetes that these medical professionals just can’t teach in a few days of classes. We were lucky enough to be diagnosed at a facility that’s strong on education. Some parents get even less instruction than the three-day crash course we received.
That’s where this book comes in.
I offer you my perspective as a parent of a child with diabetes who was enrolled in preschool at the time of diagnosis and now attends public elementary school. I won’t bore you with medical jargon or indecipherable studies on the latest treatments and outcomes. Rather, I will tell it like it is, hopefully with wit and wisdom, sharing all that I have learned over the past four years.
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.