If you are wondering how to help a family with a diabetic child, this post is written for you. If you have a child with diabetes you can skip reading this post, check out the archives or check out my blog roll. If you are wonder, “what can I do”, “I want to help, but I don’t know how” or “I’m scared as hell and I’m lost” let me take you buy the hand and we will go for a little walk. We will stroll through my back yard, maybe sit in a lawn chair and chat about life with a child with diabetes. I hope I can give you a few simple tidbits, ideas and resources to help. To assure you, I have deep respect that you have taken steps to help your friend, sister, son, daughter or loved one.
First of all, don’t kick the door in like your a supper hero, and announce how you’re going to help. It is hard to sustain that kind of fervor. If they have just had a child diagnosed, take them a meal or two. DON”T take them a meal loaded with “sugar free stuff”. Maybe sugar free jello would be okay, but just do an accurate carb count on the rest of the meal. They have to know the amount of carbs to dose their child for the amount of insulin. Example, 2 slices of bread, about 22 grams of carbs, for most children that will be about a unit of insulin or less. Anything that has carbs (link for a book on counting carbs, smart phone app is great too), they need insulin, all grains, potatoes, corn, all fruits and anything with sugar added.
Second: anything you have learned about, or from someone with Type 2 Diabetes (or they may call it sugar diabetes) does not really apply, other than checking blood sugar. I’m not saying Type 2 is easy, it is different. Type 2 does not turn into Type 1, period. Growing cells on the liver or kidneys does not reverse diabetes, it my reverse the insulin dependence, but not the disease. And don’t say you’ve heard there will be a cure in five years. We had a doctor tell a friend that there would be a cure in a few years. Our daughter was diagnosed over 3 years ago. I’ve listened to some of the best researchers in the world, its a lot more than five years off, maybe longer. Next time I see that doctor lady, I will give a firm but nice lecture. That really created false hope for a couple of years for my wife and I.
Third, read, read and read, when you have time. There are many great blogs and websites to learn from. JDRF.org, diabetes.org, dlife.com, laughing at diabetes blog just to name a few. Here is a link to my friends book (disclaimer, I wrote a side bar for this book, 2 pages) check out the blog also at d-mom.com. Its okay if you are scared to do any diabetes care. It scares me at times! No lie! Learn a little at a time and tell them you are scared, but want to help. Learn one little step at a time from them if you really want to learn and your scared. Learn one thing a month and get good at it. Learn to check blood sugar, learn to recognize low blood sugars, also called hypoglycemia.
The last thing I want to talk about is the change. It will be overwhelming to them, they have lots to learn. If you’re scared to help with the diabetes care, there are other things. Ask them if you could grocery shopping for them (take their list). Maybe take their non-diabetes kids for a couple of days. Simple ideas are endless. When we had our 2nd child diagnosed last year, it was a shock. Many of our friends helped with different things. Some brought gifts, I really liked the 1.5L bottle of wine, some helped with a remodeling project, those were all cool. One thing I needed and didn’t realize until this spring, was last years leaves. Last fall I raked them into a pile and there they stayed. I hauled some away a few months back. Some are still around, in a pile, beside my driveway. I put them there yesterday in an attempt to finish that task. I could have used help on last years leaves. Be there for your friends, pay attention, maybe they need help with little things that would be a big help to them. Caring for a child with Type 1 Diabetes is a 24 hours a day job, they may need help. Just a few ideas on how to help a family with a diabetic child.