Helping Your Teen Manage Juvenile Diabetes
Juvenile Diabetes, or Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease that occurs when the insulin-producing beta cells within the pancreas are gradually destroyed and eventually fail to produce insulin. Insulin is a hormone that helps the body’s cells use glucose for energy. Blood glucose (or blood sugar) is manufactured from the food we eat (primarily carbohydrates) and by the liver. If glucose can’t be absorbed by the cells, it builds up in the bloodstream instead, and high blood sugar is the result.
My 14 year old daughter was diagnosed with Type 1, or Juvenile Diabetes on May 24, 2007. Let me tell you how our world really changed after that day. We were immediately scheduled for an appointment the following morning at Children’s Hospital in Milwaukee, which is about 40 miles from home. There we would join 5 other newly diagnosed children and their families to learn everything there is to know about this lifelong disease called Juvenile Diabetes. We learned all about insulin, finger sticks, the pancreas, food, and dosing insulin to food ratios. They also scheduled several other followup training sessions to be sure we were experts in this disease so that we were comfortable controlling all of this, both mentally and physically.
You may think you have issues with your teen, trying to get them to clean their room, or do their homework when it is assigned instead of the night before it is due, or even when they get a little attitude. And then she is diagnosed with Juvenile Diabetes. Everything you thought was important before goes right out the window. Suddenly your world consists of: Did she check her sugar before she drove to her friend’s house? Did she do her Lantus last night before bed, (since she stays up an hour longer than I do)? Can we bring her glucose numbers back to where they should be, and keep them there for 24 hours?
I have always been a person that does my research, and reads everything there is to know about anything going on in my life. I am so thankful for the internet, with all of its’ amazing avenues of information! I soon signed up for a few Juvenile Diabetes newsletters and sites to become even more educated and possibly help others with questions they may have. It wasn’t until I started researching Juvenile Diabetes that I realized how lucky we were to have a place as special as Children’s Hospital in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
There are many people out there that only have information given to them by their primary doctor, with no training in how to care for and control Juvenile Diabetes. I am so grateful that my daughter’s pediatrician was able to admit that her knowledge only extended to the very basics in diagnosing diabetes, and set us up with a pediatric endocrinologist.
One important thing we have learned about juvenile diabetes is that you can eat anything you want-you just have to know the carb count and put in enough insulin to cover it. It’s always a challenge to go out to eat and balance the sugars with carbs to prevent spikes in glucose numbers, and know which of our favorite restaurants put in hidden sugar in things like pizza sauce.
If you have a child that has been diagnosed with juvenile diabetes, I highly suggest you purchase the book titled “Calorie King-Calorie, Fat, and Carbohydrate Counter” A new one comes out each year, as it contains the counts for many chain restaurants, and some of these menus are changing every year. It also contains carb counts for most of the foods you cook at home.
Our classes at Children’s have enabled us to actually “play around” with dosing when my daughter’s numbers get a little out of whack. We have learned all the things that could possibly make her numbers high or low, and what to do for it, both short-term and long-term. I feel so lucky that we have been given these tools and are able to at least feel like there is some sort of control with her disease.
One thing that has really worked for my daughter is to involve all of her friends and classmates. She is not shy about doing finger sticks, or dosing her insulin in front of anyone. She is always more than willing to explain diabetes to anyone that asks (although she can get a little annoyed by the same questions over & over). We can be in the middle of a mall having fun, and she can feel her sugar dropping. So she’ll just say, “hold my stuff, I have to be a diabetic for a minute” and do a quick finger poke. If she needs to adjust her sugar, we’ll head for a cookie kiosk and carry on having fun with our day. She’s such a strong person who doesn’t let this disease get her down for long. I’m really proud to have her for a daughter.
If anyone reading this does not have access to a pediatric endocrinologist, there are several online resources you can go to for help. One of my favorites is http://www.jdrf.org which is the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. There is a “life with diabetes” drop-down menu that has so much helpful information for the newly diagnosed, or for anything new you may have questions on. This website also contains many research articles, and press release information. For teens with diabetes try http://www.MyDiabetesCentral.com This site lets you sign up for a weekly newsletter where you will receive the latest information and research about diabetes , and also will allow you to ask questions of an endocrinologist. Good luck to anyone facing this lifelong challenge of testing, correcting, and monitoring!
I don’t know about the rest of the parents out there, but my reason for having a child was to try to give her a better life than I had, and raise her to be an accomplished adult. My wish is that she becomes a responsible person that can contribute to society in a positive way. Diabetes has certainly added to that challenge, but I think she is well on her way to what my vision for my daughter has always been.
So life with juvenile diabetes has been a challenge for the entire family. It is a scary disease that your child will have to live with for the rest of their lives, unless they find that cure they keep saying they are so close to all the time. It also can create a lot of anger, because it is so unfair that your child has gotten this disease. Just remember that it is a controllable disease, and with the support of friends, family, and medical staff, you will get through this one day at a time. You can’t let it take over your life. You need to just have fun living life, and know that this is just a part of life you have to deal with.
Source by Kim Spann