Being diagnosed with diabetes, or having a family member diagnosed, can be a traumatic experience full of change and curiosity. When I was diagnosed at 6 years old, my mom had never heard even of the disease. After sitting through classes, talking with doctors, nurses and specialists, and learning all the ins and outs of being a diabetic, my family and me were sent home to grapple with the life of a diabetic.
Being bombarded by information is a common occurrence after being diagnosed with diabetes, but both the confusion and the disease itself are manageable after leaving the hospital. Although there is no known cure for Type One Diabetes, hope is a great thing to have on your side as you conquer the disease. Diabetes does not have to control you: you can control your diabetes, and live your life to the fullest.
Here are some places to start after you or a loved one has been diagnosed:
Diabetes advocacy groups, such as the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), or a regional branch of JDRF are a great place to start (www.jdrf.org). Having a community such as JDRF can help newly diagnosed families understand their options of diabetes care, provide information on new research being done about diabetes, as well as serve as a support group for parents, siblings, and those wanting to cure this disease.
Another place to start is with friends and family members. It is vital that diabetics tell people that they have diabetes, and that all family members know what to do if a low or high blood sugar occurs. Friends and family include anyone from dorm or apartment roommates to babysitters; grandparents to aunts and uncles; neighbors to nemeses.
I have diabetic friends that have not told anyone about their disease, and end up in the hospital because of it. I also have diabetic friends that do tell people, and have avoided possible emergencies because of it. These low and high episodes can be prevented with careful care of diabetes, but it is better to tell the people in your life to make sure you are safe, rather than sorry.
Diabetes cannot be handled alone.