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To the Parents Whose Child Was Just Diagnosed With Type 1 Diabetes

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First of all, you need hugs. Please cry, get upset, grieve. I will cry with you as I spent many days crying over type 1 diabetes as well. But don’t cry in front of your child. Be strong. Be brave. Be matter of fact. Save the crying for later. 

No, it’s not easy. At all. But those shots that your child has to take is now life. Checking their blood sugar every few hours is your child’s life. And as a parent, it is now yours, too. And the best way to help your child is to take a deep breath, tell them it stings for a second, then it’s over. And do it. Quickly. Even with the tears.  

Get your child a new toy. Get them Band-Aids with characters on them. You know, the cool ones with Disney princesses or Pokemon. Better yet, let your child pick them out. Take them to a movie or buy a new Blu-ray. Because the fact is, this stinks and if you can make it a tiny bit more fun, make it fun!

Because you will forget it, buy an extra diabetes kit. And then buy an extra one after that for school. Just make sure the test strips work in all of them. Keep one on you and the other at home, in your car, anywhere you need it often. Did I mention lots of test strips and alcohol swabs?

You will find out who you can trust to help take care of your child. When you do, make sure you take time away from diabetes. Go somewhere — anywhere for any period of time — and challenge yourself not to count carbs or think about testing blood sugar. But keep your cellphone on you. Just in case. And smile when you didn’t have to answer a text or call.

Find a parent support group. Either in person, online or wherever. Go where you can ask questions, vent and do whatever you need to do with others that get it.

Find the right endocrinologist for you. Even if one seems good and has done a good job, if it doesn’t feel like a good fit, try a different one. You need to be able to fully trust someone who is leading you through this life. You want someone who can talk to your child and help them understand what they need to do in life. Notice I said “talk to your child.” Because even if you’re doing most of the care right now, they’re learning. Eventually, they’ll do it on their own. And they need to know how to do that.

It’s a lot. Believe me, I get it. You may be scared, overwhelmed and worried, and I’m sorry to say that will always be there. But it does get easier. And your child will feel better soon. And that is worth every single hard moment.

Follow this journey on My Life With Three.

Originally published: August 5, 2016
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