May is Mental Health Month so now seems like a great time to explore the emotional side of living with, or caring for someone with, diabetes. What things can make dealing with diabetes an emotional issue for you and / or your loved one, and how do you cope?

Benny was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes just before he turned two. I remember a tough conversation in his hospital room at 3am with a well-meaning doctor. We were talking about daycare and work and I promptly burst into tears. Benny reached over and patted my shoulder with his little hand. "It’s okay, Mommy," he said.

Well.

As my baby comforted me, I realized I needed to pull it together. If I fell apart, how would he ever adjust to what needed to be his new normal?

We did adjust and life went on. I've had my moments but, seven years later, most of the emotion of type 1 diabetes is not as intense. I rarely get sad, but I do get frustrated. We have ups and downs, highs and lows (see what I did there?) like everyone. Diabetes is difficult to manage because life is not the same day to day; this condition requires a very delicate balancing act.

Overall, site changes have always been difficult, although they're getting easier as Benny gets older. Sometimes I would go into the laundry room or bathroom after a particularly upsetting insertion and have a moment by myself. I don't think Benny’s been overly troubled by this, he just hates that the insets hurt. They do and that sucks. We talk about shots as an option sometimes. Right now, he’s not interested. So we slap the inset in and move on.

I hate that he has to have extra stuff and do extra things. Going to your friends house? Check your BG first. Do you have your meter or, more frequently these days, Dexcom receiver? Something in your pocket for lows? I can give Benny his independence, but at a price of additional reminders and literal baggage.

I also know that this is not my diabetes. Benny may have answered this prompt very differently and he’ll have his own concerns and worries as he gets older. All we can do is give him the tools to succeed. That goes beyond the meter and pump. He needs self-reliance, responsibility, confidence and a sense of humor.

That's really how I cope. We use humor a lot (more on that tomorrow) and every time my son takes on more diabetes responsibility and independence I mark it as a win. I suppose in a way, I still look to Benny for reassurance, but we've come pretty far from those 3am tears.

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Tags: dblogweek, diabetes, emotion, parents

Comment by Stacey Simms on May 15, 2014 at 5:14am

Robin, thanks so much for leaving that comment. I really appreciate it! That first year is so hard, especially with a child that young. I started blogging over at staceysimms.com just after Benny was dx'd. If you liked this post, might go over there and read some from the early days (2007-2008). It does get better and your son will knock your socks off as he gets older. I don't think it suddenly gets any easier, but it does become much more routine. Hang in!!

Comment by rick the "Blogabetic" on May 15, 2014 at 6:13am

I do not think it was much different for my mom when I was 17 and diagnosed. The only thing different was that she was diabetic and knew how devastating it could be. I know for me I worried almost every minute of every day about my sons. Would I have to be like my mom and tell one or both of them I was so sorry and that time will fix this, all the while sobbing when she left the room?

For me it is different I choose to bring a child into the world knowing full well Type 1 was a good possibility. Thank God my sons are fine. I never needed to face it. Yes I did get through. I do have a life outside diabetes. Things got so much better over time.

I would never tell someone to hope for a cure for type 1 for them. I do say that we have a chance with research to avoid the next generation. That is what my mom set her sights on (my sons). It is what I have set my sights on my sights on (my grandchildren and their children). Yes we will beat this one way or another. We have to set our sights forward. I hope both your brave sons know how much we tired to stop it in their generation and how much we will need them for the next if we are to be successful. And who knows maybe, just maybe we will find the long term answer for them as well, after all we have been seeking that answer for 60 years now. We dont give up very easily.

Comment by Stacey Simms on May 15, 2014 at 1:56pm

Rick, I agree with you about a cure. It would be wonderful, but we have to live in the here & now. I love what you say about setting sights forward. I do hope my son's children won't have to face this. Best to you!

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