Diabetes In Children
I got really sick when I was about 9. I started getting really thirsty, lost a lot of weight, felt really tired. It seemed to have happened quite quickly. Mum insisted I go to the doctor but I kept refusing.
Until one morning I just couldn’t get out of bed. That’s when mum had it with my resistance and took me straight to the children’s hospital.
By the time I was assessed I was slipping into unconsciousness. That’s when they told my parents that according to my skyrocketing blood sugar levels, I had type 1 diabetes.
The only way to get me into a normal range was to take injections of insulin because supposedly, my pancreas could no longer make insulin. I was hospitalized for a couple of weeks until they stabilized me.
I remember the doctors telling my frightened parents that this was for life. I over heard my grandma saying she thought I would probably die. I knew it must be bad.
From then on the endless appointments began. To the counselor, the dietician, the local GP, the endocrinologist, eye specialist, the diabetes educator, back to the dietician.
I had to measure every bit of food and drink. Learn the content of carbohydrate in every food. Calculate and write down what I was eating and when. Document every blood sugar reading, insulin injection on a chart and graph.
I had to have blood and kidney tests every 3 months. I had to prick my finger and test my blood every 3 hours. I had to test my urine for ketones. Had to inject insulin several times a day.
Back then the needles were quite thick compared to how thin the are now, so I had a lot of bruises, which I was very embarrassed about.
I had to be careful about exercise and write down the intensity level and how long I was exercising for, whether I ate something before hand.
Anything that caused stress from getting sunburn, exposed to my parents arguing, not doing well in school, getting a cold, not fitting in well enough, stress from planning for high school… everything could have a detrimental effect on my blood sugar levels.
Most of the time my little body was utterly exhausted. My head was in a daze, I felt semi conscious. I was scared of just not knowing what my body was going to do. I just wanted to be like everyone else, and play without having to have to think about all of this.
I felt the weight of responsibility on my parents too. This changed the whole family dynamic. I had to carry sweets, my insulin, glucometer, and identification everywhere and live in fear in case my blood sugars dropped. I was just 10 years old.
It has been a tremendous 30 year journey living with this. I have felt that my entire life I could never quite rest and let my guard down. Every moment has to be calculated and kept track of.
On my journey I did however pick up a lot of helpful tips that I wished someone told me about earlier. I believe lack of proper education is life altering. I learned the hard way. It might surprise you but, the most beneficial things about managing this condition I didn’t learn from the professionals.