Today is World’s Diabetes Day.
While modern medicine has made great strides in Type 1 (Juvenile) Diabetes management since the discovery of artificial insulin 90 years ago, the fact is, there is still no cure.
It is believed that more than 300,000 Canadians are battling Type 1 Diabetes, and the numbers are steadily increasing. (Source: JDRF Canada)
After spending the morning with my daughter, working on getting her blood sugar back up to normal before I dropped her off at school (she’s had a trend of low blood sugars all weekend – a “low” is 3.9 mmol/l or less), I am on a bit of a rant today. Fellow parents of T1’s, sing it with me if you know the tune.
Here is my short list of Do’s and Don’ts, when dealing with a child with diabetes or his/her parents. (It is by no means complete. I’m hoping to see some of yours in the comments to this post.)
1) Don’t come up to me in a restaurant when I am with my daughter and ask me if she has “sugar diabetes.” First of all, such a condition does NOT exist. Also, regardless of the circumstances, please suppress your need to look me up and down and tell me that because I am overweight, I must surely feed my daughter nothing but potato chips and pizza and Dr. Pepper, and if I just stopped allowing her to eat that way, she wouldn’t need insulin injections. Type 1 Diabetes has NOTHING to do with lifestyle. I sincerely doubt that any parent of a child with T1 would wish this condition on anyone, even their worst sworn enemy.
2) Don’t assume that the diet of a person with Type 1 Diabetes is severely restricted, with not an ounce of sugar allowed. It was an assumption that I made several years ago, but with the help of a team of friendly and knowledgeable dieticians, I am now helping my daughter make sensible food choices based on her daily carbohydrate allotment. Sometimes she is even allowed a bit of ice cream, provided it has been accounted for in her daily meal plan.
3) Further to Point #2, if my daughter happens to be under your watch, say, for example, as a student in your classroom, please allow her to finish her snacks and lunch before she is sent outside for recess. She is given a predetermined dose of both rapid-acting and slow-acting insulin first thing every morning, and it has to work properly over the course of the day with the food she has packed in her lunch-bag. If she tests her blood sugar at lunchtime and the reading is higher than it should be, it is NOT your cue to step in and deny her food to drive the number back down. Quite often, the opposite will happen, which is very dangerous. If you have a question or a concern, CALL ME.
4) Do treat my daughter like the strong, vibrant, creative and loving child that she is. She may have diabetes, but she needs to know that diabetes will never have her. Please include her in birthday parties and other social events just like you would any other friend of your child.
5) Do consider directing some of your charity dollars to the Canadian Diabetes Association or the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, or supporting third-party fundraising events in your community. Every penny helps. Without adequately funded research initiatives, such as the Artificial Pancreas Project, we will be unable to take that necessary step forward towards a cure for Type 1 Diabetes.