How to Manage Type1 Diabetes
When I was pregnant with my second, there were fears that my son would be born with chromosomal defects that were linked to my late maternal age. I was blessed and my son turned out fine. Having been through that stressful ordeal, I am always sensitive about other family situations and how life can be so hard sometimes. In fact, I can’t imagine raising a child with a chronic illness or disease.
I recently spoke to Kaz and Rhiana Ehara who are a lovely couple, raising their daughter Chiyo who was diagnosed with type 1 Diabetes at the age of 2. Kaz and Rhiana also happen to be filmmakers, and decided that they wanted to document their journey as they dealt with the disease. Although Rhiana was very hesitant at first to be filmed, she decided that their message needed to be shared.
Their universal message: Parenting is hard and we need to be gentle and kind to ourselves and others. We have to shy away from judgement and support each other. I have to agree.
When Chiyo was first diagnosed, Kaz and Rhiana felt overwhelmed. I am sure most parents would feel this way.There was so much information and education about the disease to process. They had to learn as a family (along with their younger son Cai), how to deal and cope with Diabetes.
With Type 1 Diabetes, the pancreas doesn’t function properly, so insulin levels can skyrocket or plummet just as fast. When suffering from the disease, you have to constantly monitor your blood sugar and either eat sugary foods or inject yourself with insulin. It’s a tricky and sometimes impossible quest to regulate blood sugar levels.
Kaz and Rhiana were gracious enough to share their insight about how to deal with Type 1 Diabetes. Their advice can be applied to other illnesses and stressful situations, in my opinion as well.
1. Research – Educate yourself about diabetes. There is ton of information out there so you may feel overloaded. You don’t need to learn everything in one night.
2. Be Kind to Yourself – Try not to respond emotionally to blood sugar numbers that sometimes can be hard to control. The high and low levels are not a reflection of your parenting. Remove any expectations and notions of perfection.
3. Build a Support Network – Involve your partner in the care of your child. One parent will likely drive the care but their needs to be a default parent who can also support when things like caregiver exhaustion kicks in. Seek out diabetes support groups, D Camps (camps that cater to children suffering from diabetes), conferences and parenting groups.
4. Organization – It is really important to do your best to be organized and scheduled in order to deal with the disease. Children suffering from juvenile diabetes often follow patterns with their blood sugar and need to be fed at certain times of the day.
5. Involve the whole family – Other children/siblings can feel neglected. It’s important to integrate them and educate them about the disease. Cai (Chiyo’s younger brother) knows how to take blood sugar readings from his sister). It is also important to offer quality private time to the other siblings so he/she does not feel resentful.
Sweet Dreams for Chiyo premieres this Sunday, February 4th at 9PM (EST) on the CBC is a must-watch for all parents. The documentary is beautifully shot and is a solid piece of tranche de vie.