In Canada, there are 33,000 school-aged children between the ages of 5 and 8-years old who have diabetes. There are thousands more who are younger than 5-years old. Diabetes is the second most serious disease in Canada and more than 11-million people are living with this disease in the country. There is no cure for diabetes. With treatment, the disease can be controlled. The treatment is every day, for the rest of your life.
What causes diabetes?
When we eat, our bodies convert the food that we consume into fuel. Sugar, carbohydrates, and fruits turn into glucose (sugar) for fast-burning fuel. Other foods, like meat, chicken, and some vegetables convert more slowly. The pancreas produces a hormone called insulin. This hormone metabolizes the food and moves the sugar into the cells for use. When our bodies do not produce that hormone, or it doesn’t produce enough to do the job, the sugar stays in our blood, and it damages the internal organs. Without treatment, diabetes will cause death.
When the body produces no insulin, it is Type 1 diabetes. The treatment includes insulin injection, diet, and exercise. When the body doesn’t produce enough or is ineffective in using the insulin it makes, that is Type 2 diabetes. This type can sometimes be controlled with medication, diet, and exercise. Both types must be monitored several times per day.
Monitoring your blood
To monitor your blood, you need a glucose blood meter. A diabetic needs to monitor their blood after each meal and anytime they feel their body is out of sorts. Contour meters are accurate and easy to use. They are made by Ascensia who have been pioneers in the industry for more than 70 years. Ascensia began making products to detect high blood sugar in the 1940s. By the 1950s they had created a way for diabetics to test their urine and know when they were in trouble. Before that, a person with type 1 diabetes had a 50% chance of dying in their 40s of end-stage kidney failure. Ascensia had a strong interest in finding a way to help these people live.
People find it easy to teach children how to use the Contour Next EZ. This is a meter anyone can use and it will save the readings.
Distress & Depression
It is hard to be a kid. All kids want to fit in. They are usually afraid of being singled out and made fun of. It only takes one bully, one nasty name, one time being the center of the joke to ruin a child’s year. They want to be able to drink soda and eat pizza at the mall like all the other kids. The last thing they want to do is be seen taking their insulin shot. Even people who are trying to be supportive will sometimes call attention to the child who really wants to remain out of the spotlight.
Your child may feel overwhelmed and confused at times. When they are at school or away from home, they do not have you watching over them. They know they have to take care of themselves. When they are busy playing or hanging out with their friends, they have to be the one to speak up and say, “I need a break”. They can’t roll their eyes and blame you when they need to drink some juice or have a snack. They have to speak up, and that can be scary.
A child learns to react based on how their parent reacts. If you freak out and turn every blood reading into a serious problem, they will react the same way. As a family, diabetes must be accepted as a way of life, and taking care of it is a responsibility. It is important, but it is not a major problem if his reading is a point or two higher than you want it to be. Teach him absolutes. When he hits “X” number, he is to go to the teacher or adult in charge. Teaching your child the proper response to any situation is the best thing you can do for him.
What can you do?
There are several ways to help your child adjust to his diabetes as he grows through the stages in his life.
- Talk to your child. It is great to let him feel comforted as you care for him, but be sure you explain what you are doing and why you are doing it. This helps him understand when you hand off the job to him.
- Encourage him to talk to you. If someone makes him feel a certain way about his illness or routine, encourage him to tell you. If it is a child you should speak to the principal. If it is a teacher or school nurse, You need to address this. He must feel he can come to them for help without feeling like he is in the way.
- Allow him to help choose the foods he takes.
Click here for many more ideas on how to help your child. If you feel like your child is having problems coping or if he seems down and afraid, do not assume it will go away. Instead, speak to his doctor about getting him some professional help.