If your child has recently been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, your family will have a learning curve as you get the hang of proper care and a new routine.
Your lives will change, but in time you'll get more comfortable with this "new normal."
As you make adjustments, you can take comfort in knowing this autoimmune disease doesn’t have to limit your child. "Kids with diabetes can do everything other kids can do," says Andrea Petersen Hulke of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.
Hospitals offer educational courses that can give your family and caregivers the insight needed to help manage this new situation.
The main change is learning to frequently check and adjust blood glucose levels (also called "blood sugar"). It may need checking 10 to 12 times a day. How much insulin your child needs will depend on the timing of meals, the types of food eaten, and her activity levels.
It can take a bit of math skill to keep blood sugar levels within a healthy range. But it will get easier with practice. Even if you make a mistake, once you learn the symptoms of how your child reacts when her levels are too low or high, you’ll know how to fix it.
"The math was freaky at first, but there are so many tools to help," says Lisa Sterling, who found out her daughter (now 17) had type 1 when she was 11. Logs, meters, and online trackers will help you stay on top of things.
Insulin can be given by shots (syringe or pen) or by pump. Doctors often start with shots while families learn the basics. A pump is a small computer that gives a steady dose of insulin. You still need to track blood sugar levels to help the pump work right. You, your doctor, and child will decide together which device your child should use.
"The goal is to manage diabetes around your child's life,” not the other way around, says Jane Chiang, MD, of the American Diabetes Association.