Six years ago, Kaitlyn, my husband, and I sat in the hospital waiting room. Kaitlyn had been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes a couple of months before, and we were waiting to meet with the doctor for our first routine checkup. (It was anything but routine for us!) Everything was still very new, very different, and very challenging. We were still getting the hang of giving shots, checking blood sugar, and counting carbs, and we didn’t know what our doctor visits would entail. We had so many questions.

Seated near us in the waiting room were another couple and their daughter. The girl looked to be about 13 years old. She was cute and calm and didn’t seem nervous at all. We could see that she wore a pump at her waist. I think her dad saw the glazed look in our eyes and could tell that we were newbies. He struck up a conversation with us. Our questions came pouring out. He talked to us about doctors, pumps, A1C results, what would happen at the appointment, and how often we would come to the hospital. He assured us that things would get better. Our conversation came to an end as his daughter was called up by the nurse. But before they left, we thanked them, and he looked at my husband and said, “Hey, man. I know how you feel. We were there too. In 10 more years, you’ll be having this conversation with someone else, giving them a hand.”

Well, it hasn’t been 10 years yet, but we’ve had several conversations with others who have been newly diagnosed in recent months, and I always think about that conversation with the dad in the waiting room. My husband had a conversation just the other day with one of his coworkers whose niece was just diagnosed. She is really close with the family and wants to be a big support for her sister and niece. The insights and encouragement my husband was able to give were a big help to her.

Another one of these newly diagnosed families is actually that of my best friend from high school. Stacey and I were inseparable in high school and became roommates in college and bridesmaids for each other as we each got married. Since then, our lives have drifted apart as we’ve both had families and lived in different states. We’ve always kept in touch, but it wasn’t until recently that we really connected again. She emailed me one day, telling me that her oldest son was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. Naturally, they were having a really hard time with it, and I was the one that was able to offer support to her and her family.

I think about our dear Craig, Jen, and James, who were able to offer such support to us, and of others, like the man in the waiting room. If you find yourself at the beginning of this long journey, I hope you’re surrounded by those who can give you support and love like we got at the beginning. One day, you’ll be on the other side giving help to others too.

Editor’s note: The JDRF Mentor Program helps connect parents with other local families managing type 1 diabetes, so no one has to feel alone. Click here for more info.

Disclaimer: The experiences and suggestions recounted in these articles are not intended as medical advice, and they are not necessarily the “typical” experiences of families with a child who has type 1 diabetes. These situations are unique to the families depicted. Families should check with their healthcare professionals regarding the treatment of type 1 diabetes and the frequency of blood glucose monitoring. Jen and Kim are real moms of kids with type 1 diabetes and have been compensated for their contributions to this site.

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