When my nephew James was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, it was a shock for the whole family. I had just given birth when I heard the news — literally, Jen actually babysat my kids during my delivery and then the following day took James in to the doctor. As I sat in my hospital room, I pondered about all that would mean for James, for Jen, and for their whole family. I never would have guessed then that my own child would also be diagnosed just a few years later.
Before Kaitlyn’s diagnosis, I figured that diabetes was something that would be James’ trial, but that it would never directly affect any of my children. Naturally, when Kaitlyn was diagnosed I was shocked and devastated. However, I finally realized that type 1 diabetes was something that could happen to any member of my family — my kids, nieces, nephews, etc. Logically, it was much more than coincidence that two first cousins were diagnosed. My husband comes from a large family of five children including two sets of twins. Between the five of them, there are now 17 first cousins. After Kaitlyn, the second of these cousins, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, I am sure that every one of my husband’s siblings had the same thought that I did…Who’s next?
I have to admit, I’ve become a bit of a crazy person. I have tested my kids’ blood sugar levels countless times, and I keep a bottle of ketone strips in the bathroom cupboard, so I can check for ketones if I’m ever concerned about them. When any of my kids are especially cranky or seem to be drinking a lot of water or going to the bathroom more often, I automatically start thinking the worst. Even when my friends or sisters-in-law mention that something is a little “off” with one of their kids, I start diagnosing in my head. For a person who has always been pretty carefree and optimistic when it comes to health issues, I think I’ve become a bit of a hypochondriac!
The hospital where Kaitlyn was diagnosed is participating in ongoing research for type 1 diabetes, and part of the research they’re doing is screening siblings and first cousins for an antibody that is associated with type 1 diabetes. Although I really want to support diabetes research as much as I can, I have not been able to bring myself to get my other children tested yet, because I am too scared! I know my kids won’t necessarily become diabetic if they test positive for the antibody, but I think knowing that one of them could have it might put me over the edge. It’s almost as though I’d be constantly waiting for the day that I would see a high number on the blood glucose screen and have to drive another child down to the hospital. These are my concerns and I think they are reasonably well-founded! However, I think I’d like to challenge those feelings and replace fear with facts. The truth of it is, diabetes research is important and I should do my part to help make progress toward a cure. Who knows, I could find out that my other kids don’t have the antibody. Either way, I think I’ll get there… I just need a little time.
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.