This title makes perfect sense if you read my last post, wherein I compare type 1 diabetes to the act of breathing while swimming. To summarize, dealing with diabetes on a day-to-day basis is a lot like endurance swimming, and for many parents caring for a newly diagnosed child, it isn’t the arm and leg movements that are difficult to learn, but the process of breathing in a whole new environment — and the ability to continue doing so for a long time. Breathing — that’s the challenge!
Are you breathing properly? Are you living in such a way that you can do this for years to come?
I’ve thought a lot about this. I think two things need to be addressed before you can contemplate my advice. The first is that having been through this personally and having seen it many times, I want you to know that it gets easier. And the second is that TIME is one of the biggest helps.
But there are things you can do right now.
The best tip I can give has to do with attitude and perspective.
Know that it is going to be okay. Diabetes has been around for a long time. Your child is not alone, and there are expert medical treatments and advice out there. Your child can live a long and happy life and have a great childhood.
Accept that your child has diabetes and it is NOT YOUR FAULT. Nobody can “give” someone diabetes, and you didn’t give it to your child.
Stop thinking of blood sugar checks as “tests.” Blood sugar is checked so that you can know what to do next, not to judge you for what you already did. Let go of the idea that a less than ideal blood sugar occurred because you did something wrong. What is infinitely more important than the number is positively moving forward after every check.
Speaking of doing something wrong, know that it will most likely happen. Mistakes are important because they always teach. If you make an error, be grateful that you made it and caught it and that now you know better. A corollary to that is to be patient with others who will also make mistakes. I find that if I treat others with kindness and generosity, I am somehow also nicer to myself! Kind of the reverse of the golden rule — treat yourself as well as you treat others — but it works!
I also recommend finding a team. Maybe that means someone in your household that can help you bear the responsibilities of diabetes management. LET people in your life learn how to care for your child. Even if they aren’t as “good” at handling things as you are, let them learn and they will be able to help you.
Connect online if you can. I participate in the forums on Childrenwithdiabetes.com and have gone there for answers and support many times. I’ve also connected with others in my area through social media. It helps me not to feel alone. It helps to talk to someone who has been there!
Finally, look at taking care of yourself as an important part of your new routine. Take time to exercise. Get some sleep! If that sounds impossible, see my post about that. Isn’t EVERYTHING easier to deal with if you are well rested?
For me, I find great solace in prayer. Meditation can also bring great calm and healing.
Finally, to bring it all full circle, try taking some deep breaths. When the stress just gets too much to bear, when you feel like you can’t take one more step, take ten seconds and just breathe deeply. For whatever reason, doing this seems to reset my anxieties. It reminds me of the beautiful things in life; it reminds me that I’m grateful to be breathing, and it seems to slow everything down.
I truly hope this helps. I promise you that despite a diabetes diagnosis, life is truly good. When you learn how to swim, it doesn’t necessarily mean that swimming is easy. It can still be tiring and taxing to muscles. But once you learn how to breathe properly, it is also rewarding and beautiful.
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.