Q: Our 4-year-old son was just diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, seemingly out of nowhere. What symptoms did we miss? Our pediatrician asked us if we had noticed any bed-wetting, but isn’t that normal for a 4-year-old?
A: It’s so easy for parents to beat themselves up over this, but take a second to think about it: Your 4-year-old child is thirsty and drinks more water and then later wets the bed. What parent is going to think, wow, could these be signs of type 1 diabetes? Other symptoms, such as weight loss and fatigue, can be easily overlooked or attributed to normal events, like a really busy summer or a sudden growth spurt. Even diabetes experts can miss red flags in their own children. Case in point: An endocrinologist I know was shocked to find out his child had type 1 diabetes after he had waved off the symptoms as nothing more than a passing phase. It can happen to the best of us.
So what do you do with these troubling emotions? Instead of looking back and feeling guilty, I say: Start looking forward. The good news is that your child’s type 1 diabetes was identified. And the better news is that we know how to treat it. Rather than spending your time raking over the past for clues, invest your energy in learning more about diabetes care and the steps you can take to create a long, healthy and fruitful future for your entire family.
Once your child’s blood sugar is under control, chances are you will feel a big wave of relief, and these feelings will dissipate. If it seems like guilt and other emotions continue to linger, however, it’s a good idea to check in with the therapist or counselor attached to your child’s care team.
–Jennifer Rein, MSW, LICSW, is a social worker and type 1 diabetes care team member at Children’s Hospital Boston.
Disclaimer: The information in these articles is not intended as medical advice. Families should check with their healthcare professionals regarding individual care.