Children with diabetes 

Parents describe how they deal with having a diabetic child, including daily routines such as insulin injections, and how children can live life to the full.

Learn more about diabetes

Transcript of Children with diabetes

When you're first told,

it's a relief you've been told he's got something up with him

but at the same time, a bit of bereavement,

the fact that now your son's got a condition

that he's going to live with long term.

Overnight, you've gone from having a healthy three-year-old running about

to, suddenly, an unhealthy toddler.

We tend to assume with adults

that, well, if you give them a load of diabetes information

and a box of tricks, they'll get on and sort it out themselves.

And probably that's true.

For children, that's not the case

because, in a sense, that responsibility is delegated

to the parents.

Finding out our children were both diabetic,

you've lost something and you have to become a different family.

You suddenly have to become medical professionals.

And you are the first line of care for your children.

Your big concern is when they go off to school

because you've always managed, as a family, the child diabetes,

then your child's at school for six, seven hours

and somebody else is going to take over the control of the child's diabetes,

which is quite hard for some parents to accept.

It's absolutely critical that we get the school or nursery care

as right as is possible

and this does require quite an integrated approach

between the families and the school.

Some of Joe's teachers, really good and the school's been really supportive

and yet still there are times when a supply teacher comes in,

you know, who hasn't... Somehow, the message hasn't got through to them

that they've got a diabetic child in their class today.

It's a lot of a hassle

because, I mean, when you're like high in class,

you have to go and get your lunch box or wherever you keep your insulin,

get it out, you have to check how many you need,

you have to inject it.

Sometimes, you even have to phone up your mum if you forget,

to see how many you need.

They get interrupted all the time when they're playing,

they have to eat when they're already full.

They can eat a full meal and be low two hours later and they have to eat.

Lots of things that they have to put up with.

I say to my children, "You can complain about this as much as you want to."

"You can shout and get cross but it has to happen

because it keeps you alive, it's that simple."

Even to this day, I hate watching him give it to himself.

I can inject him, no problem, it doesn't faze me,

but when he was seven and eight and doing it himself, it upset me.

"Why does he have to do that to himself?"

That was one of the hardest things. Why does he have to inject himself?

At the moment, we're sort of in control of their care

and we can do the best we can to keep them healthy.

What you worry about is, well, when they get to their teens,

what if they kick back against that and they're cooking and getting drunk

and all of that can play havoc with your diabetes.

So it's that thing of really hoping they're OK

once they have to go out in the world.

It's very easy to think we're doing the short-term things,

getting the glucose testing right and the insulin injections and that stuff.

But actually it's, what's clear is, how we deal with it, a chronic condition,

how do you ensure that somebody really feels quite motivated

and how do you maintain that motivation

over, in the individual's case, life long,

but certainly in the parents' case, over the next ten, 15 or 20 years?

And that's the real challenge.

Going from a child with diabetes to a teenager with diabetes

is, one, letting them have more control over their own diabetes.

When they're a child, it's mum or dad that's looking after the diabetes.

You don't want them to think that diabetes will stop them doing anything.

They can lead a healthy life and do anything.

There's always horrific times when you make an error, right...

- (laughs) - Like you give the injection

but hadn't done any air shots and it was a new phial of insulin

so you're not sure how much insulin they've got.

Obviously, you take action to make sure they're OK once that's happened.

But don't beat yourself up about it,

you're only human, you've got to do this stuff all the time.

As times goes on, you become the expert

and you will know, as you get used to diabetes,

what's going to work and what's not.

They go into phenomenal levels of detail, much more than you need to know

and they talk about it and you've no idea what they're talking about.

The insulin scheme we're on, which is basal bolus,

the bolus is for food, like NovoRapid,

and the basal is background to hold you down throughout the day,

so you don't go high.

They know so much about it

it's hard for them to explain it to somebody else.

Blood-sugar testing allows you to try balance the amount of insulin they have

with the amount of energy they use each day

and the amount of food that they eat.

So those three things sound quite simple

but when you're talking about an 18-month-old,

you're trying to predict when you give them an injection at 8 o'clock

how much running around they're going to do

before they get to their lunch.

So don't worry about doing lots of blood tests

because you need to see what's happening.

It may look terrible to start with,

there's so much to learn, you think you'll never do it. You will.

People do and they do the most amazing things.

Your life changes quite a lot when you have a child with diabetes

and there's a lot of stuff to do and it's quite stressful.

But it does sort of become normal and you do become used to it

and then you focus on the more important things in life.

It does get better and life gets easier and you'll get through this.

And my son'll say the same, that life...

You can be healthy with diabetes and you can live life to the full.

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