Diagnosed with T1D The SHOCK-N-AWE

So when you get the call that your child has just been diagnosed with T1D it is definitely a SHOCK to the family. How could this possibly happen!? In our case there was no family history and my teen daughter was 100 lbs., had a pretty balanced diet, was in shape and rarely got sick. As you will be told,  Type 1 Diabetes is not something you get from eating bad or being overweight, but it has more to do with…..wait for it…… autoimmune issues. We will get into autoimmune discussions later, but they definitely reap havoc on many people. So now that you have a diagnosis, the next step is to jump on the nearest computer and start Googling what this really means and here comes the AWE SH** part, you find out that it’s life long and the finger pokes and shots are the best things about Type 1 and if you do not take care of yourself, it is all downhill from there.

With the Shock-N-Awe of being diagnosed with T1D fresh on your mind, what’s next?

That’s right, damage control. How can you keep your family from tearing it’s self apart with grief. You may have a child and or wife on the other end of the phone wanting an answer to a problem that does not have one. So in this case here is what I did…. I sat back in my chair and took a deep breath and said things could be worse, a lot worse.

Now to give you a little background, unfortunately, my family is no stranger to medical issues and I have met a lot of parents at Seattle Children’s Hospital and my thoughts immediately went to a an elevator ride I had shared with another dad. I was making one of my many Starbucks runs and I noticed a dad with the traditional “I am going home” pile of clothes and stuff on a cart. There was a smile on his face and lightened spirit, so I said to him “looks like you are out of here,” and he replied with in an excited tone “I have been here for the last 6 months and I can’t wait to get my family home” he went on to say that he had rented a place locally because they needed to stay close, but for now, “They were out of the hospital and together as a family.” I often go back to that elevator conversation because over the years I have come to believe that in medical terms “winning” is all a matter of perspective. Now I know that there are people out there that have never had one bad thing happen to them and this may be a little hard to understand, but for this cowboy, it ain’t my first rodeo. So I chose to look at the situation with optimism – and please don’t confuse my optimism with callousness or sugar coating. The fact that I was not getting a call that my daughter was killed in an accident or had cancer was a mark in the win column for now.

Taking one more deep breath I called a few key family members so they could get the word out and a couple of family friends that I knew had a child with T1D. I think this was a good move because there was a lot to learn in a short amount of time and this gave me the basics and let me know that we had some support if needed.  Then with one last deep breath I was off to Seattle Children’s Hospital and as I was driving I was trying to figure out how we could turn this into a positive and start moving ahead with our lives and then a simple idea came to mind, how about a diversion. No matter what put you in the hospital, never under estimate the power of diversion, even if it is for a few minutes.

Once I got to the room it was pretty heavy morale, with finger pokes here and shots there. Everything was new to us and let’s face it, no one wants to finger poke and take a shot every 2 to 3 hours and then have a Lantus shot for the evening. So I mentioned my diversion tactic to my daughter, “I guess now you are going to want a pup to train for a diabetes alert dog.” She jumped on that statement like a lion hunting a gazelle. With a quick flick of the laptop my daughter was surfing the net for just the type of dog she wanted and had for the time being forgot about her T1D. The diversion had worked and now all she could talk about was the new dog she was going to get. We all knew that this did not fix the problem, but it did give her something to research and take her mind off what was really happening.

Next up is the in-hospital diabetes training and I am the test dummy!  Oh c’mon, when was the last time you got to stick it to dad and get a way with it!?

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