By: Jose F. Cara
I am a pediatric endocrinologist. I have been in practice for 18 years and see 12 to 15 kids every day.
Through the years, I have developed a list of issues I feel every child with diabetes should be told by his or her pediatric endocrinologist.
Here is what I want every kid to know:
1. Your Health-Care Team is on Your Side
As physicians, nurses, diabetes educators, dietitians and other health-care providers, we want you to stay healthy and free of complications. I know we sometimes come across as "the heavy," but try to think of us as coaches who are trying to train you to do your best.
2. Your Parents Are on Your Side
It may not seem like it at times, but your parents care very deeply about you. Sometimes they don’t know how to show it, except by making sure you stay healthy.
3. It’s Okay to Hate Diabetes
You are entitled to hate diabetes. Nobody asked you if you wanted to have diabetes and yes, it stinks, big-time. But you still need to take care of yourself.
4. It’s Okay to Blow off Steam
It’s important to let your emotions out, but in a way that doesn’t hurt you or someone else. Sports are a good way to let steam out. Try hitting a punching bag or yell as loud as you can. Paint, draw, write or do whatever works for you.
5. What You Do to Take Care of Your Diabetes Makes a Big Difference in Your Overall Control
Following your meal plan, taking your shots, testing your blood sugar and adjusting your insulin based on your blood sugar values goes a long way to staying healthy with diabetes.
6. Sometimes Even When You Do All the Right Things, Your Blood Sugars May Not Seem to Stay in Control
This is especially the case during puberty. It’s important not to give up. Stick with it and it will pay off, even if you may not think so at the time.
7. Talk to Other Kids with Diabetes
Camp is a great place to meet other kids with diabetes and compare "war stories." Remember that diabetes is different for every person who has it. Treatments may be very different from one person to another. Some people may find it easier to take care of their diabetes and others may find it harder. That’s just the way it is.
8. Think About the Choices That You Can Make to Take Better Care of Yourself
In any situation, you have many choices of what you do to take care of yourself. Try to think of at least three choices every time you are faced with a diabetes "challenge" and pick the one that you think will get you to where you want to be.
9. You Are Not Measured by the Level of Your Blood Sugars
Sometimes we think about blood sugars as being "good" or "bad" depending on their level. As a result, we think of ourselves as being "good" or "bad" based on our blood-sugar levels.
A blood-sugar level is only a reflection of how well your body is using the food that you eat as energy, based on the insulin dose that you gave. It is useful for helping you adjust your insulin based on the amount of food you eat. It says nothing about you as a person.
10. General Pediatricians and Family Physicians are Good Doctors for Your Routine Health Care
However, because diabetes changes so fast, these doctors may not be able to provide up-to-date care. You should always see a doctor who specializes in the care of childhood diabetes. This is usually a pediatric endocrinologist or a pediatric-diabetes "team," complete with a pediatric endocrinologist, diabetes educator, dietitian, social worker and physical therapist or exercise physiologist.
11. Even If You Have Diabetes, You Are Still a Kid
Have fun and enjoy yourself while staying healthy. You do not need to dedicate your life to keeping your diabetes in control. You have more important things to do, like becoming a lawyer, a doctor, a plumber or an artist.
You will need to take care of your diabetes along the way, and if you do you will be able to make your dreams come true.