Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Diabetes is Forever: A Life-changing Diagnosis

By E'Louise Ondash, RN

Diabetes type 1 is a monster of a disease.

I imagine that it must be like having a baby that will never grow up and be independent. Once you’ve given birth, you are forever responsible and this obligation will never go away. You’ll never be able to take a vacation from this “eternal” baby, and if you make a mistake, forget about your baby or don’t care for him properly, there is hell to pay.

The overwhelming reality is that diabetes type 1 is forever; there is no turning back.

I’ve known several adults with type 1 diabetes, as well as parents and grandparents of children with type 1. From my experience, they generally they don’t express how the disease has overwhelmingly altered their lives. They are brave. And since they don’t complain, I’ve never had the courage to ask, “How do you do it?” I often wonder how they live daily with diabetes, knowing its long-term consequences. 

As nurses, we work with and care for sick people all the time, so we tend to become somewhat complacent about disease and its effects – physical, mental and social. We sometimes forget that for these individuals, illnesses are a big deal. They can suddenly go from feeling “normal” to  learning that they are “chronically ill” as patients are when they receive a diagnosis of type 1 diabetes. The news impacts them in every facet of their lives―including their physical and emotional health, their daily routines, and even their financial health.

Sometimes nurses need to be reminded just how devastating such news can be, as I was when I read the recently published “Shot: Staying Alive with Diabetes” by Amy F. Ryan. The author, an attorney in Virginia, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 1996 at the age of 29.

Her book follows her unfolding awareness and realization of what having this disease means and how it changes the course of her life and those close to her.

Ryan’s journey gets off to a rocky start because she receives inadequate information and help, but she eventually understands the scope and enormity of what has happened. Her story is an excellent one to pass along to anyone who has been newly diagnosed.

Ryan’s story reminds us that those who meet the daily challenges of diabetes type 1 are courageous, tenacious and deserve a whole lot of credit.

What has been your experience with people/patients who are newly diagnosed with type 1 diabetes?

1 comment:

SJRN_Ruth said...

Type 1 Diabetes will need lifelong treatment and right now no cure is found. Although the right treatment plan can help someone diagnosed with juvenile diabetes cope up with its daily struggle and it helps to avoid other known complications. I have heard of Insulin Pump therapy as an alternative for insulin injection to at least lessen the pain of injection on children but it was also indicated that this type of treatment may not be suitable for everyone.

You can just imagine the pain and emotional stress that these kids are subjected to where as they deserve a better carefree life. This disease takes out the core of just being a kid and to be faced with such burden takes courage and resiliency.