The risks are well worth the rewards.
Editor's Note: While this columnist is no longer writing for dLife.com and we have ceased to update the information contained herein, there is much to be read here that is still applicable to the lives of people with diabetes. If you wish to act on anything you learn here, be sure to consult your doctor first. Please enjoy the column!
April 2008 — We have probably all been in the situation of hearing from a friend, co-worker, or neighbor of a family with a child newly diagnosed with diabetes. It immediately takes us back to the time when our child was diagnosed, that terrible kick in the gut shock and panic that we felt comes rushing back to us. I will always remember the massive realization that in one day my child went from being completely healthy to having a chronic life-threatening condition. One day we had no worries about our child being healthy and stable and the next day we knew that if we failed to be vigilant in his care, he could go into a coma and his life could be at risk.
This kind of change affects your life's equilibrium in a way that is never the same again. You no longer take health for granted. Terrible things no longer only happen to other people. And worst of all, your family is no longer untouchable. So it is understandable that when you hear of another family experiencing this that you want to reach out to them in a way that is helpful, in a way that makes them feel less alone. I think that most of us would do just about anything to lessen those terrible feelings for another family.
If it feels so natural to reach out to these newly diagnosed families, don't we expect it to be easy for them to accept our help? It is surprising how many people will resist help from others in this situation. There are so many reasons why a person might not easily accept help. Maybe they feel awkward talking about their feelings with a stranger, even one with whom they suddenly have a lot in common. Maybe they feel that they have their own friends and family to support them. Or maybe they feel they "are not support group people," maybe having trouble admitting that they might need support in the first place. They might think support groups are great for people who need them, but they are doing fine on their own or need to find their own way.
When our son was first diagnosed, I couldn't get enough support. Even though it did feel awkward at first to be talking to a stranger about such a personal and difficult experience, I took support wherever I could find it. Maybe it was easier to accept help from that stranger because she was the first person who really knew what we were going through. She had been there. For me, admitting I might need help doesn't make me feel weak in any way. I see it as recognizing a need and finding a way to get it met through the support of others. I was the first to admit that I had absolutely no idea what I was doing or what to expect.
I know that there are a large percentage of people who have trouble asking for or accepting help from others in general, and not only when it comes to parenting a child with diabetes. I guess I am really glad I wasn't one of those people because being in the situation of having a child newly diagnosed with diabetes is hard enough, without trying to do it all on your own. Whether it is pride, embarrassment, overcoming stereotypes about support groups, or branching out into a new group of people you might not normally socialize with, allow me to borrow a catch phrase from Nike and JUST DO IT. The risks are well worth the rewards.
dLife's Viewpoints columnists are not all medical experts, but everyday people living with diabetes and sharing their personal experiences, most often at a set point in time. While their method of diabetes management may work for them, everyone is different. Please consult with your diabetes care team before acting on anything you read here to find out what will work best for you.
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