emotions

Diabetic tips for the whole family

“One of my children has diabetes, the other doesn’t. How do I make changes that the whole family can adopt so that my daughter doesn’t feel like she’s making our lives more difficult because of diabetes?” Fatima Richards.

Dear Fatima,

The emotions that parents deal with when a child is diagnosed with diabetes are the same as any serious medical condition. Confusion, shock, denial, sadness, anger, fear and guilt are some of these emotions.

Unfortunately, guilt is a feeling common to many family members, the patient as well as the parents. I believe that guilt is one of the most destructive negative emotions – it drains you so that you can’t focus on more important things.

Getting the whole family to deal with these feelings openly at the time of diagnosis helps with long term adjustment. As you all learn to live with diabetes, you will become more used to it and find ways to fit it into your life more naturally. Fitting diabetes care into as normal a life as possible is the major goal.

Remember, too, that if all family members have a positive attitude, life with diabetes will be much easier. One day at a time is a good option!

How to help the whole family adjust to diabetes:

  • Keep your family routine as close to the previous ‘normal’ as possible.
  • Whenever possible, fit diabetes care around your child’s lifestyle, rather than her life revolving around diabetes.
  • Remember, children with diabetes are children first. Their diabetes should not define who they are.
  • Explain any changes that are made because of diabetes to everyone in the family.
  • Remember that nobody is being punished because of the diabetes. Everyone is just going to follow a healthier lifestyle. And this is a good thing.

– Jeannie Berg, Diabetes Educator

Photo by Jose Ibarra on Unsplash

Support during a diabetic pregnancy

“I’m sure all husbands worry about their pregnant wives, but it’s extra worrying because my wife is diabetic and has to be in such strict control – or it could really harm our baby. I’m trying to be supportive, but sometimes it’s difficult… Especially because she’s so emotional!” Mark Roberts.

Dear Mark,

You have my sympathy!

Women who are pregnant can be on a real rollercoaster ride of emotions – highs and lows and everything in between. While some women seem to ‘bloom’ during pregnancy and are full of life, happiness and vitality, other women are tearful and apprehensive.

Pregnancy is a powerful experience: huge hormonal changes and a life-changing event are a lot to deal with. A woman who has diabetes has even more on her plate.

It is wonderful that you are supportive. Part of the support that you give should be helping your wife eat the right kind of diet, check her blood sugar regularly and do the right exercise.

The fear you have about the health of your baby is real, but this is also relevant for any pregnancy. Hopefully you have planned the pregnancy and worked out an action plan with your health care team. If your wife is keeping to her programme, the risk of anything going wrong is minimal. Contact her gynae or endocrinologist if you feel that something is not right: it is natural to worry, but one of the best solutions is not to nag her.

Mood swings tend to happen most frequently in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. The mood swings usually decline between 3 to 6 months because the levels of the hormones become more constant. Here your wife will start to feel better and have more energy and hopefully be less emotional.

The emotions are difficult to cope with, I agree. It can be very helpful to allow yourself time out if the going gets tough! Remember that a pregnancy affects both partners: the golden rule is to talk about how you are feeling. You must voice your worries, concerns and anxieties. This goes a long way to relieving them.

Most importantly, don’t forget to take time for you and your wife to relax together and enjoy this wonderful, intimate and very exciting time.

Sometimes just being supportive and loving is the best thing you can do.

Enjoy your baby!

– Jeannie Berg, Diabetes Educator