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Life with Diabetes: From a Parents Perspective

August 5, 2011

Caitlin Waters shares her and her parents story of when she was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes over 15 years ago.

One day in May of 1996 I started feeling so lethargic. I laid around all weekend rushing to the bathroom constantly and didn’t want to eat anything, which was very odd for me. That Monday when I was getting dressed for school I tried on every pair of pants I had and everything was falling right off. I went downstairs to tell my mom that I had a crisis and had nothing to wear to school. My parents started talking and they decided I needed to go to the doctor. As my mom and I were walking out the door my dad yelled to her and said “Sherry, remember to mention diabetes runs in our family.” My mom yelled back “Joe, she does not have diabetes!”

About an hour and two finger pricks later my pediatrician told my mom I had type 1 diabetes. My mom started crying hysterically and had to go into another room and call my dad to tell him that unfortunately he was right. I was scared. I had no idea what type 1 diabetes was… all I knew was that my mom was crying a lot, that I was being rushed to Children’s Hospital and my finger still hurt from the pricks.

When I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age 6, my parents were devastated to say the least.

“With the initial diagnosis came utter and complete sadness.  The realization that your child’s life is forever altered is a weight that is impossible to describe. We never dreamed we would be giving our own child shots 3 or 4 times a day. We were overwhelmed with the responsibility as caregivers to ensure that her diet, exercise, blood sugar, etc were all managed correctly. Once you work through the initial shock there were still months and years of sleepless nights and worrisome days (we still have them from time to time).” – Sherry Waters

When I was diagnosed, my older brother Austin was 7, my younger brother Dylan was 2 and my younger sister Jenna was 2 months old. Of course Dylan and Jenna had no idea what was going on but my brother Austin knew something was up. When I came home from the hospital my parents explained to Austin what was going on. He of course didn’t fully understand but he gave me a huge hug and told me he loved me.

“It really impacted not only us as parents but her siblings, friends, extended family as well.  We had to adopt a very regimented schedule for when we ate meals, there was no more sleeping in on the weekends, we had to wake Caitlin up to test her blood sugar and feed her breakfast.  Holiday meals with aunts, uncles, grandparents all centered around what time Caitlin needed to eat. I would describe it as a loss of freedom to come and go as you please, not just as a parent but really more so for the child.  You can never just pick up on a whim and do something without thinking — do I need to take insulin, do I have a snack, and do I have a test kit?”

My parents did a great job at keeping my childhood normal. Although we had to make a few adjustments in our lives, they never made me feel different than my other 3 siblings. When I would get in my moods of feeling down my parents would always tell me “We would do anything to take this away from you, unfortunately we can’t, so you need to stay strong.” Now that I am off at college my parents still worry about me, but I touch base with them at least every few days to let me know everything’s ok.

To my family, especially my parents, you have all been so amazing and I couldn’t be more blessed. For all your encouraging words and support I am truly grateful and know I couldn’t have done it without you all… and as my parents always say, “Everything’s going to be alright!”

Get tips on how to raise your child to effectively manage their diabetes at the JDRF Diabetes Connect Vendor Fair on August 20, 2011 for a workshop with Jeanine Connolly — Zen & the Art of Diabetes Management: Raising Warrior Princes and Princesses.

To learn more about the JDRF Dallas chapter, visit our JDRF Dallas website!

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