I didn’t think my kids would get T1 Diabetes either! These are the signs I missed
It never occurred to me that my children would get Type 1 Diabetes. To be honest I didn’t really know what the difference between Type 1 Diabetes and Type 2 Diabetes was. My husband’s cousin had two children with Type 1 and I mistakenly thought it must have to do with their diet or lifestyle. Turns out I was very wrong!
Two years ago our lives were tipped upside down when our son, Josh, became life threateningly ill. He had to be rushed to the hospital in an ambulance and we shocked to learn that he was only days away from kidney failure. How did I as a parent miss that he was so sick? That is a question I have asked myself hundreds of times! I mistook the signs that I did see, for him being a moody teenager. Now I cannot think back to how I missed the signs that he was really ill without the tears welling up. The mother guilt is huge!! He is doing really well now but it was a long journey back to recovery and I would give anything to take away the disease and have it myself instead.
One evening six weeks ago I noticed that my daughter had drunk three large drinks in the space of a few minutes. Thirst is one of the main symptoms so we grabbed my sons blood glucose meter and it confirmed my worst fears that Maia has Type 1! We caught it earlier but I still missed some of the early signs like tiredness and hunger and I still feel guilty all over again. It is most common for children to develop Type 1 between the ages of 9 and 12 but it can strike at any time. My children seem to develop it in puberty so I mistook the early symptoms for typical teenage traits but as the mother of three teenagers I often note how similar they are to toddlers. So I imagine it would be easy to miss these same signs in your toddler as well.
Here are some of the signs that your child could have Type 1.
– Ongoing tiredness
– Grumpiness, tantrums or mood swings
– Dark circles under the eyes
– Weight loss & muscle loss
– Extreme thirst
– Extreme hunger
– Craving sugar
– Spots or sores not healing
– Cramps in arms and legs
– Dehydration and dry skin
Only 10% of all Diabetics are Type 1. Often when Diabetes is talked about by the media they are actually talking about Type 2 which is caused by diet and lifestyle issues. Most people with Type 1 wish that they did not have the same name for both diseases because they are so different. The hardest thing for kids with Type 1 is that people think that what they have what is being spoken about on the TV. People often presume that what they have is caused by eating too much sugar or that they can’t eat sugar. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease that is caused when the immune system kills the beta cells in the pancreas that make insulin. So Type 1 Diabetics have to inject insulin several times a day. Type 2 is caused by diet and weight issues that stop the body from processing the insulin they have.
My kids hate telling people that they have T1 Diabetes because people often say ‘ but you are so skinny!’ or ‘should you eat that?’. Most kids want to blend in not stand out. The problem with not telling people is when a Diabetic takes too much insulin which can happen they can have what is call a Hypo and if left untreated they can have seizure or end up in a coma. So we need to people around them to know. If other people had more understanding about T1 Diabetes, my childrens lives would be definitely be easier. The other misconception about T1 is that it is manageable. It doesn’t feel manageable. Yes it it true that with medication they will not die, but maintaining stable sugar levels and avoiding the long list of health complications that include potential blindness and kidney issues, is a constant battle. My children have to inject insulin 4-7 times a day. It is awful watching your children battle with something that you cannot fix for them.
The odds are your child wont get Type 1 but according to our Endocrinologist thirty percent of the population carry the gene for it but they think something spontaneous triggers the immune system to attack the pancreas. But I think there has to be something genetic that lead us to having two children with it. We have a third child and we are praying that she doesn’t get it too. Whatever the reasons the number of Type 1 diabetics is increasing. There are 13 at my son’s school which well above average according to the statistics. So it pays to know symptoms to look for and if you have a bit of understanding about how Type 1 is different to Type 2 it will make the lives of those with Type 1 a bit easier.
I would be lying if I didn’t admit that we are really struggle with the fact that both Maia and Josh have this condition but we are eternally grateful that it is treatable. We know we are very lucky that both of them are such good kids who seem determined not to let T1 stop them. With the right medication and management our children will live long healthy lives and there are lots of parents who have children with much more difficult issues. If you are one of them, my heart goes out to you and we would love to hear your story.