Diabetes the silent killer

Dear Bloggers,

I am familiar for a while now with the diagnoses diabetes but no one is telling you about the risk that you might possibly die of this bloody disease in the Netherlands about 40 of a 1000 men will die due to being overweight, high bloodpressure, kidney faillure or vascular problems. So it is really time to take more care of me and find a different way to care about the rest of my family. Otherwise I might get into really big trouble. Complications will sneak in sooner or later.

Some practical things that you can do to help during this time include the following:
Learn as much as possible about your disease. At times, ignorance or a lack of understanding is your worst enemy. Arm yourself with information in order to lessen frustration. Do not hesitate to ask questions about your disease. You may wish to keep a notebook with all of the medical records and information about your diagnosis; sometimes, you can be too numb or too upset at the hospital and realize later that you forgot everything the physician had said. Further you should stick to your diet and stay in shape as it is your body and your life.

Keep a journal of your feelings about your disease and the impact on your life. As time goes on, you may be able to look back and see that things are improving.
Learn about your health benefits so that you understand what expenses will be covered by insurance.

Continue doing your usual, daily activities. You will still have grocery shopping, laundry, and going through the mail to do on a daily or weekly basis. Having some of these "regular" activities will help you cope and feel more in control.
Take care of your family relationships. Although your primary focus is on your diabetes, it is important to also spend time as you normally would with your family, friends, and spouse. It is healthy to have fun together. Relieving stress and strengthening family relationships will allow you to cope better with your disease.

Utilize the support groups in the area, as well as national support groups and their resources. Find out about supportive services available at the hospital or doctors post to help you cope, such as the availability of social workers and/or meetings with other families. Do not be afraid to ask for help. Each family's need for support is unique. Friends and family members will often ask, "Is there anything I can do to help?" Consider saying "yes" to this question and ask them to pick up your groceries, help with the laundry or housecleaning, pick up your children from their extracurricular activities, or make dinner. "Assigning" a friend or family member something to do to help you will also help them feel like they are contributing.

Avoid emotionally draining situations. Sometimes, well-meaning friends and family members will say the worst possible thing at the time of a diabetes diagnosis especially on the bad news stories. They truly want to help or be supportive, but sometimes do not know how to respond. Their words may hurt you or disappoint you, even though that was not their intention. You must realize that people will not know what your needs are unless you tell them. Sometimes, it is simply easier to be forthright and tell someone "I would just like you to sit quietly with me and keep me company" or "I need to spend some time alone right now." Do not be afraid to express your needs during this time.

Other people may want to talk to you about their experiences with diabetes. They may believe that they are being helpful to you, but instead may be making your situation feel even more overwhelming. It is important for you to avoid these discussions if they are not helping you. It is healthy to be "selfish" and ask for what you need, as well as what you do not need during this time.
Share what you have learned. You will have important knowledge and skills that you learn as you experience your illness. You could help others and their families by sharing your experiences.

And how to explain your kids in my case:
School-aged children (6 to 12 years of age):
They need repeated reassurance that he/she is not responsible for the diabetes 
teaching that sadness, anger, and guilt are normal feelings 
allowing your child to keep feelings private, if that is preferred 
suggesting personal recording of thoughts, feelings through writing, drawing 
arranging for physical activity, when possible 
providing explanations for your child so it can understand about your diabetes and the treatment plan. 
answering all questions honestly and in understandable language, including, "Are you going to die?" (talk with diabetes care team about how to answer) 
listening for unasked questions 
facilitating communication with siblings, friends, and classmates, if desired 
teaching about normal feelings of fear, anxiety, sadness, or anger 
encouraging sibling to communicate feelings; suggesting sibling write, telephone, send drawings or taped message to patient 
explaining that parents' distress, sadness, or crying is okay

Adolescents (13 to 18 years of age and older):
giving information on normal emotional reactions to a diabetes diagnosis
encouraging expression of feelings to someone: parents, family, or classmates
tolerating any reluctance to communicate thoughts and feelings
encouraging journal keeping
providing repeated reassurance that they are not responsible for causing the diabetes
being included in all discussions with parents about diagnosis and treatment planning
being encouraged to ask questions (parents should listen for unasked questions)
addressing spiritual concerns about "Why?"
offering assurance that parents and family members will be able to manage crisis
encouraging sharing news of diagnosis with friends, and classmates
arranging for visits of friends
reassuring that diabetes is not contagious
offering assurance that nothing they did or said caused the diabetes
providing detailed information on diagnosis and treatment plan
answering all questions honestly
encouraging expression of feelings
arranging for management of daily life at home
providing assurance that family will be able to handle crisis
informing teachers and coaches of family situation
encouraging usual involvement in school and other activities

Diabetes in the Family - Talking to Kids about Diabetes
Few things impact a family more than a diagnosis of diabetes. Every member of the family and every aspect of your life will be affected such as relationships, money, time and energy. Parents diagnosed with diabetes must not only face their own fears and uncertainty, they must also help their children cope with this life-altering reality.
Communication is key throughout the diabetes journey. Understanding children’s developmental stages can help parents understand the way their child views illness. You should also take into account the individual child’s temperament. It is important to remember that children are more resilient than you might anticipate.

Yet it is important to tell your children about your situation. You can say something like, “diabetes is a serious, but treatable disease.” As far as treatment, children should be told that the doctors are working to make you better. They should also know what will happen in the next few days or weeks and also about how long treatment will take.

Do I talk about the possibility of my dying?
You may be worried about dying and so might your children. In general, if your physician is optimistic about your chances for recovery, you do not need to tell your children you could die. Be honest and encourage your children to share their fears and worries with you. Your children may ask you if you could die. Carefully consider your response. Balance honesty with the emotional impact of such news and leave the door open for future questions. Take into account the child’s developmental age and understanding of time when answering this question.

What if they ask questions I have already answered?
Asking the same question repeatedly is normal for children. Absorbing the reality of a diabetes diagnosis is difficult for everyone. Forgetting information is common for both children and adults in times of great stress. Do not feel like a failure if it seems your children do not understand your explanations. By answering your children’s questions over and over again, you are helping to ease their worries. Sometimes children may test you to see if your answers stay the same. Try a different approach to answer your child’s questions each time they ask.

Should I tell others about my diabetes? Teachers? Friends?
People vary in the length of time it takes to feel comfortable talking about diabetes. It can be a strain for children to feel as if they need to keep your diabetes secret. Chances are the news will leak out anyway. Consider who the important people in your child’s life are. Often it is their teachers, coaches, scout leaders, music instructors and the parent’s of their friends. Sharing the news with these people allows them to interact with your children in helpful ways. It will help teachers make sense of any behavior changes. 

The Old Sailor,


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