Type 1 diabetes, is it lurking around the corner?


When it comes to dealing with life’s calamities I choose to cross that bridge if and when we have to, not a moment before. I refuse to waste any of my time or precious energy worrying about something that may never happen. However there is one thing that keeps me up at night. The very thought of it happening chills me to the core. What if my children are diagnosed with type 1 diabetes?

“A baby has a 1% risk of developing diabetes if the baby is born to a mother who is age 25 or older and had type 1 diabetes. A baby born to parents who do not have diabetes has a 0.3% risk of developing the disease.” (www.sharecare.com) I know I shouldn’t let the fear of a type 1 diagnosis affect me but I wouldn’t wish this incurable auto‑immune condition on my worst enemy, let alone my beautiful children. Am I being irrational when every request for an extra drink of water or late night visit to the toilet I think, Is this it? Are their little immune systems getting ready to attack?

Miss 6 likes to test her own blood sugar levels (I suppose this is to be expected when you have a Type 1 mama). Recently she proudly announced “I just tested my blood sugars and I’m 9.8. (176 mg/dL)” What? Keep calm. Breathe. My heart was racing. A non-diabetics blood sugar level normally falls between 4.0 mmol/L (72 mg/dL) and 7.8 mmol/L (140 mg/dL). Sounding slightly hysterical I asked her to wash her hands and check again. Check again! I begin mentally rescheduling our afternoon plans, organising a babysitter and sorting the logistics of a hospital stay while we all get to grips with another type 1 diagnosis.

Miss 6 returns moments later and checks her blood sugars again… 5.6 mmol/L (101 mg/dL). She must have had something on her fingers that caused the previous high result. What a relief! My heart rate slows but the fear remains.

Just when I needed a little help to let this go I discovered the latest Diabetes doing things podcast with Dana Howe. Dana is the social media manager for Beyond Type 1 and third generation type 1 diabetic, her dad and granddad also have type 1. She has grown up surrounded by type 1 diabetes. Her parents knew what to look for and acted quickly when Dana started to show signs of type 1 diabetes, avoiding Diabetes Ketoacidosis (DKA). “DKA is a dangerous complication faced by people with diabetes which happens when the body starts running out of insulin.” (www.diabetes.co.uk)

Dana has had an incredible support team from the very beginning. Being a third generation diabetic meant she had extremely knowledgeable and passionate advocates by her side at all of her medical appointments (her parents).

Perhaps I was looking at this all wrong? Every type 1 diagnosis is unfair, terrifying, life changing and stressful, but my goodness if any of my children have to carry this burden they would have the strongest support team imaginable. Their parents, grandparents, aunties and uncles would call on the past 18 years of living with or supporting someone with type 1 to ensure they continue to live a full and long life. If it gets tough I will do what I always do and reach out to the strong, brave and ever-supportive type 1 diabetic community. You think a type 1 diabetic is tough, wait until you meet a parent or caregiver of a type 1. They are incredible, always willing to share the highs and the lows, the struggles and the wins, no matter how small.

We still don’t know what causes type 1 diabetes which means there is nothing we can do to prevent it. It simply is, what it is.

With that in mind I will breathe and carry on. Life is busy, mad, chaotic, fun and interesting, just as it is. I must kick the fear of a type 1 diagnosis to the kerb and enjoy every precious moment. Even though I will watch for the symptoms of type 1 diabetes like a hawk, I choose to cross the type 1 diagnosis bridge if we come to it and only then!

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