Not enough people really understand what type 1 diabetes is

Katie Bailey’s two children, Lola, 7 and George, 4, were recently diagnosed with type 1 diabetes within six months of each other.

Here she speaks about how the myths that exist around the condition have made her children’s diagnoses even harder:

“Last November my gorgeous three-year-old boy was suddenly diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.

Less than five months later his awesome seven-year-old big sister was also diagnosed.

With no history of type 1 diabetes in either side of our family, this has come as a huge shock and completely turned our world upside down.

Heart-breaking

I can honestly say it’s been the hardest and most heart-breaking six months of our entire lives.

I think of little else at the moment and my heart breaks a little more for them at each new challenge they have to face and will have to face for the rest of their lives.

And one of the hardest parts is that not enough people really understand what type 1 diabetes is and what we are actually going through as a family.

I get it, if you’d asked me six months ago I wouldn’t have had much of a clue either.

It is so hard to convey to people the seriousness of the condition when, on the face of it, they look so happy and healthy. (They are, it just takes a lot of work to keep them that way!)

People often don’t realise you need insulin to survive, so someone with type 1 relies on multiple daily injections or pump infusions every day. There are no breaks (not even when asleep), no holidays, no day off for Christmas. It’s every day, for life.

And people assume my children can’t eat what their friends are eating.  They can do everything their friends do – it just needs a lot more thought, planning and knowledge.

Hard work

Yes they are well and happy, despite all the medical elements that their lives now involve.

They can still go to school, do activities, go on playdates and do things other children do – but they need a trained adult to be on hand to help them at all times.

It also requires 24/7 management and a LOT of hard work to keep them this way. Everything they eat or do requires some thought as to how it will affect their blood glucose and what steps need to be taken to allow them to do that thing that other children and parents simply take for granted.

But I know there are lots of amazing people with type 1 diabetes who have achieved incredible things. And so we won’t let this condition stand in the way of our family’s hopes and dreams either.”

For Diabetes Week 2019, JDRF is encouraging people connected with type 1 diabetes to share its mythbusting quiz with friends and family, and help dispel the myths and misunderstandings that exist about the condition.