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Overcoming Hurdles of Diabetes with Family Involvement

January 7, 2013

melons and fruits

Our entire family is making more conscious and beneficial food decisions.

Michelle Griffin

A mom whose son has type-1 diabetes

Michelle Griffin was in shock when she found out her 12-year-old son, Cameron, had type-1 diabetes.

“I thought he had the flu,” she says. “I didn’t even know what questions to ask the doctor, but he reassured me that Cameron would be fine.”

Griffin explained diabetes to Cameron by using a book for children about the disease. She says doctors and nurses were also a great resource.

Still, many parents face challenges with having a child with diabetes.

One day when she sat down with Cameron to check his blood sugar during breakfast, he looked at her and said, “I just want to eat my breakfast.” She realized he can never eat a meal without going through this ritual.

Even though diabetes has its hurdles, the whole family ends up becoming involved.

“As a result of Cameron’s diagnosis, our entire family is making more conscious and beneficial food decisions,” Griffin says. “We eat a lot less bread and rice, have changed to whole grain pasta and make dinner a meat or fish and vegetable combo.”

In addition, Griffin says that Cameron’s school district has been helpful. Cameron’s 504 plan, which documents how the school will accommodate him, allows him to leave the room to test his blood sugar.

“He’ll tell me anything that isn’t right and I’ll go to the teacher or administrator and make it right,” Griffin says. “When they run a mile at school, it’s great to know in advance because he’ll need less insulin.”

Griffin says diabetes doesn’t have to define who a person is. Cameron plays soccer and basketball, and does almost everything he would do if he didn’t have diabetes, she adds.

Jim Stone, whose 13-year-old son Andrew has type-1 diabetes, echoes the same sentiments.

“Diabetes does not limit what your child can accomplish,” Stone says. “You have a responsibility to educate yourself.”

The family has been part of support groups in the community as well as active in Diabetes in California Schools.

“Connect yourself and your child to others with diabetes,” Stone advises.

Support groups help empower children to manage their diabetes, according to Kathleen Fraser, a diabetes educator at the University of California, San Francisco.

“You can’t do it alone,” Fraser says.“It’s a challenging condition, [but] there are a lot of resources out there.”

Originally written by Angela Generoso.