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September 13, 2003

Behavior

Question from Houston, Texas, USA:

I feel a little strange asking this question, but here goes. Since my son was diagnosed (about four months ago), I have had a very hard time with my emotions about his diagnosis. We have dealt with the disease very aggressively, and his blood sugars (for the most part) are under control. He will soon be on an insulin pump which we hope to give him even better control. He only has some problems with lows when he is active, but we're working on that. I am very strong around him, however, when I am alone, I break down and cry a lot. Especially, when I see him hit a low, or in pain from the injections. I also have a hard time when I read all of the complications of diabetes. I feel very sad that he can not just be a "normal kid" anymore. I really don't think I'm feeling "sorry" for myself, I think I'm just so sad for him. Is this normal? Do other parents go through this? It's Should I talk to a counselor or give it more time?

Answer:

Your emotional reactions are completely normal. No parent wants their child to have to bear the burden of such an unfair illness like diabetes. If we could, wouldn’t we all take on all of our children’s burdens so that they would not have to deal with them?

Even though your sadness is normal, this does not mean that you have to feel so much pain. You can feel a bit better, feel less sad, and cry less. It might be very helpful to talk with a counselor who has expertise in working with parents of children with chronic illnesses. Most pediatric psychologists specialize in working with children and their parents. Perhaps your son’s diabetes team works with one? If not, talk with them about who they recommend, or ask your child’s pediatrician. Finally, you can contact your local American Diabetes Association to see if they recommend someone to talk to. Sometimes, just having the opportunity to discuss your feelings with a professional can make a world of difference.

JWB