In this article, I would like to invite you to follow us on our journey of discovery as we learn about Grand-parents and Type 1 Diabetes – what we learned is that through the scary and often confusing world of Type 1 Diabetes it isn’t so bad. With a few adjustments, life can resumes pretty close to as before.
Until our grandson was diagnosed we knew nothing of this disease let alone that a child’s life could literally be turned upside down seemingly overnight.
As the grandparents of a newly diagnosed child, our role naturally depends on how involved we are in the child’s life. For example, do we see him daily, weekly, or only on rare visits because of distance.
In our situation, we see our grandson daily through the week since my wife babysits him after school while his mother is still at work. This new diagnosis has forced us to make some changes in our daily activities with him.
When a child is diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes it is not only his/her life that is forever altered. Every family member that would potentially take care of that child for even a short period of time must learn all aspects of care. Join us as we share our bumpy road of learning to live with this new reality.
A New Diagnosis – Now What?
The day our grandson was diagnosed will forever be etched in our memory. It started as a typical day, We were working out in the yard enjoying the beautiful June weather. Thinking about the fun we would have with our grand-kids when school was out for the summer in a few days. Then the phone rang and our world was forever changed.
It was our daughter calling from the hospital, she was in tears and we tried desperately to understand what she was trying to tell us. Through her tears, she managed to tell us that our grandson was just diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes and had been admitted to the hospital so they could figure out his treatment plan.
We were full of questions and of course, our daughter had no answers yet, it was all too new. She didn’t have time to process any of it yet. It isn’t just going get a prescription and he’ll feel better soon. This was life-altering, forever for all of us.
Our grandson’s stay in hospital ended up being a week, during which his parents had to be there with him almost constantly and even overnight which meant we unexpectedly had his older sisters as house guests for the week.
Other than enjoying the girls we were pretty much out of the loop this week and had no idea if we would even be able to have our grandson on our own again.
To say it was emotional would be a vast understatement. We were left wondering how we can still be a big part of his life which leads us to my next question.
What is a Grand-parents Role?
We had no idea exactly what Type 1 Diabetes was and didn’t know what changes would need to be made in order to have our precious grandson around more. In other words, how does his diagnosis change our role or does it?
What we discovered is that our role doesn’t change much. A grand-parents role is always to be supportive. Supportive of our grandchild but also supportive of his siblings and parents as they are his primary caregivers and will need a break from time to time.
In the first week that meant taking care of the older children, visiting in the hospital, and giving the parents a chance to leave the hospital for a meal or to go home and shower. Simple things really but they were so important.
As time goes on our involvement will change as needed so it is important to understand our next topic.
How To Be Supportive Without Being Overbearing
We naturally want the best for our grandson and it can be hard watching his parents struggle with the endless finger pokes, calculating his carbs, calculating his insulin dosage, and even giving his injections. It is natural to just want to do it for them but they are the star players here. We are their biggest cheerleader and tell them how great they are doing, they need to hear this.
Remember as the parents, they don’t get a break. They are terrified of getting it wrong after all this is their child. They are constantly second-guessing themselves at every moment. Yes, they need us to tell them they are doing great. They need us to provide the occasional meal so they can just focus on their child.
They need us to spend extra time with the other children so they don’t feel neglected as they learn this new normal. It is scary for the other kids as well. We need to help them adapt to watching their sibling go through endless finger pokes and injections.
Then we ultimately need to learn to do the finger pokes, carb counting, dosage calculating, and injection giving so we can take care of our grandson and give his parents and siblings a much-needed break from this new life.
How Do I Care For My Grandchild Now
The first thing I did was go online and learn as much as I could about Type 1 Diabetes. I asked our daughter and son in law tons of questions. I even talked with our local pharmacist who had a wealth of information to share.
Initially, our daughter got us to do a finger poke on ourselves.
This was a great experience for two reasons:
- We were able to experience and understand just what our grandson had to do so frequently.
- We were able to learn how to do it so we would not be using our grandson as a learning tool.
The next step involved having the family over for dinner which is always fun, The purpose this time was to practice carb counting. This took a few tries but my wife has got this down pretty good now.
After a few more family dinners the time came to do the math (calculate his dosage of insulin based on what he ate for supper). Scary stuff but we got through it.
Then we had to give him his shot, with our daughter supervising us of course.
We all have learned so much and now every family dinner we calculate his meal and dosage and give his shot.
As a family, we are learning together to adapt to this new normal and have found it is important to stick together and support each other.
While our journey into the Type 1 world is relatively new (since June) we are adapting quite well. While we haven’t had that coveted sleepover yet we do babysit our grandson weekdays after school while his parents are still at work. We have found lots of little tips, products, and recipes that help make this life easier. I hope we have been able to help other grandparents in some way. Stay tuned as we share more of what we learn as we progress through living with a Type 1 Diabetes child.
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