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Have you or your child sought counseling to help you cope with diabetes?

      Yes, we're in counseling now  
  7%   50  
      Yes, and it was helpful  
  11%   79  
      Yes, and it wasn't very helpful  
  7%   54  
      No, but I've considered it  
  34%   231  
      No, I haven't considered it  
  38%   264  

Have you or your child sought counseling to help you cope with diabetes?

Poll dates: March 26 - April 2, 2000
Total Votes: 678

Living with diabetes can be enormously difficult, especially for children and their parents. Teens also face additional challenges as they try to deal with both diabetes and adolescence. For many people, counseling helps. A complete diabetes team includes health care professionals trained to help with the psychosocial aspects of living with diabetes, and they are there to help you and your child.

A reader wrote in:

When I was 13 or so, my sister Jean (who was about 11 at the time) was diagnosed with Type 1. Prior to the diagnosis, my parents had been afraid that Jean might have HIV, due to some transfusions she had needed as an infant. When it turned out to be diabetes, Mom and Dad were so relieved that they felt that this would be easy in comparison. As a result, our family decided not to go with counseling.

My sister's adolescence was difficult. She went to diabetes camp, but hated it. One of her friends at the time of diagnosis spread a rumor around the junior high that Jean had something both fatal and contagious, so she was shunned. (Of course we didn't hear about this problem until much later.) After a while it became evident that my sister wanted to do anything but think about diabetes, and I don't really blame her. It hadn't done her much good to talk about it. So testing was a hassle, "forgetting" to do shots was common, and sneaking candy and slurpees and so forth ended up being a huge problem.

Jean went through several hospitalizations for ketoacidosis as a teen. By this time I was away at college and nobody would tell me how serious this was. She certainly didn't want to talk about it. Finally, in January of 1999, she was found in her college apartment after having lost her fight with diabetes. She was 21.

I truly believe that counseling from early on might have helped my sister to understand that not everyone would ostracize her for her illness, and that diabetes didn't have to be so isolating. It might have helped my parents find a strategy other than arguments and ultimatums to encourage my sister to take care of herself. It might have helped me realize that there was more to her actions than obstinance and desperation for attention. All of which might have helped my sister ask for help when she wasn't feeling well, or test more regularly, or not hate her shots so much. It might not have helped, but at least we wouldn't be wondering now whether it would have.

The people who see your site now have a wonderful advantage. I didn't find your site, or others like it, until I was bereaved and trying to understand what happened. I think Jean would have really liked the opportunity to talk about this stuff with people who couldn't look at her funny or report to her parents, and who wouldn't end every sentence with "...and that's why you should take better care of yourself, or else." I just want to encourage people dealing with diabetes to take every opportunity to help a child along. If it helps, everybody's happy. If it doesn't, at least you know you tried your best.

Donna from California

Donna stressed that her parents tried very hard to stay involved, but that Jean was very independent and didn't want their help.

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Last Updated: Wednesday March 16, 2005 16:36:30
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