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The Challenge of Childhood Diabetes

June 2008 -
The Challenge of Childhood Diabetes Newsletter

Improving Family Life

It's not easy to slow down and take a close look at what our children need. With computers, cell phones, blackberries, television and iPods, parents never get encouragement to turn it all off, take some deep breaths, and think about what truly matters. My son's diagnosis of juvenile diabetes did that for our family. Three days in the hospital brought our lives to a temporary standstill, and we looked at each other with shocked but clearer eyes. Our priorities changed, and along with wanting to keep Danny alive and safe, we knew we needed to band together as a family.

Over the first year, we simplified our life as much as possible. Danny's blood sugars were ranging from 40 - 400 mg/dl and he had headaches and stomachaches. His misery forced us to pay attention, and in response, my husband and I cut out our evening meetings and made sure the television was off. We improved our diet, increased our exercise, and spent a lot more time together as a family. After work and school, we were busy with meal preparation, playing games outside, and homework. By the end of the year, even with the diabetes diagnosis, our family was in better shape emotionally and physically than we had been before.

If you are looking for a nudge to slow down and take stock, to play with your children more and worry less, perhaps this newsletter can be that motivation.

In the Resources section, I am including two articles that offer practical tips for improving family life with diabetes, especially in the areas of nutrition and exercise. Under Supporting Each Other, you will find support for family dinners and reducing children's television and computer use.

My very best to you,

Laura Plunkett

Supporting Each Other

Family dinners are a great way to make sure you are eating well, learning about each other's day, and spotting issues that need attention. Time Magazine offers a strong argument for bringing back this dying tradition and uses the multi-year study by National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University to bolster their argument. It requires limiting activities and prioritizing time together, but it can be done, and the benefits are well worth the effort.

Despite their protests, children are healthier and have a greater sense of well-being if they watch less television. When you need motivation to turn the television off, look at this article on "Children and Watching TV" by the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. In addition, Beth Lane offers some helpful tips for limiting TV viewing in her article "How to Turn Off the Television and Spend More Family Time."

Share Your Tips

Our next newsletter will focus on the art of grandparenting a child with diabetes. If you have a story to share about a grandparent in your child's life, I’d love to hear from you at newsletter@challengeofdiabetes.com.

June 2008

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Take a look at "How We Learned to Stop Procrastinating and Love Exercise" , published this month in Diabetes Health magazine, which offers many tips such as "How to convince your family" and "Turning exercise into a game" so that everyone WANTS to move rather than seeing it as a punishment.

"Creating a Family Culture of Healthy Eating: One Step at a Time" is a similar article on nutrition. These tips such as "Clear reasons for making the changes" and "Enjoying the results" help families take steps to improve their health and well-being while also improving blood sugar control.

In addition, there are Archived Newsletters on improving nutrition, going to the emergency room, getting a good night's sleep, helping siblings adjust after diagnosis, and being comfortably alert.

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