More and more kiwi parents are facing the challenge of raising children with type 1 diabetes.
According to Diabetes Youth New Zealand, the number of kiwi children diagnosed with type 1 diabetes is rising by 10 percent every year.
Hawke’s Bay parent, Michelle Sands, two-year-old son JJ was recently diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.
“Diabetes changes everything, I can’t even walk to the dairy without taking food and drink incase he has a dip in his blood sugar,” Ms Sands said.
Ms Sands relied on PORSE In-Home Childcare for support, needing childcare she could trust to provide individualized care in the early stages of treatment.
“We have been very lucky to have really good people around us, I honestly don’t know what I would have done if JJ wasn’t with PORSE.
“I can’t imagine how he would cope in a centre with lots of children, I wouldn’t trust he was getting the right one-on-one kind of care he needs.”
Through the turmoil PORSE educator Ginny Wigzell provided a much-needed safe and stable environment.
“The one-on-one in-home care he gets is so important. Financially, I need to work so it’s the next best thing to me staying at home with him.”
Mrs Wigzell was also one of the first to notice slight changes in JJ’s behaviour, leading to early detection of the disease.
The only warning sign was an insatiable thirst that developed overnight.
Diabetes New Zealand Chief Executive Steve Crew said it was key for parents to have support when coming to terms with a child being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.
“Living with type 1 diabetes isn’t easy, for the parents or the child. Good diabetes management requires a lot of time and effort, especially in the beginning,” he said.
“It can be a very testing time for all, this is a life-long condition and there is a lot of misinformation out there. Type 1 is unrelated to lifestyle and there needs to be more education around the difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes.”
2,500 children and young people from 0-18 years old are living with the incurable condition.
New Zealand has one of the highest rates of paediatric diabetes in the world, but there is no known cause for the annual increase.
JJ’s condition is controlled with insulin injections at each mealtime.
Mrs Wigzell took time off work to learn about managing diabetes in children at Hawke’s Bay Hospital.
“When Michelle goes to work she needs to have full trust JJ’s in safe hands and with so much information to take in, I felt it was essential to be there.”
Training taught her warning signs to look out for and how to manage highs and lows with food and fruit juice.
“We call checking his blood glucose levels ‘checking his numbers’ and we call the insulin his ‘medicine’,” Mrs Wigzell said.
“If the numbers go too little he knows he needs to have some juice, you can’t just explain this to a two-year-old, so you have to break it down.”
It had been a difficult process for Ms Sands who says there is still a stigma around type 1 diabetes in children.
“With JJ being one of only four children in the care at any one time, being with PORSE means I can be confident he gets the focus and attention needed to monitor his health, but his life carries on pretty much as normal, which is the best possible outcome for both of us.”