Diabetes by nature is a complicated condition, you get to realise that very quickly. You can be plodding along, everything within range, and then CRASH....a growth spurt, BANG.....a cold, WALLOP....a hot day, and the levels are all over the place. Actually the doesn't even need to be a reason for it all to go wrong, sometimes it just happens because unfortunately that's just how diabetes works. We are told very early on to try our best to keep levels within range because the longer we have 'good' control the chances of complications occurring are reduced.
Complications....there's a word....there's lots of them. You have the short term ones, the most common hypoglycaemia, this is blood glucose levels of below 4.0, this level is too low to provide enough energy for the body to work. DKA...diabetic ketoacidosis this occurs due to constant high levels. If that wasn't bad enough in comes the scary long term complications. Diabetics have an up to fivefold increased risk of developing CVD (cardio vascular disease) this includes heart disease, stroke and all other diseases of the heart and circulation. Diabetic retinopathy...damage to the 'seeing' part of the back of the eye. This is the most common cause of blindness among working age people in the UK. Kidney disease is very common in people who have had diabetes for over 20 years.
Then comes neuropathy....nerve damage. This can be split into three separate types:
SENSORY these are the nerves that carry messages from the skin, bones and muscles to the brain.
AUTONOMIC these are the nerves that control involuntary activities of the body, the stomach, intestine, bladder etc.
MOTOR these are the nerves that transmit signals to the muscles enabling them to carry out movements like walking and moving the hands.
Lastly there is the thought that diabetes reduces life expectancy by 15 years, and every parents worst nightmare...dead in bed syndrome...and yes it is exactly what it says, they go to bed and don't wake up.
As a parent it is my job to worry about all of the above, but our children need to be aware of the complications, and realise how important it is to try and control levels, but when is the right time to make Samuel aware. He is 6, he doesn't need to know at the moment, but he will. The question is when do I tell him, and how much do I tell him?
I don't know the answer to that now, but I am sure when the time comes I will.