18 answers

4 Year Old with Diabetes

My grandson has just been diagnosed with diabetes, like last night in the hospital. He had been tons of fluids, peeing it all out, didn't want to eat. Parents brought him in thinking that maybe he was coming down with the flu. That would have been easier to handle! Anyway, what can we expect from this diagnosis, how do you handle the injections, blood sticks for testing,good foods/bad foods and all the other necessary things that go along with this disorder? He has an older brother and younger brother and sister. How does diabetes fit in with them as well? Any and all suggestions would be welcome.

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

I don't want to waste a moment in thanking you all for responding to my concern. I sat here crying at the outpouring of care that flew across the internet! Thanks to each of you have responded, I am going to be very busy reading books, labels and articles, as well as getting wiser in the nutrition department. Hey, this might even help me get on track as well to eating better. I am fortunate that my diet hasn't done me in! Many many thanks.

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I am a 30 yr. old mom who was diagnosed with diabetes when I was 2. Something I remember my mom doing for me was giving me a "special" toy to hold whenever I had to get an insulin shot. She kept small toys in the kitchen cupboard and I only got to hold them when I got my shot. It helped with keeping me calm. Don't worry, it will be ok. I've been living with this for 28 years and I've never had any problems.

I wanted to let you know, for the younger siblings, the parents may want to discontinue vaccinations. A number of the childhood vaccines have juvenile onset diabetes as a side effect, which this family may be genetically prone to. Just a thought...

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I just read your post today. I also have a 4 year old son with diabetes. He was diagnosed in April. At first I can honesly say that I didn't know how I was going to handle it. I suspected that he in fact had diabetes because he had the main symptoms frequent thirst and urination. I asked for labs to be ordered and a few hours later we were at Children's hospital. I can tell you that he has adjusted SOOO well and diabetes is no big deal to him or to us anymore. I never thought I would get to a point where I knew what I was doing but I feel so qualified at this point. My son knows his limits and always asks before eating. He is fine with the injections and the finger checks. He knows it has to be done and that is that, yes sometimes he doesn't want the shot but we say if you want to eat you need to get a shot.

Foods to buy that are a staple in my house are fiber one products (bars, crackers, bread) which contain lots of fiber. Kool aid jammers 10 LOVE THESE they are juices boxes with only 2 carbs! We buy the snack size pretzel and crackers or cheese and crackers.
Smuckers sugar free jelly is pretty good! Hood calorie countain chocolate milk with only 5 carbs per serving!!! Sugar free jello (already made kind) it great when he is still "hungry" but not time to eat eat. He has lots of those and cheese sticks.
When my son wants something that has a lot of carbs I tell him to wait until dinner, that way I can give a little extra insulin OR just work it into his meal plan which is more difficult to do with his snacks.
I don't keep a lot of junk in the house which helps because he isn't tempted. I pretty much let him eat what he wants as long as I count the carbs and fit it into his meal plan. I don't think he feels slighted or left out. I try to educate him on why he can't have certain foods at certain times but we also have an attitude that diabetes is no big deal just roll with the flow. Believe me it took me since April to get where I am at but in time all of you will too. Everyone said that it will all fall into place and I didn't believe it but it is true. Not sure if you will get this message today but Ray Allan from the celtics is on channel 5 tonight at 11:00 to talk about his young son with diabetes who was diagnosed this year.
Good luck with everything and if you ever have any questions don't hesitate to ask me I will even give you my email which is ____@____.com.

1 mom found this helpful

I am a 30 yr. old mom who was diagnosed with diabetes when I was 2. Something I remember my mom doing for me was giving me a "special" toy to hold whenever I had to get an insulin shot. She kept small toys in the kitchen cupboard and I only got to hold them when I got my shot. It helped with keeping me calm. Don't worry, it will be ok. I've been living with this for 28 years and I've never had any problems.

I wanted to let you know, for the younger siblings, the parents may want to discontinue vaccinations. A number of the childhood vaccines have juvenile onset diabetes as a side effect, which this family may be genetically prone to. Just a thought...

I'm sure there are differences between type 1 + 2, but many similarities too.
A couple of good books is "The Sugar Solution" (Sari Harrar) and any type of cook book with "Glycemic Index Cooking".

GI levels (Glycemic Index) play a big role in one's diet. The lower the level the better. 55 or below is considered low, 55 - 70 medium and over 70 is high. These foods should be avoided. There are many foods that change their GI count just by cooking them differently. The internet is a great source of info on this.

Fiber is number one for diabetics. When fiber is digested, it turns to a gel like state and captures the sugars inside, thus not allowing the sugar to be absorbed into the blood stream.

After I switched to a low GI diet, I have had incredible sugar counts.

Here are just a few to get you started.

Low - peaches, dried apricots
High - watermelon, soda crackers. avoid these like the plague.
pasta cooked eldente is good, over cooked is really bad.
Try to avoid white flour, white bread, Whole wheat does make a difference.

I'm sure you get the idea.
Just take it one day at a time.
I can't offer any solutions for needles as I don't use them.
But education is number one. Read as much as you can.
Planning menus ahead is always good. Having good snacks ready. Don't forget there are sugar free treats out there as well.

Be watchful of the labels.
You must look at the total carb count on a label, not just the sugar count. There are many hidden sugars not listed on the label. sugar alcohol is one, sometimes it is listed. Just don't rely on the sugar mgs alone.

I hope this is helpful to you. Feel free to email me if you have any questions.

I have diabetes, and it fits well with a family. It will be hard at first for everyoe, but after getting used to the diet it will be better for everyone. Now that I am diabetic we all eat healthier, and excer. more. Show your grandson on a doll how he will have his blood drawn, etc. Have him "help" set up and clean up too. that will keep him calm. hope this helps.

Admittedly, it is a lot easier, from what I've seen, when they are diagnosed early. I am not sure how my aunt handled it with her son when he was diagnosed as he was diagnosed very young (I believe it was shortly after birth but am not 100% sure). As for what it means for the other children, it really depends on how mom wants to do it. My aunt went out and bought a diabetic cook book and made her own cakes and cookies that all the kids could enjoy. It also had a few of her favorite recipies in there that she could change one thing out for another and it be safer for her diabetic son. My mom, on the other hand, had 1 child diagnosed diabetic in adulthood and 1 diagnosed pre-diabetic in adulthood. She will make cakes and brownies but has learned a few recipies to make stuff safe for both of us. Regardless, she does try to enforce moderation of the sweets and with one of us it works far better than the other. As for how to handle it, he's 4 so has a little bit of understanding of the world around him. I would say talk to him while mom or a care taker does the blood tests for a few weeks and the injections. Mainly I would say stuff like, I know it hurts but we need to do this so you don't get sick like that again. Then slowly let him do at least part of it for himself (depending on mom's comfort level). After all, I am not sure what the school rules are on insulin in school. I know the schools used to give my mom a lot of hassles over me carrying my own epi-pen for bee allergies because she couldn't afford 2 of them (they wanted 1 left in the nurses office rather than me carrying it). Given time, he will understand that if he feels a certain way then he should go to the nurses office to at least test his blood sugar. I am pre-diabetic and have been able to tell when my blood sugar is too low or too high. She may have to pack lunches for him with a special snack just incase his blood sugar gets too low and another incase it's a bit too high. Orange juice is a great booster if it's too low though I don't recommend it if his blood sugar is normal or high as it will make it higher. I'm not sure what to do to bring it down if it's too high. I usually just give it time and make sure to be active. It is certainly something I would discuss with the doctor. That's about all I know. Though I am sure that my brother and I have a different type of diabetes than your grandson. I think it's type 2 if you get it when you're older and type 1 if you get it when you're younger but I am not 100% positive on that one. Good luck and I hope this helps.

Hi R.,
What a wonderful grandma you are for trying to help your grandson. I am sorry to hear about his diagnosis. My son was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of 5. He is now 9 years and wears an insulin pump. 99% of the time, most people do not even know that he has diabetes because he is a very active, typical boy who loves sports.

When my son was first diagnosed, it took us some time to get adjusted to counting the carbs for every thing he eats,constantly checking his blood sugar levels while trying to guess how his activity level will balance with the insulin and food. There are days when managing diabetes can be very frustrating but my son call still do everything any other 9 year can do as long as we plan for it.

There are a lot of wonderful sources that will help you and his parents understand what is involved in managing this disease. Some internet sites include www.childrenwithdiabetes.com; and www.jdrf.org. The JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation) offers a bag of hope program that will send a volunteer to your grandson's house with a bag of goodies which includes a stuffed animal with injection sites. The volunteer lives in the area and generally has a child diagnosed around the same age. JDRF also holds parent's coffees to discuss various issues.
The Barton Center located in Oxford, Mass runs some wonderful family programs throughout the year. It also offers a caregivers weekend where you can go and learn how to care for your grandson. http://bartoncenter.org

I just realized I didn't answer your questions specifically--
How did we handle injections and blood sugar checks-They were very difficult at first. A 4 year can't understand what is happening. Injections and blood sugar check hurt. We used lots of bribes and praise. My son still hates needles but with the pump he only has to see a shot every 2 days when he changes his pump site. In time, the blood sugar pricks will hurt less as his little fingers toughen up. Again, we used lots of praise and some bribes.
Food-Everything in moderation. I would suggest you look at the childrenwithdiabetes website. Food is a huge issue at first because you have to relearn and read all the labels but in time, carb counting becomes second nature.
Siblings-They probably don't understand what is happening. Diabetes effects the whole family. Get them involved in helping with his care. My other son who does not have diabetes only gets what my son with diabetes gets when it comes to sweets, etc.

If you have any questions, please feel free to email me at ____@____.com


Hi R.,
I don't know where your grandson is located, but if it is at all possible, I'd recommend him to be seen at the Joslin Diabetes Clinic in Boston (or maybe a satelite office - there's one in Needham.) They are wonderful and they know their stuff! There are many new blood sugar testing devices that allow for alternate testing sites instead of sensitive finger tips. Also, there are insulin pumps that can work very well with children, although I don't know how old you have to be to get one. These pumps are programmable and deliver insulin through a tiny tube that is attached to the abdomen by a tiny catheter. (By his age at diagnosis, I'm assuming he is Type 1 - insulin dependent?) Your best bet as far as educating yourself and your family is to take advantage of all the info. an endocrinologist, diabetes nurse educator, and dietician have to offer. Although diabetes requires a lot of monitoring and changes in lifestyle, your grandson is young and with some practice, it will become a way of life for him in no time. He's fortunate to have such a concerned Grandma! Good luck!

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