Finding Help With Diabetes

  There is Always Hope: Claire Blum

Claire Blum

Over the past 30 plus years of life with diabetes, I have faced many physical and emotional challenges. Some related to diabetes, and some not.  Regardless of their cause, they almost always affect my ability to cope with and mange my diabetes.  Sometimes the problems have been obvious, but more often than not the cause has been difficult to determine. 

There have been times when my Health Care Providers recommended treatment options that did not help, or even made things worse; and times when my problems were chalked off as “non compliance” when indeed I was trying.  I have also worked with some awesome Health Care Providers who helped me explore my treatment options, until I was able find the help I needed and discover what works for me. 

Things I have learned:

It's OK to seek help from different Health Care Providers if you do not feel comfortable with your Doctor or Diabetes Care Team, or if you believe they lack the expertise to help in your area of need.

Although your Diabetes Care Team can help you find answers, you must take responsibility for your own health.

It is important to become an “expert” in the management and care of your own diabetes or pre diabetes. Your Doctor is an important resource, but the help they can give is limited by the quality of information you provide. 

Learn everything you can about your condition and write down your questions and concerns.

Much of the information you hear and read may be inaccurate, so it is important to discuss what you learn with your Diabetes Care Team.

You have to be honest with yourself. Denial gets you nowhere.

There isn't a “Magic Bullet” or a pill that cures everything. Every aspect of life affects the others, and you will suffer if you don’t find balance.

Healing comes when you care for your Body, Mind, and Soul.

The most important answers are found inside your heart. 

Claire's eclectic educational background includes a BS in Family and Consumer Economics, and AS in Nursing. She learned to love of  the great outdoors from her husband Clyde, who took her repelling off Sunset Rock, overlooking the Tennessee Valley, on their first date. She served as a Master Guide Counselor and Director of Pathfinder Youth Groups, and Women's Ministry Leader, prior to pursuing Certification as a Diabetes Educator in 2001. Claire later completed first year studies towards a Masters in Social Work and a Masters in Outdoor Education. There is never a dull moment in her life as she enjoys a challenge and anything new or creative. Her hobbies include photography, entertaining, scrapbooking, stamping, and backyard birding. 


Finding Help When You Are the Caregiver: Kim Lynskey, RN

Kim Lynskey, and Daughters

I am a mother of seven, two of which have diabetes. My daughter, Molly was two years old when diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.  Being a Registered Nurse, I was aware of the symptoms; constant thirst, weight loss, frequent saturizationof diapers, etc… However I maintained the attitude that there was no way our toddler could possibly have diabetes.  As I began to give in to the likelihood of the disease I would bring home lab sticks from the hospital withthe intention of testing her urine but I just couldn’t bring myself to actually test her.  One night she soaked through her diaper and into the bed with urine, so the next day I took her to the pediatrician who admitted her to the hospital immediately. 

From that point forward I would randomly check the rest of the kids as I was constantly concerned that they would have the disease as well.   Seven years later when checking Olivia on the eve of her 4th birthday, we discovered she also had the disease. As a parent, every day . . . every minute . . . is a challenge.  And it’s all too easy to become overwhelmed by it all.  There is no such thing as a break.  Diabetes doesn’t take a holiday.  But neither do so many other aspects of life.  What you have to do is accept it and take the perspective that it is a normal part of life.  There are many parts of your life that you have to manage day to day that also don’t take a holiday; eating, drinking, sleeping…all have to be done everyday without fail.  The best perspective I can suggest is that you include diabetes management in this list.  This perspective gives it the chance to become “normal” routine.   Your child will most likely follow your lead.

Nobody expects their child to have diabetes. It’s an ongoing challenge with good and bad days.  The worst thing you can do is to try and do it alone.  Don’t make that mistake.  Seek help for both you and your child.  Get involved in support groups and with other parents facing the same challenges.  You’ll learn you’re not alone.  Even more importantly, and I can’t emphasis this enough, get your child involved with other kids who have diabetes.  Even if they don’t verbalize it, they’re probably more frustrated and scared than you are, and seeing their peers in the same situation will go a long way in giving them peace of mind.

Kim grew up in Miami Florida, and moved to TN to attend Nursing School at Vanderbilt. She latter moved to Chattanooga, and married her husband Mark. Kim enjoyed her work immensely, as a Nurse in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at ErlangerHospital for 13 years. But, as the needs of her growing family and 2 daughters withdiabetes increased, she took a sabbatical from hospital nursing to become a “full time” nurse and mother at home. Kim enjoys exercising, and takes her children withher to work out at the YMCA, but even more, she enjoys working with kids and animals.


Finding Help When you are Young: Olivia Lynskey

Olivia Lynskey

Hello, my name is Olivia and I was diagnosed with diabetes when I was only four years old, and I am now 14. Diabetes has in fact been a struggle, but it has also been an interesting experience in my life so far. When I was diagnosed I fortunately had an older sister that also had diabetes, and I am very thankful for her. My whole family has always been there through the good and bad times. Such as when I was in the 6th grade and went into DKA. . . which means diabetes ketonesacidosis. When I was in the hospital during this time my mother was there with me day and night for three days, which I was very thankful for. Between that experience and other different situations I have learned that I always need to try to take care of myself or else I will become very sick and my life will be unhappy.

But now some of the good things about having diabetes: One major thing is I have made a ton of friends such as from camp TCDC. That is a camp that only allows children with diabetes, which I love because there I am not singled out and everyone is going through the same disease that I am.  Also, my friends at camp have shown me that diabetes is OK to have and that I am not the only one with it. There are a ton of others that are just like me. This makes me feel a whole lot better about my situation. I also have a ton of friends at school who don’t care that I have diabetes, and my school nurse whom I love to death is very funny and always makes me feel better. Another good thing about diabetes is I have learned that I can’t always eat or drink certain things, which keeps me in better health.   .    .except for the occasional food items that I just can’t live without! I want to make a huge difference, now and in the future.

My biggest wish is that one day they will come up with a cure for diabetes. For that day, if I am still alive to see, out of all the people with diabetes out there, I will in fact be one of the happiest people alive. I will also be that happy because then I will be assured that I don’t have to deal with it anymore and that all the toddlers to the oldest people will not have to live with it either. I have dreamed about this day and I can’t wait until it happens, and I know it will, maybe not even in my lifetime, but I know that day will be reality at some point. 

Olivia plans to attend NotreDame High School, starting in the fall of 2010, and anticipates playing soccer and hopefully tennis. She is an avid animal lover, with a cat named LuLuand a dog named Charlie. Olivia has attended Tennessee Camp for Diabetic Children (TCDC) for the past two years and treasures the friendships she has made in meeting other young people who live with Diabetes. She spends most of her spare time enjoying the company of her younger brother Liam and her five older sisters.

Lack of Support Associated with Poorly Controlled Diabetes 

Lack of emotional or physical support can make it difficult to care for your diabetes, and the following factors are often associated with poorly controlled diabetes:

Family members whose beliefs and expectations about diabetes do not agree with your own
Negative emotions in your home
Conflict caused by critical or hostile interactions with family members
Poor problem solving skills
Poor organizational skills
Inability to resolve conflict 
Low marital satisfaction
Lack of close cohesive relationships   

Feeling overwhelmed and burned out from time to time is to be expected, but if you feel distress or depression over the management of your diabetes it is important to discuss your experience with your Diabetes Care Team.  .  . Many times they are able to help you find solutions that work.   

It is also important to talk about the way you feel with family and friends, and surround yourself with people who are supportive and helpful, rather than those who put you down.

Then do one thing at a time. Make small changes that you can maintain, and then try some more. Allow yourself time to find the things that help you cope best. And remember that your needs will change as your body grows and changes.

Reference: Family Relationships and Diabetes Care During the Adult Years, Lawrence Fisher, PhD

Tool Box

Diabetes Etiquette for People WITHOUT Diabetes: Diabetes Health

Myth Busting: The Oprah Winfrey Show

Diabetes: What to Ask Your Doctor: NIH Medline Plus

Why Patients Have to be Doctors These Day: Cognitive Edge Blog

SPAT: Website Evaluation Tool

Reluctance to Reach Out Boosts Mortality in People with Diabetes: Diabetes Health

DiabetesSisters: Nurture your health. Nourish your spirit®

Insulindependence: inspireducatexplore

SafeSitting: Diabetes Baby Sitting Service

The Other: How Spouses Deal With Diabetes: Diabetes Health