Jane Renton is the mother of Neev, our young Type 1 diabetic who raised over £1200 for A4D on a fantastic 20km bike ride. Neev has not let her condition stop her from taking on challenges to help out fellow Type 1s in the world’s poorest countries, and her parents Jane and Ali have supported her all the way. Living with diabetes is an everyday challenge for her family, and it requires education and perseverance for Neev to live a full and active life. At A4D, we look to bring the education and medical supplies to young people in South East Asia, and to give them the same opportunities that Neev has had to fulfill their ambitions.
“Neev was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at 18 months old, which was a complete shock for us; we had no family history of diabetes and had a straightforward birth following a healthy pregnancy. We currently have no family support and as a family unit of three we battened down the hatches, but it put our little family under tremendous strain. After Neev’s diagnosis, I think my husband Ali and I experienced the 5 stages of grief – DENIAL, ANGER, BARGAINING, DEPRESSION, AND ACCEPTANCE. I particularly remember feeling guilty. Was it all the hairdo sweets I’d craved for and eaten when I was pregnant? I also remember feeling very frightened, as being a nurse I’d only ever met people with Type 1 diabetes with horrible complications. Finally, I remember feeling a sense of overwhelming sadness. These feelings still pop up from time to time when having a difficult period, but I am happy to say that the negative emotions occur much less frequently now.
After the initial shock and acceptance, Ali and I vowed to not let diabetes define Neev’s life, and we leant as much about managing the condition as we possibly could. This had been an ongoing process and we are always keen to listen to other people’s experiences, as we quickly learnt that diabetes is not a condition where one fix suits all. In fact, the best way to manage the condition seems to change on a daily basis.
Our philosophy has always been to view diabetes as a condition and not an illness. Neev is a healthy, happy little girl (cheeky and mischievous at times) who loves life and is full of confidence. But although her main aim in life is to have as much fun as she can each day, we have never allowed Neev’s diabetes management to be negotiable. It is something that has to be done with the minimal amount of fuss so that Neev can live her life to the full. Her Dad and I are so proud of her, but we don’t treat her special because of her diabetes. We treat her special because of her achievements, be that getting ready for school on her own, riding her bike for the first time, getting her spellings right or for having a lovely kind and thoughtful personality. In fact, in our home we celebrate Neev and her younger sister’s achievement each day!
In this way, diabetes has not been all bad for our family. We tend to worry less about the ‘trivial’ things, which has freed us to be able to do more things. We do have periods of sadness and frustration when we can’t achieve good blood sugar readings despite all the effort we put in, but talking to other people with diabetes helps us vent our frustrations. It also helps us remember that Ali and I only have this for a short period when we have to look after Neev – she has diabetes for the rest of her life, and so it is important we are positive and hopefully this will influence Neev.
All we can say as parents is this: learn as much as you can about managing the condition and seek support from the people you find helpful. Also, try and get other family members to learn. This way the family can be a united force, and you as parents can get a break and give your little ones the independence they need.”