Type 1 Diabetes is a physical condition and the clinical symptoms are well documented. However, the impact is not always measurable: Type 1 can take an emotional and psychological toll as well.
Teaching children with Type 1 how to count carbs and measure their blood sugar levels is crucial, but at Action4Diabetics we have seen the importance of offering emotional support as well.
A Space for Dialogue
At A4D Diabetes Family Camps, we put on a wide range of activities for the young people on our Clinic Support Programmes. One activity is called ‘Children Dialogue’. It is an opportunity for people to open up and talk about how Type 1 Diabetes makes them feel, not just physically, but emotionally day-to-day.
One of the young girls we support wrote down five points about how she was feeling at a recent camp in Mandalay. Her parents gave us permission to share as they agreed it would help raise awareness for this often overlooked complication of Type 1 Diabetes.
- My friends put a blame on me for being a patient.
- I want to eat food like the others.
- I test my blood and sugar levels at least twice a day, I was desperate because of the disease but now I am fine.
- When I found out I was a Diabetic patient I was sad.
- But now I am good. More than good! I am super-duper good 🙂
And this young girl was not alone. During the Children Dialogue sessions, we get similar feedback to this from most of the children. Often, the children express a desire to simply not have the condition, and also a sense of alienation. Their willingness to share these feelings has shown to us it is necessary to provide them with the opportunity to do so. As you can see from this example, encouraging people to be more mindful also encourages them to have a positive mindset.
A New Type of Care
At our recent Type 1 Diabetes Focus Meeting held at Siriraj Diabetes Center, Assoc. Prof. Supawadee Likitmaskul highlighted the importance of a holistic approach to managing Type 1. This is not to say that the condition does not require a rigorous management approach. It means that the responsibility of Health Care professionals goes beyond prescribing the correct Insulin and Blood Testing Equipment. One of the suggestions the Professor Supawadee raised, was to individualise treatment according to the psychological needs of the patient. This is because often patients can feel isolated in their rural communities.
At Action4Diabetics we want the children we support to be happy and healthy. Through our work at Diabetes Family Camps, it is clear there is a need to provide emotional support to the children and families. They are often left in a situation of despair when they discover they have an incurable condition. We have events that help to create a Type 1 community and space for people to talk. By doing this we create the support network that children need to overcome the emotional challenge of Type 1. It is all part of our mission to save and transform the lives of disadvantaged young people in South-East Asia.
A big thanks to all our volunteers who joined us for the camp in Mandalay, and our partners at Siriraj Hospital!
None of the work we do is possible without your support. Our next fundraising event is the True Grit Challenge in the Peak District, UK. Click here to find out more.