Managing emotions of new onset

Hi everyone,

My 9yo son was diagnosed almost two months ago and at first he was completely unphased by his diagnosis. He never once complained about any pokes or needles. He told the hospital psychologist he was excited about his life change because it was something new to learn.

I obviously have not been excited but have tried not to show how devastated and overwhelmed I have been although I’m sure he’s caught on at least a little. I’ve tried to make it really positive, and encourage his can-do spirit.

However, since we’ve started giving him a ton of dairy since it’s “free” it’s brought on his old, long cured acid reflux with a vengeance. I think now two months in with this extra complication and the constant battling a low or tummy troubles is starting to wear on him and he seems emotionally dry with us. We’ve had to be stern a few times “you have to eat this/drink this medicine” and I feel like he may be having a hard time with that and the whole drastic change all together.

I’ve asked him how he’s felt about it all or if he’s ever felt sad or frustrated and he insists he hasn’t, but I feel like maybe he doesn’t even realize that he might. Then I’m wondering if I’m hiding my feelings from him maybe he’s hiding his from me and maybe I should be a little more honest. Does anyone have any input or ideas?

Thanks so much and God bless you all!

Hi @odalyscaballero welcome to T1N. How each of us grieve the loss of good health is different in a many respects, but it does tend to take a few months to a few years to show itself. It’s not uncommon for a young man to do the untouchable or Superman thing. I sure did. It can be a long process and as long as he’s doing okay, maintains and cultivated friendships and has interest in things in general then I’d say that’s great. There is no right or wrong way to deal with getting diagnosed, a lot of it depends on his personality. Kids do watch everything you do, more so than listening to everything you say.

A word on “having to eat” stuff. Strict diets dont work. There is nothing off limits and nothing “forbidden “ in terms of diet. It took me a long time to learn how to use insulin but there is no food or treat that I can’t eat. Please get the book “Think Like a Pancreas” it has so much good information. As a growing young man he most certainly does not have to stick to “free” snacks. I hope you have access to a certified diabetes educator, they can be most helpful in giving advice as to how to use insulin for different foods.

Something else to consider. If he is dealing with lows, please check in with his doctor about reducing insulin when it is appropriate do do. I wish you both good luck :four_leaf_clover: and I hope to see you around the forum.


Thanks so much for your words of encouragement, Joe. He’s not having to eat because of a strict diet: it’s that we’ve bolused and he needs to finish his food, or that he needs to take his reflux medicine, or he’s low and he doesn’t like the flavor of glucose tablet I have. Sometimes we made food he liked but he’s decided today that he doesn’t. So it’s kid stuff but it’s more complicated to deal with now that he has diabetes.

Hi! Welcome to the forum, and to the club that no one really wants to be in!
I’m 16, T1D was my 13th birthday present. My emotions were up and down for a year, and still are sometimes, it took time processing all the change and new challenges. The first year is whiplash, like the biggest rollercoaster at an amusement park. It flattens out as you figure things out and are able to process emotions. I can imagine having to deal with upset stomach on top of a new diagnosis would be very tough!
While I’m normally a very verbal processor I was less so with my diagnosis- I felt as if no one else could relate, like my parents couldn’t understand. In a way, you can’t. You as a mom and non T1D (I’m assuming) can’t understand the emotions that come with having to be the pincushion, to deal with this for the rest of your life, and being given extra attention for something you didn’t want. People without diabetes can only imagine what it’s like to be high/low and act normal/polite when all you feel like doing is eating the entire pantry or slapping people.
On the other hand, you are dealing with emotions and feelings that your son can’t understand either. When I was diagnosed I really appreciated that my parents let me be. If I wanted to process with them, they let me. If I wanted to cry alone in my room for an hour, they let me. They didn’t stand for any tantrums or bad behavior (they still don’t) and diabetes is not an excuse- but they aren’t helicopter parents. I needed space to figure it out. Of course, everyone is different and parenting a 9-year old is different than a 13-year old. Your son may need someone to sit with him and help him identify his emotions, or he might not. I wouldn’t recommend being overly honest with him- you need to show him that this life is livable and doable and his life is not over. But you can let him know that you’re also sad- this isn’t how it’s supposed to be. Go ahead and cry with him sometimes- but then pull yourselves up and to borrow Nike’s slogan, JUST DO IT!
It may help your son to get connected to other kids his age with T1D- and it may help you to get connected with other parents. Good for you finding this forum so soon- I didn’t find it until a year or two into this ride. There are also YouTube channels (dale tribe, T1D Lindsey, dailydiabetics, Michelle lord, and plenty more) and blogs ( is my all time fav) of people with T1D chronicling their lives. You can also google famous people with T1D- there are plenty of pro athletes, politicians (former UK PM Theresa May has T1D and so does current Supreme Court justice Sonia sotomayor), actors, and more who have T1D.
Like @joe already mentioned, you should definitely get in touch with a dietitian or CDE to talk about diet stuff. They’re an awesome resource, especially as you’re learning about different foods and how they affect your body. If you’re looking for “free foods” you should do a search on the forum- many other parents have started threads to talk about the ongoing struggles of finding yummy “free” kid snacks. Veggies, nuts, sugar free jello, pickles, deli meat, and a small square or two chocolate are my favs. I remember being ravenous post diagnosis but what’s helped me is to stick to a stricter meal schedule, and to minimize snacking in between. I eat pretty much anything during my meals but otherwise I try not to snack as much in between meals (at 8, 12, 3, and 6/7 o’clock). Another tip- with meals balance your diet. Don’t feed a bunch of carbs and hardly any protein. Feed some carb, but also some proteins and fats that will help the food “stick” and slow down the absorption of sugar into the blood stream so that it doesn’t spike him. That will definitely help if emotions are tied to high blood sugars! (My most dramatic I’m-done-with-you-diabetes moments usually come when I’m high and already short on self control and get emotional)

Keep going! Juggling this circus called T1D doesn’t really get easier, but it gets better.

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Does he like juice or candy? I personally hate glucose tabs (they taste like chalk) but I eat ‘em because I’ve got no choice. Maybe he’ll like smarties better? They’re basically the same thing.

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@odalyscaballero I get it. But you can make up for carbs not eaten (within reason) with an Oreo or an apple or skittles as examples. Sugar is sugar. During a low, glucose isn’t your only choice I prefer smarties, skittles, apple juice, or soda (not diet). Some parents use cake icing, or table sugar dissolved in water. They all work about as fast as glucose. In other words, they all get the job done.

I was diagnosed at 12. My grandfather was type 2 and had managed it my whole life. So I figured it was no big deal. Something I had to learn to take care of, but with the support of a family who knew how, and it cleary wasn’t holding Grandpa back. (The only thing that had me at all worried was seeing Mom cry over the diagnosis. But I told her it was okay.) Kids adapt to changes pretty quickly. It’s part of being a kid. You’re living in a world where you don’t have much control over anything, and learning it as you go. You haven’t set into your habits yet, for the most part. Your body and mind are growing quickly. Everything changes. So it can be easy to roll with it when you’re hit with something life-changing, especially if you have caretakers who can support you through it.

That doesn’t mean it’s not hard or frustrating on a day-to-day basis. But if he says he’s okay with it, he probably is.

I’m confused about dairy being a free. Milk has a lot of sugar, and sometimes fat as well. When I got a CGM, I found that my morning glass of milk was spiking my sugars and keeping them high for hours. I’d just never noticed because by the time my lunchtime BG check came around the sugar had worked its way through and my values were back to normal.

Diabetes is a juggling act. What you eat, what you burn off, what insulin you take in, all the myriad other things that affect your values. Just getting stressed or angry or scared can cause an adrenaline spike, which can affect your BG. Heck, waking up raises my BG 30 points even if I’m just lying quietly in bed. It’s all about feeling your way through all the complexities as best you can, day by day. So… if dairy is causing him gastric issues, maybe you need to find a different option. You don’t want to mess with long-term reflux if you can avoid it, and there are ways to make other foods work. If you find that his eating is unpredictable and he doesn’t always take enough food to meet the bolus, maybe you need to consider doing the bolus after the meal. You’re supposed to take an insulin dose to meet your food, not eat your way up to meeting the insulin dose.

I can tell you this, though. It gets easier. The first year is a steep learning curve, and you’ll probably find yourself sticking to some hard rules until you learn well enough where the slack should be. How to be flexible, and how to adjust to things on the fly. Pump and CGM make that a lot easier than it was when I was a kid.

Trust him. Trust him enough to be honest with him, which will inspire trust in return. But if he says he’s okay, trust him on that. Work together to learn what works best for him. You’ll figure it out.

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I have had T1D for 63+ years. About 5-6 years ago I discovered Cliff BLOKS and use them for treating low blood sugars. They taste great, come in different flavors, have about 8 carbs per blok and are easily carried in a pocket or purse. You might want to give them a try, you can order boxes on-line thru Amazon. Good luck for a healthy journey for you and your son.

Good morning. Welcome to the club no one wanted to join…but here we are.
I have 13 yo son, dx at 9 as well. I have had t1d for 36 years too. That perspective has been super helpful. Personally, I like to use the phrase ‘grace and space’. Between normal kid moods/attitudes and t1d, patience is a big part of my day. As my son has gone through the past few years, we are working on him becoming independent, while being safe. His tslim pump/Dexcom has helped a lot with self management. That can help with some feelings of autonomy.
As for the dairy, I’m confused. What dairy is free? Also, if dairy has caused this level of gi issues, has he been checked for EOE? 2 of my son’s friends have heartburn from dairy and avoid all dairy.
All of this is overwhelming, exhausting and draining. Its ok to have a roller coaster of emotions. I was a wreck after my son was dx…and I have t1d! Life has been amazing…I’ve pretty much done anything I wanted to! The grief is more from the day to day, 24/7 drain.
Keep working with him to do/eat what he wants, learn how to do it well (that takes time), and ask all the questions! This forum is great, there are FB groups for moms, athletes, etc. Im happy to chat too!