Not Agreeing with your Health Plan from your Provider?Elissa Renouf
My pre-teen daughter has Type 1 and is not happy with her health plan. We visited her healthcare provider and were advised to stick with it for another six months. Can you advise, please?
When it comes to diabetes management, I’m a big believer in encouraging people to educate themselves on everything to do with this condition. Your healthcare provider can offer you the proper guidance, education and self-management tools from the outset, which will ultimately help to control your daughter’s BGLs and reduce the risk of high BGLs and severe hypos. However, no-one knows your daughter’s diabetes like you or her. In the end, your healthcare provider’s advice and knowledge is invaluable, but that doesn’t mean you can’t ask about a suitable alternative. While they are very well informed, they can’t always know everything about your daughter and your lifestyle, so never be afraid to speak up.
Diabetes is a lifelong condition. It involves making certain life, treatment and management changes, which is why keeping informed and empowered gives you the ability to be the ultimate judge on what works for your daughter and the whole family. Quality healthcare is a team effort. Asking questions and providing information to your healthcare provider will help improve your daughter’s care, build trust and can lead to better results. While, clearly, we need to accept professional guidance if we are barking up the wrong tree, there is no harm is exploring new therapies or techniques that appeal to you and your daughter, for example, insulin pump therapy or the option of the DAFNE (Dose Adjustment For Normal Eating) program.
Your healthcare provider shouldn’t automatically dismiss your, or your daughter’s, interest in a new therapy, if you can see benefits. It’s sometimes necessary to question whether you’re getting the service you need. Are they up to speed with new developments, or do they believe that the tried and tested path is always the best? If they do dismiss these ideas, ask them to give you solid reasons why. If they can’t, then it’s appropriate to ask them to look into it. Don’t just take no for an absolute answer.
Remember, there are other options and opinions and it is worth taking the time to investigate and listen. It’s okay to politely challenge your daughter’s healthcare provider, or even feel you can source a new specialist if you don’t believe your daughter is getting the support or up-to-date management she needs.
In my household, as you imagine, with five diabetics all with different needs, keeping sane and happy means investing the time to find out what works best for each individual, and taking control!
Elissa Renouf shares five simple ways to help your Type 1 child stay on track.
- Allow your child to make decisions on their foood choices.
Cakes, lollies, soft drinks – they can have them all (within reason), as long as they remember to put in the required insulin to cover that food. I found it best not to baby my sons too much when it came to their diabetes. It was up to them to choose between having extra insulin to cover the treat, or to go without the sweet food.
- Never use diabetes as an excuse.
People with Type 1 can still play sport, attend birthday parties and eat what they want, like everyone else – they just need a little special consideration from time to time. Don’t hold your child back from anything you think they won’t be able to handle, as kids are often a lot smarter than we give them credit for. I have three – nearly four – teenage boys, and sport plays a big part in their lives. They all have insulin pumps and play a range of sports such as football, rugby, tennis and cricket. I have instilled in my kids to never use their diabetes as an excuse for anything. They’re now quite independent and capable of knowing when to test and when to give themselves extra insulin.
- Step in to help where you can.
Constant testing and injecting can be monotonous for your child, and may leave them feeling burnt out or frustrated. You can help by doing simple jobs for them, such as setting up their blood glucose meter so it’s ready to test, or priming their needles. It may not seem like much to you, but this is a huge help to them, making them feel supported.
- Listen to advice that’s beneficial for you.
In my experience, educators and endocrinologists have a wealth of tips and info on managing diabetes, but not all of it will be appropriate for your child. Being familiar with your child’s day-to-day needs will help you know which advice is relevant.
- Stay positive when you help your child.
This will have a lasting effect, not only on your child, but also on your family and the way they look at diabetes for the rest of their lives. You child’s HbA1c result can make you feel as though you’re being judged on how good a parent you’ve been for the past three months – I know it does for me. However, it’s important to understand that, despite constant testing and insulin adjustments, keeping your child’s levels between 4-8mmol/L is often impossible, no matter how hard you try.
A book that helped me stay positive and get through the early years of diabetes diagnosis is The Power of Now, by Eckhart Tolle. It taught me to forget yesterday’s problems, not to worry about tomorrow, and just live in today. Often, you can’t change the situations you’re faced with, but how you handle them can make all the difference.