When adult individuals require a huge amount of guidance in diabetes management, the responsibility of managing a diabetic child (with Type I diabetes) falls on an entire family and even other sections of society the child will engage with every day, such as people at school and in the neighbourhood.
There is plenty of information on diabetes management on the internet, in medical journals and in other forms of media. And, there are many diabetologists to orient us to proper management. But, the experience of a diabetic for 50 years can by itself provide some guidance.
Fifty-four-year-old S.R.V. Prasanna learnt to live with the disorder early by making those sacrifices or adjustments that most diabetics find difficult to make.
“I was first diagnosed as diabetic at the age of three. My grandfather and father were doctors. Their knowledge of all aspects of the disorder helped the rest of the family cope with my problem,” he recalls.
Diabetologist V. Rajendran says parents have to keep a close watch on infants or young children who are diabetic. “They can go into severe hypoglycaemia and as they cannot read the signs in time to avoid disaster. This puts immense stress on the parents and they, in turn, will have to go in for stress reduction measures,” he says.
Mr. Prasanna agrees that the medical background he had at home will not be available to most young diabetics, leave alone the Type I cases such as he. And, that can make the difference in management.
“I also took sweets on the one hand while in school and even slipped into hypoglycaemia on the other. I used to play football and turned hungry quickly and slipped into hypoglycaemia,” he narrates. Another instance was while in college and the next time was when he tried to beat the hunger till he returned home after strenuous work as a medical representative. It never happened again.
“Safe and timely food and exercise have stood me in good stead. This is the best prescription for all diabetics.”
Understanding what diabetes can do is vital to its management, he points out.
Mr. Prasanna, now a photographer by profession, came to understand the disorder fully when he was 15 years old. From then, he took the time-tested methods of control.
Dr. Rajendran points out that the entire family's attention should be on the diabetic child till it reaches an age where it can understand the disorder, the risks and the safeguards. “Even older non-diabetic siblings should be trained to manage the diabetic one.”
Once past the age of non-understanding, only responsible behaviour can result in good diabetes management, says Mr. Prasanna.
“Apart from the Type I cases, Type II diabetics too can lead a normal life if they succeed in managing the problem. Austerity in diet may not be totally possible. But, if you want to have a piece of sweet, skip rice as compensation during that meal session.
“I have been commended by some organisations for diabetes management. One of them is the Karnataka Institute of Diabetology.”
He was also given awarded a gold medal by the Diabetes Association of India in 1985. Doctors feel his case is not difficult to replicate.
“I want to guide Type I diabetics with my experience,” says Mr. Prasanna.