The biggest fear haunting Liza Saha, mother of 6-year-old Anindita, is if her child has eaten from someone else’s tiffin in school. Unlike other children, Anindita does not have the luxury of eating what she likes as she suffers from type- I diabetes, previously known as juvenile diabetes, a form of insulin-dependent diabetes found in children. “I have told her she cannot eat someone else’s tiffin, but occasionally she does that. Beyond a point, I cannot do anything while she is at school. It worries me so much,” says Saha.
Mothers worry when their children are away at school. “Every minute that Rahul is at play school, all I can think about is if he is okay. I have taught him that if he feels dizzy, he should ask his teacher for a biscuit or a chocolate. I am always afraid of him fainting. But how much can I control from home?,” says Angana Saikia, his mother.
It is commonly said that the younger the child, the easier it is for him to get accustomed to the treatment and constant monitoring. However, Saikia says as the child is too young to understand what is wrong, he often tends to get distant from the parent who is providing the medication. “For three months, my son hated me. He used to run to his grandmother when he saw me approaching him. Now, thankfully, he understands his situation better,” she added.
Liza also said that getting used to seeing your child being deprived of what every other child is eating is painful. “Honestly, I even have had suicidal thoughts in the past as I could not see my child suffering. I used to cry all the time. But I knew I had to be strong for my daughter,” says Saha.
Saikia’s next big concern is about Rahul starting regular school. “I want to send him to a school in south Delhi. We live in west Delhi, and I know he will be away from home for more hours than he is now. I’m concerned how it will work. I don’t want him to hide anything from me if he eats something wrong,” she said. According to the experts, the best way to go about is to train your child in self care.
“Involve school. Develop a management plan with the school; don’t hide information,” says Dr Ambrish Mithal, chairman of endocrinology and diabetes at Medanta — The Medicity. Schools these days have a sensitised staff that understands the needs of individual children. “I told Anindita’s teacher to encourage her to bring healthy food. So one day, the teacher made the class applaud for her because she always has healthy food in her tiffin. She was so happy when she came home,” says Saha.
Parents of diabetic children also have WhatsApp groups these days, where they discuss issues related to the disease and support each other.
Anindita’s mother said the parents of adolescent children always talk about how their children sometimes just refuse to check their sugar, because they have eaten something outside.
“My daughter is in my control now, but as she grows up, it is going to get difficult, which is why I think these support groups are a big help” she said.
(All names changed)