Jen Bishop, from Middlesex, felt the world drop past her shoulders when her son Callum was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of three. Now 11 years on she talks about why it’s important not to let the condition rule your child’s life.
The Shock of Diagnosis
“I knew something was wrong when he was thirsty all time, wanting water every half an hour. We went to the doctors and Callum was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes,” says Jen.
“It was a complete shock as diabetes doesn’t run in our family. I felt like my whole world was coming down past my ears. I’d heard of diabetes, but didn’t know what it meant or that there were two types.”
Jen had millions of worries going through her mind and felt angry this had happened to Callum for no apparent reason.
“I worried about whether he’d be able to have children or if he’d ever lead a normal life. I also didn’t know how involved I’d have to be – people don’t realise it’s not just a day-to-day thing, it’s an hourly job keeping tabs on it.
“There is that period of anger when you think ‘why us?’, but eventually that passes. I support a charity called JDRF, who help people specifically with Type 1 diabetes – that can be really comforting.”
Practical Items for Teenagers with Type 1
Because Callum was diagnosed fairly early in life, he hasn’t experienced too many health issues. However, there are practical things to think about now he’s a 14-year-old wanting his independence.
“He’s at secondary school now and wants to go out with his friends more. Letting him go out on his own was a huge deal for me,” says Jen.
The mother of one turned to medical ID jewellery to give her peace of mind when Callum is out and about.
“I think medical ID jewellery is especially important when children start to go out on their own. It makes things easier and gives you one less thing to worry about.” Jen chose our Premier Sports Bracelet with Clasp in black as something practical for Callum to wear.
“It doesn’t look too dissimilar to what teenage boys wear on their wrists anyway. He just wants to be a normal teenager and with something like this he can be.”
Vital Information in an Emergency
Callum is now happy to wear his diabetes ID bracelet, but wasn’t too fond of the idea at first.
“At first he would say to me, ‘Mum it’s ok, my friends know I’ve got diabetes’, but I’d tell him that didn’t matter, you need your wristband on in case of an emergency because that’s what paramedics will look for.
“Time is of the essence in those situations and if that little bit of information on a wristband saves his life, then it’s worth having.”
Jen showed Callum the ID bracelet before purchasing to make sure he liked it.
“Getting something he was happy to wear was my main priority and he’s now getting into the habit of putting it on all the time. He never takes it off straight away when he comes home either so that tells me it’s comfortable for him.”
“For teenagers who are a bit self conscious it’s a brilliant wristband that’s inconspicuous as well as stylish.”
Leading a Normal Life
Diabetes hasn’t stopped Callum from doing anything he wants to do. He recently went to Germany on school trip and last year won a competition to become Manchester United School Soccer Captain.
“I’m determined to make sure he can do what he wants to do even if it makes things harder for me,” says Jen.
“I was so proud of him when he was chosen by Gary Neville and Bryan Robson to win the school soccer competition. He got to meet the team, go on a captain’s course and even watched a match in a private box. He now wants to be a sports journalist when he grows up.”
Callum is good at managing his condition himself and always calls Jen if he needs anything.
“He has to keep a close eye on his blood sugars depending on what he’s doing. He carries a lot around with him, which he’s not always happy about and just wants to walk out the door, but I just have to explain he can’t do that. He has a small backpack and I make sure it contains glucose tablets and Lucozade drink, and he wears an insulin pump all the time now.
With support from his family, Callum has lived his life just as any boy would and gets frustrated when some people think he is suffering.
“He had a bit of a rant on social media about the way people describe the condition as ‘suffering from diabetes’,” says Jen.
“He has diabetes but he is by no means suffering from it, it doesn’t stop him from doing what he wants to do. He just has to make sensible choices, which you should do whether you have a condition or not.”
As long as he’s wearing his ID band Jen is assured that if anything were to happen, Callum would have the right care.
“Just knowing that if he can’t tell someone what’s wrong, the wristband is a huge thing for me. I’d recommend them to anyone who needs something like this.”