Getting diagnosed with diabetes is just plain scary. Sometimes it is even more so for the family than the patient. That was the case when I was diagnosed at the age of 11. Sure, I was scared and a little confused, but for the most part I didn’t understand what was going on. My mom, still to this day, tells me how terrifying it was for her to have a daughter diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes requires some adjustments to lifestyle that can be uncomfortable for both patient and their family.
Joslin Diabetes Center, located in Boston Massachusetts, has made the life altering change a little smoother for many families by creating the New Onset Program in 2010. Through this program patients and their families can receive the education they need without having to remain hospitalized unless it is necessary due to being physically sick.
“Outpatient management is often preferable because it is less disruptive to families and gives them immediate, real world experience in managing diabetes with the benefit of close supervision from an experienced team,” says Michelle Katz, M.D. , M.P.H., an endocrinologist in the Pediatric, Adolescent and Young Adult Programs.
Some patients require hospitalization at the time of diagnosis, but not all. However, in most places patients remain hospitalized throughout their education in order to adequately prepare them for a lifetime of treatment, even if technically their medical condition is stable. It has not changed much over the many years since I was diagnosed. I was not incredibly sick when I was diagnosed, in fact I didn’t think there was anything wrong, but my Mom thought I was acting a little strange and I have relatives with diabetes so she knew the warning signs. I remember feeling completely fine but was required to stay at the hospital for several days while receiving education for my type 1 diabetes.
A program like the New Onset Program would have been perfect for me and my family at the time of my diagnosis. I hope that hospitals and diabetes centers across the nation will learn from this great service provided by the Joslin Diabetes Center and create similar programs that can make the transition after diagnosis back into the real world a little easier.