James Coones – Part II
James Coones’ biggest advantage when his son Aidan was diagnosed was familiarity
James Coones, a firefighter, was diagnosed with T1D just before his 28th birthday. Little did James and his wife Amanda know that more than 13 years later, their son Aidan would be diagnosed. We recently caught up with James to ask him a few questions about Aidan’s diagnosis.
Q. When was Aidan diagnosed?
A. Aidan was diagnosed a month before his 10th birthday. It was the most emotionally draining moment of my life – far more emotional than my own diagnosis. I felt extreme guilt, as though I had done this to him. I knew I had to be strong for him and be the best example and role model but there were some tough “alone moments.” For the most part, I feel differently now and it has only brought us closer than the extreme closeness we already shared.
Q. How did having T1D help in terms of dealing with Aidan’s diagnosis?
A. The biggest advantage was familiarity. We knew exactly what it was, what needed to be done to manage it, what the potential negative effects were if not managed properly, and most importantly, we knew Aidan could have a very active, successful and fulfilling life if we treated it with the respect and attention it required. I think that seeing and knowing that I had been living a healthy, active and complication-free life with T1D really helped Aidan to better deal with his own diagnosis. It’s extremely important to me, for him (and everyone else who gets diagnosed with T1D for that matter, especially younger children) to know and believe that he can do absolutely ANYTHING he wants in life and that T1D should not hold him back from living his dreams.
Q. Aidan was also diagnosed with Celiac Disease; how has that affected managing his T1D?
A. The Celiac diagnosis was harder because it was new to us. Trying to work concurrently to manage two food intake conditions has been much more difficult when paired together, especially with the new restrictions being placed upon his diet. There are so many restrictions in order to avoid gluten – and often these gluten-free alternatives are much higher on the glycemic index. Thankfully, there are so many new quality products coming on the market that are gluten-free, so we have been able to provide some very good gluten-free substitutions for some of his favourite foods.
Q. What tips or advice would you share with other parents about managing their child’s T1D?
A. Every person and how they manage their T1D is different. The clinical management is best left between them and their endocrinologist/diabetes team but there are a few core things I would share from experiences thus far with Aidan:
- Learn as much as you can about T1D. Not only will it help you to better understand all of the idiosyncrasies that accompany T1D and how to better manage it, it will also show your child you care about what’s happening with them and that they have a good support system. It will also inspire confidence in him/her, knowing that you really understand T1D and are well versed and educated when it comes to helping them manage it, and are fully capable of making good, sound decisions they can trust.
- Make sure to impart all of that wisdom and knowledge on your child and involve them in the decision-making process when it comes to managing their T1D. They need to be knowledgeable and empowered.
- Be positive. This is so important to their mental health. There will be up-days and down-days throughout their lives when it comes to managing T1D. Set the example by staying positive yourself and offer all the encouragement you can.
- Try not to incur too much stress on yourself. This is a hard one, I know personally. It can and will consume you if you are always worried. You have to educate them as best as you can and then place a certain amount of trust in them that they can and will act responsibly. They are much more capable than we sometimes give them credit for.
- Allow them to be kids as much as possible. They have already been forced to grow up a little faster than normal and have extra responsibilities and burdens placed upon them because of T1D. Let them do the things kids do as much as you possibly can.
Thanks James for sharing Aidan’s diagnosis with us and for the helpful advice!