Riley Diabetes Nurse To Patients: ‘It Seems Bad Now But Things Are Going To Be Alright’

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Kate Haynes, who was diagnosed at age 12 with diabetes, talks about what’s important when a child is first diagnosed. For one, don’t immediately cut out the cupcakes.

Don’t cut out the cupcakes. Not immediately. Maybe not for months. Maybe never.

When a child is first diagnosed with diabetes, that’s the last thing Kate Haynes wants to happen.

The diabetes nurse educator at Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health, who was diagnosed at age 12 with diabetes, knows exactly what’s important when a child is first diagnosed.

She wants to make sure they realize that life isn’t over, that life is just going to be a little different. And she doesn’t want to take away the treats in life, at first.

“We don’t want them to be miserable. We don’t want to say, ‘You can’t ever eat cupcakes again,’” she says. “It’s all about balance.”

When a child is first diagnosed, there is so much information. At first, it’s all about survival skills. Haynes’ job is to help patients and families get the information they need to manage the disease.

Often, it can be overwhelming. Haynes always tells patients the same thing.

“It seems bad now, but things are going to be alright,” Haynes says. “You’re going to be able to travel and play sports, do everything other kids do. You just have to do a little bit more to eat your food.”

Like the insulin and the blood sugar testing. But for kids with Type 1 diabetes, Haynes says the team tries not to strictly limit what they eat. Of course, there are no sugary drinks and sodas.

“But we want them to eat like a kid,” she says. “Just count carbs and match that up with the insulin.”

Haynes is a big fan of portion control and exercise -- which most kids really like. Go on a hike, jump on a trampoline, take a walk, play basketball with friends.

And then? Maybe, just maybe, have a cupcake.

“In the end,” Haynes says, “we want kids to be kids.”

Read more about Haynes’ diabetes diagnosis here.

-- By Dana Benbow, Senior Journalist at IU Health.

   Reach Benbow via email or on Twitter @danabenbow.

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