Carole Blueweiss

Type 1 Diabetes:Art & Science


JoAnne Robb is a psychotherapist from Oakland, California, who counsels adults and parents of children with Type 1 Diabetes. She is a mother of three. Her oldest and youngest have diabetes and her middle child does not, although as you’ll learn through our conversation, he is still very much impacted by the disease. In this episode, JoAnne shares first-hand knowledge and personal stories. We learn why managing  Type 1 Diabetes is as much an art as a science; why children and  teenagers have their own dynamics, how technology can be a double-edged sword when it comes to managing the disorder, and how support is available if you know where to look.  

JoAnne explains why Type 1 is a family disease and the importance of finding support and community. She speaks of the advantages and disadvantages  of different insulin delivery systems, the role food plays, the intense financial implications of managing Diabetes, and much more. 

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“When we first were diagnosed—you’ll see that I’m using the word ‘we’; I think of [Type 1] as a family disease in a lot of ways, especially when kids are young. It’s too much for the kids to carry by themselves.”

“When I thought about what would be hard for a kid around diabetes management, I would have thought of the shots and the needles and the pokes, but really what’s hard is having this constant numbers game.”

“There’s a lot of anxiety about being a parent of a kid with Type 1. And I feel like some of the information out there kind of heightens that anxiety. I feel like my contribution to this dialogue is to say, there’s a way to do this more calmly.”

“Pump supplies are really expensive, CGM is really expensive, insulin is really expensive.”

“How we approach [Type 1 Diabetes] emotionally truly makes a difference in our relationship to the disease…and ultimately in our children’s relationship to the disease.”

“And the other thing that’s been completely invaluable, which I could not pitch more strongly, is diabetes camp…we went to family camp and we gained a lot of community, but also a lot of information.

“Restricting food too much can have a mental health boomerang effect that you really don’t want.”

“This is not just a medical condition, even though it seems like it is, It’s also an emotional condition…and a lowercase t trauma.”

“I do think that the way that parents talk about this trauma of diabetes makes a difference in the child’s relationship to the disease.”

“Learning Diabetes is like drinking from a fire hose.”

“The Diabetes community in general is very generous about wanting to help each other because we all know exactly what we’re going through.”

“My biggest piece of advice is that you will learn this and your child will be okay and you will be okay. And that doesn’t mean everything will be good all the time, but this is survivable.”

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