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Jake, an 8 year old boy with Type 1 diabetes, talks about how he is learning to live with a mammoth called Mel, in a new picture book published by NHS Wales. How to Manage a Mammoth contains ideas and tips for Jake and his family to work out how to get along with Mel, even when he’s being really annoying.
How to Manage a Mammoth is written by Dr Rose Stewart, and is part of the Talking Type 1 range of publications offering psychological support to people living Type 1 diabetes. It was officially launched at the Children and Young People’s Wales Diabetes Network meeting in Merthyr Tydfil in February 2020.
>>>>WATCH: Dr Rose Stewart’s presentation from the Network Meeting (link to YouTube)
“We wanted to help families explore how they feel about living with diabetes,” explains Rose. “Sometimes it is like living with an animal. Mel isn’t bad or naughty, but he gets in the way, and causes problems. Sometimes he causes arguments, and then he becomes the focus of the family. Soon Jake and his Mum have a mammoth problem on their hands.”
“So, Jake and his mum have to work on a plan to shrink Mel. That means talking to other people who are looking after their own diabetes animals, and talking to their healthcare team who are very good at helping people to shrink mammoths.
“Jake and his mum agree on a plan, and soon Mel is back to being a manageable size.”
How to Manage a Mammoth concludes with an activity section where children are asked to write or draw what their diabetes would look like if it was an animal, and how it would behave. “We have had a lot of feedback from people with diabetes about that,” says Rose.
“We have had people say their diabetes is like a bear, a puppy, or even an octopus! It’s a fun activity that helps children to understand that they are bigger than their diabetes, and this makes living with diabetes more manageable.”
“It also gives families a way to talk about diabetes and their feelings about diabetes in a different way, and to make it less scary or boring.
“The important thing is that Mel doesn’t go away. He will always be a part of Jake and part of Jake’s family. Understanding how to accept Mel, while continuing to do all the things he enjoys is how Jake finally learns to manage him.; and we hope that this book will help children and their families go some way towards accepting their diabetes too”
All paediatric diabetes teams in Wales have copies of How to Manage a Mammoth to give to families.
How to Manage a Mammoth is written by Dr Rose Stewart and illustrated by Richard Dwyer. It is published by NHS Wales, as part of the Talking Type 1 programme, in partnership with the Children and Young People’s Wales Diabetes Network. Talking Type 1 is funded by the Welsh Government through the All Wales Diabetes Implementation Group.