Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A Child with Diabetes

I dislike it when my children are labeled "diabetic."  For example, someone will see us do a fingerpoke and say, "Oh, she is diabetic."  Now, I know that this is not meant to be insulting, it is a fact.  But I really dislike the label.  I usually respond, "Yes, she is a child with diabetes."  Sometimes, even now, when I hear the word "diabetic" I picture older, overweight people- the stereotypical image of Type 2.  I think many people conjur up this image because I have been told many times by well meaning people how lucky we are to have caught it so early so they can just "outgrow it."  Wouldn't that be nice!?!?  I often wish it had a different name, just so it was easier to differentiate.  Only 5-10% of all diabetes diagnosis are Type 1.  I am always tempted to go into a long lecture about how it's Type 1:  their bodies can't make insulin, their pancreas does not work because their autoimmune system misfired and broke it and now they need shots (or a pump) everyday so that they may live. Yes, exercise helps.  No, there isn't a cure.  Yes, they can eat candy.  No, it's not contageous.  You get the picture. 

I had the priviledge of attending a day at Diabetes Camp with TJ this summer.  Both girls like camp but Taya loves it.  She would live there if she could, I think.  As I mentioned before, she is much  more secretive about having diabetes.  She likes to blend.  But, at camp everyone is in the same boat.  She has made some very good friends there that she keeps in touch with regularly.  Each year she comes back from camp renewed and this year she will even wear her pump site where people can see it!  So, I went in to camp already liking it and since the girls had been going for years had a pretty good idea of what went on.  What I was not prepared for, however, was how incredibly humbling it is to be one of a handful of people who do not check their blood sugar before eating!  I was the minority.  And these kids- so amazing!  We live with diabetes every single day at our house but I watched these kids help each other, do fingerpokes while talking about campfires, playing games, swimming, laughing at each others silly jokes and it just brought tears to my eyes.  When they had a group meeting they cheered on the little girl who did her own shot for the first time.  They teased the counselor who did not have diabetes but agreed to wear a pump for 3 days to be like everyone else.  They laughed at the kids who got hit with the water machine gun for getting so much mail.  These were not "diabetics"- these were kids- amazing kids- 56 of the 215,000 people younger than age 20 who happen to have diabetes.

I have mentioned that my kids are active.  Tylie played volleyball until this year and still is active in soccer, she runs, works out and has a passion for art.  Taya plays hockey, volleyball and soccer.  Tessa is a figure skater and there is a girl who wears a pump on her Synchro team and TJ plays soccer, hockey, and baseball and is begging me to sign him up for karate.  In between all that they downhill ski in winter and water ski in summer and swim anywhere there is water and time to spare.  There is nothing we have told them they cannot try.  Diabetes does not define them.  Looking at them, you can't see diabetes- you see children.  Children who laugh, cry, play, argue, and fight. Sure, there are times I check blood sugar to make sure that the crying doesn't have a cause other than frustration or sadness or so that I can yell back at them freely without feeling guilty when I later realize their blood sugar was off.   Yes, packing for a trip takes a little planning and we never leave the house without a backpack full of T1 gear and a days supply of food.  But, when they are all loaded in the car and we are ready to go I don't see "diabetics" behind me.  I see 4 pretty awesome kids- 3 of whom just happen to have a naughty pancreas!

(Statistics taken from:

1 comment:

  1. Naughty pancreas is a great way to put it. Great blog on letting kids be kids.