I’ve been joining up to more Facebook pages that are aimed at parents with diabetic children and I have had to hold my true comments back due to not wanting to upset the parents. Well, I’ve decided to roll the dice and bare it all. I have written about this subject in the past as well as in various forums within the D-OC (diabetic online community) as I was diagnosed just as I entered Grade 1 – so bear with me if I repeat myself (remember – I’m now ½ a century old ).
What has lead me today to write this post is seeing a parent say they are battling a horrible disease. It hit me like a brick in the face reading that. I wrote on my Facebook page that parents with that children are likes sponges and to be careful with what they said or thought. I was once one young like your own son/daughter – and could sometimes hear the whispers (I have Super Power hearing – remember I wear a cape ) of my parents behind closed doors as they tried to fathom what they were up against –if they were bad things – luckily I had shoved those words into the deep recesses of my brain. Back in the 60’s when I was diagnosed, we had much less knowledge about diabetes in young children (sometimes I think it was hit or miss), we were only 1% of the population compared to the now almost 10%. I was a cute novelty in the hospital I went to in Ottawa, where mainly Type 2’s were being taken care of. I darn well took advantage of that as well – I knew where the bread was buttered.
Other than that diabetes was just something that was part of my life and I didn’t really think much about it. Injections then were just once a day. Testing of urine a few times a day (I can’t really recall – it just was something I did – just like tying up your shoe laces – wait – now kids use Velcro). I was a kid just like any other kid. I wanted to explore, play with my friends! Luckily my parents pretty well let me do anything I wanted to do. I was I guess what you would call a wanderer – a parent’s worst nightmare. I was always off exploring in the woods, going on organized bicycle trips in the summer time with the youth camp that was at the park across my street. I was just plain active. Do I remember much about having hypos, etc.? Nope, all I knew I was a kid having fun, playing with my friends.
I think my parents giving me this independence probably is what made me stronger with coping with life with diabetes. They did not make a big thing out of it. Perhaps now-a-days due to all the medical advancements – parents perhaps know too much – and it worries them with trying to keep their child’s A1C at that “perfect” number along with blood sugar readings. I don’t really recall too many hypo episodes – when they did – it was jelly bean time – yippee!!! I really don't remember many bad episodes (well - one of my Mum chasing around the house when I had a hypo and my vivid imagination thought she was a giant chasing after me and she's only 5' 2" (1.6 metres).
Of course, in my teen years, life became abit more difficult with peer pressure, etc. I mean, what parent doesn’t experience problems with their teenager, diabetic or not? Our hormones are way out of control – we want to be adults NOW – we don’t want to do what our parents tell us to do. With diabetes, it’s abit more complicated, but I managed alright and was holding down 2 part time jobs along with school. Again, maybe due to my parents letting me take control of my diabetes much earlier than many parents do today helped? Was it a good thing? I don’t know. I’m to blame I know for going into DKA and coma at the age of 14. Again, this memory is vague, probably not a pleasant experience for me to remember (or for my parents as well plus as my Mum says - it's too long ago to remember for her). I survived though; it was a learning lesson, and luckily no devastating results except for what they say a few brain cells lost for earlier memories and my knotted hair got cut short (I was always ahead of time with fashion ).
So, the point of my writing this to all you parents out there. Please be careful with what you think/say around your children. After almost ½ a century of being a diabetic – I can attest that I think having diabetes for most of my life has made me a much better person and hopefully the same will apply to your children with having a positive attitude to the ups/downs of what diabetes can bring. There are also so many great discoveries being made in the 21st century that astound me sometimes, that it makes me excited to keep on living/mentoring/educating about diabetes and I want to be able to try new products and make my life which I already consider is really good, even better!!!
Picture taken in 1968 when my Nan came for a visit us in Canada
(she thought I was a terribly spoiled child and bought my Mum
a paddle to keep me in place)