We have all heard THAT phrase at one time or another. “Why can’t I be like other kids?” It goes through us like a sword, doesn’t it? Sometimes it is followed by tears, sometimes a hug, we stay strong.
We die a little on the inside also, don’t we?
We have addressed this issue two ways over the years. The first is that Kaitlyn was not ‘excluded’ from ANYthing. We made sure that if her classmates did something, so did she. Usually we were asked this question (which was not a lot by any means but certainly it was asked and certainly tears were shed) during a blood check or a shot (before pump days). When we were asked, we went through all of the things that Kaitlyn did, just like the other kids.
We would always add an incident that made us laughed together also. And we would give her a little tickle and say “…..remember when we laughed at when daddy wore those silly Easter Bunny ears with you? Remember that picture.”
She would smile and we would close by saying; “…it is very important that you get to do these things just like everyone else. And we have to manage your diabetes (we used that word, manage–from day one so she would know it. We explained each time until she grasped it, what it meant.) so we can do what you can to try to make sure you don’t feel groggy like when you are low. The phrase changed as she got older.
Over the years, we heard that people used different phrases; ‘God made you sweeter than the rest” and other phrases. If it works for you that is fine but know that at some point, you have to start educating your child. We decided to do it from ‘the get-go’. We also pointed out that people are all different for many reasons; but after a while it was clear to us that we could not reference diabetes like the color of ones hair being different from others. So we decided to always make it about choices and that to do all of the exciting things that life had in store for her, she needed to make sure her diabetes was managed.
We made it about a choice she would have to make. And she did. We would ask her if she wanted to continue to help us manage her diabetes so she could also continue doing what all the other kids were doing. And this worked most of the time.
When it was a day that was just too much; we held her. It did make it a bit easier because I too have been dealing with a chronic disease since my teens. It is not the same as diabetes but I have to carry my meds with me at all times. So it was easier to say; “Just like daddy always has his meds you need to make sure you have yours with you.” This helped a lot also.
It was very important that our tone was always such that was an explanation. Not a big fuss and a major deal, IMPORTANT but something to deal with and take care, and move on to the busy day ahead. When she was interviewed when she was 9 while the news station was following her when she went on the pump, she said something that, again, would change my life. During the interview she said, “I have diabetes, diabetes is not who I am.”
It was at that moment I knew we were doing something right.
I am a diabetes dad.
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