No 2 are Alike

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So as we approach our third ‘winter’ in South Carolina, I am reminded of the one thing I do not miss about living up North……..snow. I was never a fan of snow. It always looks beautiful and then the reality hits that those beautiful flakes will not remove themselves from your car and your property.

The one thing about snow that I always found fascinating was that, as the saying goes, no two are alike. Millions and millions of snowflakes and each as different as the next. This was my assessment of those with diabetes for years. I even called it the snowflake disease as how it impacts one may be completely different with someone else……and in many cases it does impact two people completely differently.

Remember that the next time you want to jump in and help someone with a diabetes inquiry. The way diabetes impacts your child could be 180 degrees different than how it impacts someone else. But withing this discussion is also a celebration of how people move beyond the limitations of this disease in their own lives. Just this week, one young man made the junior Olympic team, one starred in a football game, one danced the Nutcracker, one entered medical school, one is graduating Family Nurse Practitioner school, one went away on their first weekend without mom and dad and ALL OF THEM did it with diabetes.

So as we head into the holiday season, celebrate the uniqueness of your child. Celebrate that what they do, and remember that they do it while managing a truly tedious disease. A disease they did not ask for. A disease that was thrust upon them. Celebrate their uniqueness. And while your at it, give a pat on your own back for all you do to help them.

No two snowflakes are alike. And neither are your children. Their uniqueness is worth celebrating……in fact, it melts your heart, doesn’t it?

I am a diabetes dad.
Please visit my Diabetes Dad FB Page and hit ‘like’.

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This Month, ‘Diabetes’ Gets Nothing!

Dear Diabetes Awareness Month,

Sorry I have not paid you so much attention this year. I mean I certainly continued the advocacy I find so important. People need to be made aware of your signs so they can get proper care before it is too late.

I am also not letting you off the on letting insulin prices go just as high as they want; we’ll keep fighting that too.

But I am spending my time enjoying the things you cannot keep from my kids. I visited Minnesota this month and shared with my son his new digs at the corporate offices of Best Buy. You know, the place he could not get to because he was too young or his diabetes might get in the way. Yeah; that didn’t happen and now as he approaches his second year, we continue to be so proud how he and his fiance are doing out there, so sorry I was not dwelling on just the diabetes that week.

Oh, and also sorry that I could not spend more time with you in the middle of the month as I had to visit Kaitlyn; you remember her don’t you? You know the one diagnosed at age two, the one where one medical professional told me I should be lucky enough to hope for just getting through college. Never knew if they meant that diabetes would be so hard she would be unable to balance it with her studies or that she would be alive at this point……….well she graduated college. Graduated nursing school too. Next month she graduates as an FNP—or Family Nurse Practitioner. Take that!

Always surprised they named a month after you. It should be about those who, time-and-time-again, prove that diabetes will not stop them. It should be about those who have accomplished wonderful things despite having you in their lives.

They excel, they find great jobs, they get married, they have kids, they succeed—they do everything that you thought you would stop them from doing. So perhaps we should call November Hero Awareness Month, because quite frankly, you do not deserve to have a month named after you. But our kids do. And the kids we lost do also. They lived as heroes for as long as they could until they could not do it any longer……and you took them.

That’s what happens in a war. And this is a war. And all of us will do battle every day.
Some day, you will lose and we will win. Because you deserve nothing form us and nothing is what we are ready to give to you……..least of all to even have a month named for you. Better we stress the “Awareness” in Diabetes Awareness Month……and give you credit for nothing.

I am a diabetes dad.
Please visit my Diabetes Dad FB Page and hit ‘like’.

Diabetes Awareness Month……Key Word: AWARENESS

Well here we are again, Diabetes Awareness Month.  Trending are many people asking to post something each day of this month.  How many test strips do you use, how many units of insulin, how long have you lived with t1d????  Something different each day of the month.  I’m not so sure I would want to break down my two kids’ diabetes into a 30 day ‘advent-like’ calendar of what we have been doing for the last 27+ years, but if it works for you, why not?

But WHATever you are doing for this month, ask yourself this question as you contemplate what to do to bring awareness to the outside world; ‘who is seeing this?’  It’s great to show the diabetes community, but here’s the catch, they know already.  Whatever you are doing, and it’s up to you whatever that is, but make sure you are monitoring where your posts end up.  All year round we are certainly here to help one another but November offers a very specific charge; awareness.

SO encourage people who read your posts to send them to those who do not know anything about this disease.  Figure out some things to do, here are a few examples;  Encourage your kids to give a presentation in school about diabetes awareness; go to www.getdiabetesright.org and download one of the many awareness posters, print a bunch, hand out and hang throughout your community; donate to a diabetes charity, a camp, or any diabetes organization you like; ask to speak at one of your community meetings like Rotary Clubs, LIONs Clubs, Chamber of Commerce about diabetes awareness; wear blue like my dear friend Paula does all year round each Friday (my Fridays are just not the same if she doesn’t) but now you have 30 days–wear blue, and just do something to get that word out; just don’t do nothing.

This month is all about Diabetes Awareness…….so make people aware!  Not those who know already but those you don’t.  You might just save a life.
I am a diabetes dad.
Please visit my Diabetes Dad FB Page and hit ‘like’.

We CANNOT Break

We are a community.  What impacts one, impacts all.  Those of us who have decided that Just Doing Nothing will not do, have taken up our position in this diabetes battle.  There are as many positions as there is work to be done.

Taking no action, takes no effort.
Again:
Taking no action, takes no effort.
It’s easy.

It can cause you no harm. One has enough to worry about than to think, ‘I have to spend all my precious time on me and my family’. Right? There is power in that, but if we all only looked after our own personal lives, where would we be? I have known and been friends with so many people in this battle who believe stronger in doing things that I do not do.  I have known friends that support organizations more so than I support.  There s just so much tine in a day.

That’s okay.

They are on the front lines of battle.  Like the strongest of Palm Trees they bend during the storm but they do not break. It would be so much easier to take a seat in the back of the room. But they stand directly in the front of our diabetes community facing the diabetes storm; advocating, fighting, raising money, walking, running, bike riding, hanging posters, testifying in front of state and national Capitols, teaching, organizing, and in simple terms they are doing something they find to be important.  Something that will help their own, and in doing so, helping you.

It’s easy to point and criticize. It’s harder to say, “Let me help you”.  You may not be the first in the battle you undertake……..and you will not be the last.  But we cannot stand as a divided entity.  We cannot stand opposing each other.  When I started this battle I was a 35-year-old man who had a ton of energy and hope for my daughter (and then my son as well).  Now at 61, my hope for our kids has not wavered one iota, I just move a little slower.

So ask yourself what you are doing to help and make a difference?  Because if we don’t help……..who will?  Look around you, you have 9 million chances and choices but it starts with that first realization……..”I need to get involved”.

Just Don’t Do Nothing
I am a diabetes dad.
Please visit my Diabetes Dad FB Page and hit ‘like’.

Moms and Dads……Halloween can be BOOtiful for You Too……Enjoy!

This month is Halloween, in fact in just about a week.  Halloween means so much to kids.  Our kids with diabetes are no exception, after all, they’re just kids; right?.  I remember when Kaitlyn was younger and many neighbors bought stickers and toys for Kaitlyn for Halloween trick or treats; “…I did not know what to get for her”, was a common comment.

People are wonderful.

We were discussing this weekend, over coffee, that each year there was no doubt with all of the walking that she would do that ‘going low thing’ would not only occur but almost always at the exact same block each year.  She would carefully choose something out of the trick or treat bag. (of course juice boxes and ‘stuff needed’ were readily available ‘just-in-case’ as well—but letting her choose something from the Halloween Trick-or-Treat bag…why not?).  We would wait a few minutes and continue on.  Fun and frights continued.  On this day our kids strive and want to be just like all the others kids…….AND THEY SHOULD BE.  Don’t be afraid to let them.

I remember many conversations from people who do not live with diabetes as we do.  Their naive questions regarding how Halloween must be a disaster for us, having a child “who cannot eat candy”.  People thought that we would deprive our child of this incredible right-of-passage.

Those of us ‘in the know’ know better, don’t we?

If you do not know….you should learn how close to normal you can make this day.  Our kids are not driving close to a cliff during this day.

Of course we would control the candy; some gave money in exchange, some put the candy outside for the GREAT PUMPKIN to take and exchange for a toy; but we always controlled what the kids ate and went through it all like all parents do each year.

We all do those things.

There are many things that you can find online about kids, diabetes, and what to do.  Today I want to check in with where YOUR head is at.  You should not be afraid (pun intended) of this day and you should spend the time enjoying your kids, while they enjoy the day.

Diabetes never stopped us on Halloween and it should not stop you either.  Go and enjoy.  This is a holiday for kids to enjoy and with a little knowledge and a little ‘smarts’, the only frightening thing about the day should be at your front door when the doorbell rings.

Be afraid……..be very afraid?   Nah…….enjoy; Halloween is nothing to ‘spook’ you.

I am a diabetes dad.
Please visit my Diabetes Dad FB Page and hit ‘like’.

Could it be; a Patch that REALLY STAYS? Take a Look and Try for Yourself.

As many of my readers know, I do not use these pages for advertising.  If I find something that can help, solve a problem, and/or make diabetes life any easier, I share. To be clear: I have received no remuneration for this article, I’m sharing about this product because, quite frankly, it just does what it’s supposed to…….stay on.

I hope it works for all, but in fairness I have not seen it on everyone so I can not say 1000% that it will be for everyone.  And of course if you have any hesitation, ask your medical team about the product after you visit their site and find out more.  That said, and the disclaimers aside, if you ever had a problem with your patch you may want to read carefully.

StayPut Medical is a series of patches created by Mike Mangus (founder Pres./CEO) because he heard from so many while in his prior jobs what a problem these patches are/were with the medical devices supposed to stay on, including those devices worn by people with diabetes.  I saw a group of moms talking about StayPut and then I gave a few to people I know; and each one said the patch made an incredible difference.

So now I share with you.

You can click the link above on Mike’s site where you will find a boatload of information,  how this all came about, and also how you can receive a free sample ($1.99 for shipping and stuff).

Good luck and let me know what you feel after you try them.  And also share this on sites where this patch might help others.
I am a diabetes dad.
Please visit my Diabetes Dad FB Page and hit ‘like’.

A Favor……Perhaps……..Could be Times 4!

As many of you know, I rarely utilize this column for anything more than the articles to hopefully teach and inspire,  But there is this incredible opportunity given to the Diabetes Research Institute Foundation that I’m sure hoping you will join in and help.

The Sola Sweet company, from now until the end of November –Diabetes Awareness Month—-will match every dollar up to $10,000 donated on the site listed below—-we already have over $1600.00.  And to make it even better; we also have another match from a Foundation that will match that $20,000 donation as well.   It’s too good an opportunity not to ask if you would be so kind and help.

Go to this site on FaceBook:
https://www.facebook.com/thesolacompany/
……and donate today.  November is Diabetes Awareness Month, Tomorrow is Giving Tuesday, with everything your $20 donation would be matched to make it $40, and that entire match would be matched again to make it $80.00…..so EVERY donation will be multiplied by 4……please donate today.

Any questions, feel free to shoot me an email at tkarlya@drif.org

Thank you so much for caring so.
I am a diabetes dad.
Please visit my Diabetes Dad FB Page and hit ‘like’.

Painting Your Child’s Diabetes…..Careful, it’s Not your Canvas

I saw a picture this week, a child in a hospital and the person who posted it wrote that this was their life with diabetes, that no one knew what they went through, and this is their world every day, all of the time.

As I read this story, I felt bad for two reasons……the first, and obvious, is that no one wants to go thorough their life with a child in a hospital for any length of time. The second is that this person truly believed that this IS their ‘world, every day’, how sad.  Our life was not this, ‘every day’.  From my kids’ point of view, yes they have a disease. Yes it sucks.  But they hit it head on and move through, on, and/or around but they do not stop due to this disease………….ever.  They accomplished what any other child WITHOUT diabetes accomplished.

Bad days?  You bet.   Time they want help to take a break from a CGM and/or a pump?  Of course.  But for the most part they realized the only way they can move forward is to……well, move forward.

If I was a child of fourteen-or-so in a hospital stay from  a low blood sugar, I’m not so sure how thrilled I would be if my dad posted a picture of me on social medial for the world to see.  If you think that it does not matter to your child, you better think again.  And if you think that they do not see things like that on social media……..you better think about that again as well.

It’s a tough balance because; for whatever diabetes charity one is involved, it’s important to move people to give and help those causes, and that is great, but also do not be afraid to ask your child what they think on the picture you are about to post or the story you are about to tell.  Ask them.  And listen to their answers.

When I write or I post, I have guidelines from my kids.  Twenty-six+ years into this I still remind myself daily that I do not have this disease.  I do not know what it’s like…..not for one second.  I respect their space, their feelings, and how they want the world to see their diabetes.  It’s not my disease.

I can speak from/as a parent but that is all I’m allowed to speak about without asking them.  Richard Rubin, one of the leading psyche-social-aspect-gurus of all time taught the meaning of the balance of respecting our kids and helping them understand that their life is not ‘just an open book’ because we think it should be.

Remember this the next time you are trying to make a point about this world of diabetes.  Know that this word is your child’s world 24/7/365……if you think you own it, your children will never learn to.  And the faster they take it on as their own, the better you will all be.  Help them through ALL OF IT but don’t assume you have rights without asking them.
I am a diabetes dad.
Please visit my Diabetes Dad FB Page and hit ‘like’.

Tennis Balls and Syringes; How the Diabetes Ball Bounces

Here we are for our 27th Diabetes Awareness Month.   Ahhhh November.  The thing I always share with parents is the fact that no matter how much time we spend on this journey, whether diagnosed last week, or 26 years ago, it makes sense to look back to the beginning and realize just how much we learned.

Because whether it is a short time, or a long time, one thing I know to be true is that no matter how much time passes, we gain knowledge every day.  Don’t we?  We start with the realization that we have no idea what this disease is about, and how to handle it, to meeting with newly diagnosed parents sharing with them that they too can do what we all have done.

One-day-at-a-time—–and breathe.

The other day I saw a tennis instructor working with a young pupil.  A basket full of tennis balls accompanied the teacher.   I’m not a tennis player and know little about it other than what I learned the times I tried it in my youth.   This was a new visual for me.  Tennis ball after tennis ball after tennis ball went from instructor’s racket over the net to the student’s racket.  It clearly was a practice they had done hundreds of times because the student knew, without a spoken word, when to move to different parts of the tennis court, or to use a backhand or overhead swing.  It was fascinating to watch.  Hours and hours and tens of thousands of tennis balls……tennis ball after tennis ball after tennis ball, again and again and again.

Every now and again the student would get frustrated because a shot was missed.
“Grrrrrrrr” came the noise.
All for one goal—-perfection.

We, too, do the same thing when it comes to our children and their diabetes management.  Again, and again, and again we try, striving for that perfection.  Perhaps we need to give ourselves a break sometimes because we are going to be right back at it tomorrow, and the next day, until such time that the ‘break’ we wait for arrives and this disease is cured once and for all.  But until such time it’s injection after blood check after treating a low after injection after blood check after treating a low after injection after……..

“Grrrrrrrr”.
I am a diabetes dad.
Please visit my Diabetes Dad FB Page and hit ‘like’.

Our Child’s Scariest First Dive

This may not be big news to anyone, but my little guy gave himself his own shot today.
Point: This IS BIG NEWS to anyone who understands that our children, once diagnosed, not unlike us; face incredibly ‘firsts’.  To me whether you are jumping off a cliff into water 80 feet below or taking an injection of insulin for the firs time——the unknown….is just that…..unknown.

Having the courage to say, “Mommy, I want to give myself my own shot today.”  Well to me, that is a huge step in the life of a child living with diabetes.  To begin to say, “This is my disease, I want to take control of it.” That’s huge and is a big step in any child’s life.

We, as parents, as much as we may try, have no idea what this might be like.   Think about it.  One is diagnosed.  Months go by and hundreds of blood-checking and insulin shots have occurred in your little one’s body.  They watch, but they really do not understand everything, they might nor even understand much at all.  But something clicks in their little minds; Why is mommy doing this to/for me each and every time, numerous times a day?

They ask themselves that question.  And each time, for days and weeks, they watch as insulin is given.  And at some point it hits them; why does mommy have to do this, I can do this.

Then, for a number of times, they ask the question inside their own heads at first.  Not sure what it means nor what you will say when they ask.  Again, again, again, and again they watch and the words are on the tip of their tongue.  Then, as if a voice from way down deep inside pushes their tiny thought our of their little mouth;  Can I give myself my shot today?

The world stops dead-in-its-tracks as parent and child stare at each other.  Almost as if the disbelief from the one hearing it,  is matched by the disbelief of the little one saying it.   They stare at each other.

Mom will speak first.

Ah……um…….sure honey.  If you want to try it.  Sure.

Mommy smiles as she hands the insulin to the waiting child.
The child has seen it hundreds of times, they know what to do.
Still, there is that moment.  That moment of the unknown.  The child does it, takes the injection, lifts the needle out and looks square into the eyes of mommy.  The child smiles.
See mommy I knew I could do it.
Mommy smiles and hugs her child tightly.
Yes baby, I knew you could.

The child runs and goes to continue playing outside with the incredible feeling of accomplishment.  The first step in taking on their diabetes.

Mommy smiles until her child leaves the room and is outside playing again.
She drops on the bed and cries her eyes out.

I am a diabetes dad.
Please visit my Diabetes Dad FB Page and hit ‘like’.