BLOG WEEK ENTRY 4: In Death She Taught Us Our Greatest Accomplishment

SyringesThis week is blog week and we, the DOC Bloggers, have all been given a title for each day of the week and asked to write on this topic.the fourth entry into blog week we are asked to address the following title: What is our greatest accomplishment big or small. 

As in most things in this journey of ours,  the accomplishment I consider to be one of the largest had little to do with me, but it did have to do with us being educated and listening.

POWER.  The biggest amount of power we can give our kids with diabetes is the ability to own it.  To care for themselves.  To take care of their diabetes.  The more they do, the more they ‘own’; the better for them in the long run.

When Kaitlyn was first diagnosed, we were under the absolute belief that she was going to have this for the rest of her life so we figured we would DO AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE for as long as we could.  It was the least we could; right?   Read on.

Mindy entered our lives.

Mindy was as smart as she was beautiful.  She had type 1 for years, was married, had a wonderful daughter and she was one of the strongest women I have ever met.  She would tell us a story that would change our lives.

When we first started on this journey and met Mindy she told me that I seemed like a very dedicated dad and that I was driven to change this world of diabetes.

I informed her that I was definitely on that roadway. 

Mindy said, “start with your daughter.  Tom I am going to tell you something and you will get angry but know this as truth.  It is not your diabetes, give it back to Kaitlyn.”

She was correct……I got angry.  Of course it was as much ours as it was hers.  What is she talking about?  She continued.

“Hear me out.  I was diagnosed with diabetes at a very early age.  My parents did everything for me.  EVERYTHING.  Age 9-10-11-12-13.  I never did a thing; NOT A THING.  They followed me, they measured, they tested, and they injected.  I was home one night waiting for them because I was hungry (Remember that we are speaking of diabetes in the 60’s-70’s here).

The door bell rang and my grandmother answered the door (even she was not trained on what to do with my diabetes).  I remember the policeman standing there.  My parents were killed in an automobile accident.  And to be honest, I was unsure if I was more angry that they were dead or that they left me with everything AND I KNEW NOTHING.  SO I can tell you, give Kaitlyn her diabetes back.  You will be glad you did.”

We started that day.  It became the greatest accomplishment because Kaitlyn took complete control as soon as we knew she was able.  By age 7 she was giving herself her own shots.  It was a painful but crucial lesson to learn.

I am a diabetes dad.

Please visit my Diabetes Dad FB Page and hit ‘like’

10 replies on “BLOG WEEK ENTRY 4: In Death She Taught Us Our Greatest Accomplishment”

This is so very true and I am sure it is one of the hardest realizations and challenges the parent of a type 1 diabetic faces. It is after all, your job as the parent to protect and care for child. When your child is diagnosed at an especially young age it may be more difficult to transition them into caring for themselves in addition to their diabetes. I was diagnosed at age 8 in 1989. I didn’t start doing my own injections until I was almost 13. WIth the introduction of Humalog came more freedom and responsibility in my life all at a very delicate teen-age. My parent’s were very much a part of my diabetes management but they monitored it from the sidelines. I was in charge and it was my responsibility. My parents took me to all my endo appointments but only came in the room if I asked them to. On occasion I might have them do an injection just for a break, but from the day I started it was my job. I had several friends as a teenager who were well versed on my diabetes and even gave me injections from time to time. knew had help and support and until I was 23 I had health insurance through my father, my mother would still go pick up rx’s from time to time. Transitioning into adulthood with diabetes has been the most challenging thing I have had to face in life. My parents did a wonderful job instilling the responsibility of caring for myself and there was still a whole world I was unprepared for. I would caution parents to let your children be children, as best as you can with diabetes, but always keep in m ind that one day they will no longer be children, but they will still be diabetic and that they will need to have learned crucial skills to successfully manage their diabetes and life.

This is my second worst fear. My son does everything for himself, weighing, measuring, calculating, site changes, everything short of managing his prescriptions/supplies. He’s 14. He has to have control. I have never done a site change for him. To the point where the idea of it almost makes me nervous (like I know I’ll have to do it someday). But if something happens to us and he is alone somewhere…it sends chills up my spine. I can’t even type it out, that’s how rough that one is.

This is very powerfully written and speaks to my own philosophy of parenting. My son was diagnosed with type I at age 5. He’s 14 now and seeming more grown up everyday. It’s always been my hope that his dad and I give him as much responsibility as he can handle, teach as much as he needs to know, and supports him with his diabetes, and everything else, as best we can. He has gone to a week long diabetes day camp every summer since he was diagnosed. At ten, he started going on Boy Scout camp outs and 10 day summer camps. This has been life changing for him. He can practice his independence skills and diabetes care with the support of adults who care about him, but are not me or his dad.

Tomorrow, I will be leading a weekend retreat for high school aged kids who will be CITs at the day camp my son started attending in 2004. While this will be challenging, it is so important for all kids, but especially kids who have chronic illnesses, to practice being responsible for themselves and their own care somewhere safe. Think of me and send good thoughts my way.

Yes, Tom, I agree. Setting age appropriate Diabetes management responsibilities is an important part of preparing for adulthood. I would feel better if I had total control but he has 6 years until he’s off to college and that time is going to fly by. I force the control freak in me to chill out knowing it will be better for him in the long run. Of course things don’t go as perfectly as they would if I micromanaged him but it’s part of the learning process. I’m proud to say my 6th grader is really independent. He calculates his own carbs, he takes care of his pump blouses waves squares, he corrects – and yes, he screws up sometimes. He’s still a kid so I have to occasionally remind him to check and I have to treat the lows but I think we’re on the right path for his future and our relationship 🙂

Thanks Jeanette for sharing a little of what you deal with Sounds like a 6th grader who is giving his all….just like his mom. 🙂
Thanks again for writing.

My daughter was only diagnosed 2 months ago, but I have already been rolling a blog post on this topic around in my head. I find, when I am writing about D, I have to often go back and change the pronouns, I write about,”we,” “our,” and, “us.” And I have to edit it to say, “hers” and, “she.” Because right now, it truly is all mixed up in my head. I am well aware of the phenomenon, but I’m not quite over the reflexive reaction. But I have definitely noticed some commingling of ownership. Something to work on. Great post.

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