Your Child’s Outlook………Is Not Magic to Figure Out.

magicIt was a FB question that should have been simple enough; how long has everyone been dealing with diabetes?

I answered with just a factual regard; 21+ years (dx at 2) for one and 4+ years (dx at 13) for the other.  I just stared at the screen after I typed those words.  It seems so long ago but also seems like yesterday.

I kept thinking many things.  But what stood out more than anything else is how long my children have been dealing with diabetes.  What we have done as parents pales in the comparison of what they have endured all of these years.

I am not making light of the long hours of not sleeping and the long list that parents go through to make sure our children do well; we do a lot.

But when push comes to shove; what our kids go through just amazes me that they are functioning at all.  But in many cases they are more than functioning; aren’t they.

Where is your child?  Are they grabbing life for everything it has or is diabetes stopping them at every turn.  You must ask yourself why?  You must find out what stops them?  Mine is not a judgement against anyone here.  Mine is to ask yourself why some kids are just hugely successful at ‘this diabetes’ thing and for you to perform a ‘self-check’ if everything is being done to make sure your child has every opportunity that is before them and more than that; are they taking advantage of that opportunity?  This is as important as diabetes management itself.

I love reading the incredible stories of kids that are just mocking diabetes with the activities that they are involved.  Sports, theatre, singing, and just being kids.  Our kids have it tougher than those that do not deal with anything; and they do it knowing that there is this constant, nonstop, ever-present pain in their ass (excuse my language but there are no other words for it).

So you are in one of two categories. 1. Your child is living life to the fullest that life has to offer.  2. Your child is stopped in their tracks.   Where is your child?

Do you find yourself posting more pictures of your child in the hospital suffering than outside playing?  (First step is to stop posting pictures of your child in the hospital—-trust me when I tell you that they cringe when they see them).

I get that it isn’t easy–believe me I understand.  Our children are not athletes that will win huge scholarships but if they wanted to try something, anything, anytime; our only phrase was ‘go for it’. 

A while back a woman asked about wrestling and what to do with an insulin pump.  I thought it was cool that she was seeking out  what to do for her son who, I figured, was probably in junior high school.  I was wrong.  He was 5.  FIVE!!!!!!

Where do you think that woman’s child will be in 3-7-10 years?  Will he be a state finalist?  IT DOESN’T MATTER.  If she is looking to get him in the mainstream at age 5, you can bet your last dollar that he will be doing quite well later in life.

My point.  Life is not meant to be observed from the sidelines it is meant to be lived.  Why are some people’s children hugely successful ‘in getting in the game’ and others are not?  I cannot answer that question, only you can.  I can also ask; what are you DOING to get them in the game?  The power we have over our children’s decision-making process is huge and they will reflect our actions and thoughts.

Ask yourself how your child deals with diabetes and ask yourself how you deal with their diabetes; look familiar?

If none of this makes any sense to you; forget about it and move on.  But if you find yourself saying, “why does diabetes stop my child from so much?”, it’s my strongest suggestion that you move forward in 2014 to change that paradigm.

It’s not ‘presto-chango’, it’s not magic; it’s just a matter of taking that first step for your child to begin learning how to grab life for what it has to offer.  Diabetes is IN their life, it doesn’t have to BE their life.  Help them understand that point.

I am a diabetes dad.

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

0 thoughts on “Your Child’s Outlook………Is Not Magic to Figure Out.

  • My son has being living with T1 Diabetes for 7 years (dx age 9yrs old). He does not let this stop him from completely living his life! He is honour roll student who plays guitar in a band, loves sports and is part of student council at his school. He takes most of the care on himself and does it very responsibly, especially for a teenager! As a mother, to this day it still breaks my heart to watch what he endures daily, however I am so proud of him. He makes living with diabetes look so easy!

      • Today is the one year anniversary of our Son’s diagnosis. It has been a tremendous learning experience for the three of us, but it has been our son who has taught us the most. Although he is only 16, he has been the one who has shown us that “diabetes is IN his life, but it doesn’t have to BE his life.” Thanks for all of your post; they are always informational and inspiring!!!

  • My daughter’s spirit would be totally broken if she was not allowed to play sports. She was diagnosed in 4th grade with type 1 diabetes at the end of youth basketball season. We did not let type 1 diabetes stop her from participating in volleyball shortly after that, softball after that, and then basketball again. I was a volunteer coach for volleyball, walked around the park and exercised during softball practice, and sat and read through basketball practice to keep an eye on her during the younger years. She is currently in Junior High sports and I no longer sit through practices but we supply her with juice and Gatorade and speak to the coaches about hypoglycemia and glucagon and what to do in an emergency. This has been a huge step for us as parents – going from youth sports to school sponsored, Junior High Sports. Sports is her life and where there is a will, there is a way – ask for the help from others. They may not understand the seriousness of the diseases until on sits down and talks to them directly and then they are just as relieved to know as the parent!!

  • There’s actually a lot of research out there on this kind of thing. Unfortunately it seems to be a personality thing – some kids embrace the challenges, see themselves as survivors and push on through. Others are shell shocked and find it hard to cope. I suppose as parents we can just do out best to support. V hard. But there is in the terminology of Malcolm Gladwell a dimension of ‘desirable difficulty’ – something that teaches discipline, self awareness, persistence and resilience – but not for all. Hellish rate of attrition. We can just try to help were possible….

    Keep up the good work ( my daughter diagnosed at 6…)

  • My daughter was diagnosed 4 years ago at age 13. She is now 17 and was the District Singles Tennis Champion and helped her team win their 5th straight district team championship. She is also involved in many school activities and outside of school activities. She was also just accepted into Pharmacy school for the fall. Diabetes has not stopped her from living her life. She has such a positive attitude along with an awesome sense of humor. We are so proud of her and she amazes us always!

  • Yesterday marked the anniversary of my son’s first year living with type 1 diabetes. He is almost 12 and has amazed me with the way he has handled this. It was hard at first, especially since he was in the middle to of Upward basketball and a season of traveling ball. He persevered through those while on injections and was put on the pump soon after. He takes care of himself and doesn’t let diabetes slow him down in any way!

  • Holly Shirley says:

    This is a great question for parents of type 1 kiddos to ask themselves. Out daughter was diagnosed when she was 8 and is now 17. She is an avid runner and excels in school. She is a wonderful kid! I can only speak for myself on how we have handled “life with diabetes” and maybe it will positively help others. I have never let her use her diabetes for an excuse to not accomplish things. I can’t even begin to imagine what it is like for her to live everyday with it, but I think it’s very important that it not become an excuse. She will get down or frustrated with her blood sugars, pump malfunctioning, etc and we will allow her to wallow briefly. However, not for long. Their little lives will be full of challenges even beyond diabetes and they need to learn early on how to rise above in the face of this lifelong challenge. It is and always will be a part of her. It is so important that she embrace that fact and carry on with all of the amazing things she will accomplish in life! I will never forget when she was diagnosed and I had a total breakdown, as did our daughter. That doctor looked at me and said “you need to focus on the fact that she has been diagnosed with a condition that can be managed. And that she can go on and live a totally normal life, unlike the diagnosis of so many other diseases out there.” At the time that’s not what I wanted to hear, but soon after we realized that’s EXACTLY what we needed to hear.

  • Another great article! In my journey, I have come to believe that the timing of diagnosis in a childs age plays a small role in the way the diagnosis is received. As well as the timing in everyone in the entire family and what is taking place in their lives, that plays a role in how a T1D diagnosis is viewed/handled. When my son was diagnosed at age 7, it was a time in his life that he was mature enough to understand but at a place in his life where he really wanted to please and do right. He welcomed the praise of doing his on finger checks and counting carbs, etc. Sure he absolutely had some tough days of not being able to go to the snack cabinet and learning that with ingestion of carbs, came the need for insulin. But we didnt dwell on it…we kept on going with everything else in our lives. We embraced the Diabetes community, JDRF, DRI, and attended conferences and learned as much as we could. I will say though, that I am a Mom who shares all aspects of my life journey with my kids, so if my non-D daughter is being casted for a broken arm in the ER, I am the one taking a quick picture and if she is receiving recognition from NHS, I am the mom taking a picture at the ceremony!! Same with my D-son, if he is playing basketball and actually makes a shot, I will video it…and if he is in the ER for someting D-related and on his way to recovery…that picture will be taken! 🙂 I dont like to hide anything about our journey…it is all part of our journey. But I agree with you, if the focus is solely on the down trodden times, and the focus is chronically negative, then the diabetes journey will reflect that. That being said, it is very normal and healthy and important to express yourself and share your feelings and release all of the negative disappointing feelings that my come at very stages and phases of living with T1D. What is most imperative in my opinion, is to let it go and move forward and focus on all of the many blessings in our lives and on all of things that we can do in our lives, and our children can do in their lives. Reteach ourselves and our children to find the balance again in their newfound life living with T1D. As an example, my son tried out for the basketball team, he did not make the team (hopefully somebody out there can relate when I say, deep inside I was relieved as we were transitioning to the pump and I was beyond concerned that this should be the year we focus on getting adjusted to the pump without our first school basketball team responsibilities added on…but it turned out I didnt need to fret about all of that, because “life” decided for us that this would not be the year on the basketball team…instead “life” guided my son to be the manager of the team!! He travels to all of the away games, he is present for every practice, he fills in for any player that is out sick, he gets to leave school early and most important to me, he gets to have a new life experience!! And who knows, with a year of the pump under our belt and more practice the time might be right for the team in the next few years. But, only if he continues to try and put himself out there and be open to any opportunity that comes his way. Even as manager its extra work for us as parents, checking numbers before getting on the bus, making sure he is prepared and self-manages while keeping score and helping out. As with all of my children, I am happy to rearrange my schedule ask grandparents to help out to be at the games…and just do what it takes to help my son continue to blossom and grow. Because it continues to help me blossom and grow as a parent when I am positive, optimistic and hopeful. Its a choice. One, that if we make as parents, our kids are sure to follow suit! Thanks again Tom for your articles. They always make me stop and think, take stock, make changes or be proud of the track I am on! Happy New Year!

  • Not a parent of a kid with T1….but I was dx T1 40 years ago @ 14 yrs. To you parents: Your support and confidence matters! Within a few weeks of dx I wanted to go on a youth group camping trip about 40 miles from home. The group was also going to eat at a Mexican food restaurant. My mom and I met with my RD and planned what I could eat. While others had donuts for brkfst, I had a sandwich (hey, it was the 70s!). All of these details were minor compared to my parents attitude of “we can make this work!”. It set the stage of my approach to the D.

    I was a well rounded kid…..played some sports, was involved in normal activities. Organized sports are great……but it is the attitude of valuing physical activity that is priceless. I played sports…….but we also exercised as a FAMILY and did activities that I continued into adulthood. I am an avid walker and cyclist. I also think my consistent physical activity has made the biggest difference in how I have done compared to others dx about the same time. Get off the sidelines and show your kids that physical activity is something fun to do for a lifetime!

    I also attended a camp for d kids and that made a huge impact! My friends from camp continue to be among my best.

    Parents……..you are awesome and amazing! I read several blogs and marvel at what you all do to keep your kids centered, balanced and healthy. Your hard work is worth it now and will be for many years to come. Just think of me as your “kid from the future” and I’m here to tell you that what you are doing now is sooooo very much appreciated!! Thank you!!

  • My son http://www.RyanMaloneyAthlete.com, dx at 2 years old, and now 15 is very active and has integrated his t1d care into all he does.
    We credit:
    1. Our decision from Day One to get involved with the diabetes community.
    2. Never allowing diabetes to be an excuse for not participating.
    3. The example and mentorship provided by t1d athletes affiliated with groups like Insulindedendence.org, Team Type 1, Riding on Insulin
    4. Our son’s disposition and his willingness to participate (i.e. hard wired traits)

    Thanks for another great article and topic Tom.

  • What a great article, thank you!
    My daughter is 12 and was diagnosed last Februrary; our philosophy has been to encourage her to do and try anything she is interested in.
    Thinking back to when she was first diagnosed it never occurred to us that we would stop doing the things we love or keep her from doing what she loves.
    So in the past year my daughter has done so many things I can’t list them all but I will list the highlights.

    Snowboarded for the first time
    And the 10 times since
    Gone on and had more sleepovers than I can count
    Riden in her first Tour de Cure
    Gone on vacation
    Hiked for hours
    Gone camping
    Played soccer two times a week every week
    Played in over 10 soccer tournaments
    Run cross country and set two school records
    Baked amazing cookies and banana bread
    Gone to a dibetic camp away from home
    Swam for hours with friends
    Gone out to eat
    And she has never said no because she has diabetes.

    For all we do for her she does so much more; she is a role model in so many ways especially in how she doesn’t let diabetes hold her back but makes it work for her.

  • I loved loved loved your post!! My daughter is 11 and was diagnosed at age 2. She has been pumping for 9 years. She is independent, enthusiastic and Never let’s her diabetes slow her down. One year when she was 7 she was asked to speak at the jdrf gala. Since she was 7 I wrote the speech for her. In it is wrote that one day I hoped she would not have diabetes. She looked at me and said “why did you write that? I’m ok with my diabetes…” I took it out! She does not put diabetes on the list of things that describe her. She proudly wears her pump, openly checks her sugars, dances and skiis on her own. She is most definitely in the game and not on the sidelines! Thanks for the feel good make me smile article!!

  • I’m so glad to read this – I always try to share with other parents what my mom did for me. I’m a type 1 diabetic – now age 38. I was diagnosed at age 16. I was on three Varsity sports teams when I was diagnosed – captain of 2 of them. I may be the only type 1 who was not hospitalized at dx. My mom was a nurse – my doctor said she could handle it. (Terrible doctor in hindsight, but moving on). Less than two weeks after diagnosis, I was in a soccer tournament (which my doctor tried to talk me out of participating in – but my mom let me) and I walked away as the MVP – scoring the most goals in the tournament. That set the stage for the rest of my life with this disease. I went on to play two college sports in the NCAA in New York. (That’s crazy even without diabetes). I graduated with the
    “Outstanding Senior” award in Journalism from my school. I moved to Florida to start a career and lived alone for two years after college (alone! What?!) My mom called me every morning from NY to make sure I was awake, alive. On two occasions, I didn’t answer. She called the police (from NY) and sent them to check on me. Both times, I needed saving from a low blood sugar. And still. I stayed. I became a television producer and broadcast journalist, traveling the country to cover breaking medical news stories – my cameraman helped me out of lots of lows – he knew the drill. It never slowed us down. Sometimes in the middle of an interview, he’d just reach down, grab some glucose tablets out of my bag and hand them to me (while I was conducting an interview) and I’d eat them without stopping the interview. No one was ever the wiser. I married a man who has saved my life more than once – he’s a huge support. I went through two pregnancies and we have two beautiful, healthy girls. I have hypoglycemia unawareness and I now have a diabetic alert dog that makes that “unawareness” somewhat a moot point. Diabetes is always there – but it has never stopped me from doing anything. My mom never said I couldn’t do anything because of this disease. My mom just said, “You can. Go do it.” She’s an amazing woman and I’m lucky she led me down this path. I am now living overseas in the Middle East – in Abu Dhabi – and I’m a journalist with “The National” newspaper here. Life has been good. Really, really good. Parents – don’t let your kids think it should be anything different. I’m really happy to read this post from a dad who has got some very lucky kids…

    • Well that just made my day……it is always such a positive learning experience to hear from someone who has ‘lived it’. What an amazing stopry and so glad you are living your dream. Thanks for writing.

  • Tom – I just read your “About Me” page after I posted the above thoughts. I’ve also won a FREDDIE – for a 3-part nationally televised series I produced and wrote on diabetes called “Waiting for a Cure.” I know how competitive those FREDDIE awards are – so kudos to you! By living a successful, fulfilled life, you’re also showing your kids how to thrive in this world. Glad to have found you.

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