There was a really funny episode of the old Odd Couple television series when Tony Randall (as Felix) writes the word ‘a-s-s-u-m-e’ on a blackboard and he proceeds to circle the word in sections. When you assume, you make an ‘ass’ out of ‘u’ and ‘me’. Oscar was completely dumbfounded; it was probably more poignant than funny but a lesson for all.
In our diabetes world we can, or should, never fall prey to ‘assuming’ anything. Remember we all knew little, if anything, when our children were diagnosed with type one diabetes. How much more do you even know today? Is it enough? Do we only ‘assume’ we know.
I find it baffling to see so many resources to protect our kids and, yet, people not having a clue that they exist. But then again, I’m also baffled how anyone with flu/virus-like symptoms is not tested to see if they are in DKA….such is life in the real world. But that said, in today’s social media world where if a celebrity sneezes the wrong way it is captured and shared a million times, it would make one think that diabetes education is so readily available with a huge library of social media diabetes education of resources. But is it?
Where is the disconnect?
If, at the simple touch of a button, families have access to the world of education in diabetes, why are kids missing 50 or more days of school each year; have not a clue the difference between a CGM and an insulin pump; dealing with an ever-increasing amount of DKA cases (after diagnosis) and do not know what an islet cell is…….why is that?
Years ago, and I have shared this before, we would have schools participating in a theatre education program. Schools would come in to see the show I was appearing in New York City and we would have a Q&A afterwards. On one memorable occasion a young lady stated, ‘I’m trying to be an actress, what advice do you have?” My friend Glenn rattled off a list of questions about how prepared she needed to be and she could not answer that she had done one thing he mentioned. ‘This is not a hobby, you are nowhere as serious as you need to be.’ The room became awkwardly quiet. He finished by saying that this may sound a tad harsh but those that do best in the business of ‘acting’, work very, very, hard….and if you are not willing to do the work, REALLY do the work…….don’t start.
How much more than a career, are the lives of our children?
When a newly diagnosed parent of a child with diabetes comes online we share with them how our heart breaks for them, we are so sorry that they are now part of this club, we cry with them…….but do we need to do more? With two kids battling this disease, believe me I have the scars, just as you do. I know we have to place our arms around those families when newly diagnosed. But we ALL KNOW too well how hard this can be and the only way to neutralize the many things that can go wrong, and will go wrong, is education. For the parents, for the child, and for the family.
Do we suggest that? And yet, it could be the single best advice we can give when someone is glazed over from the shock of being diagnosed.
We do not have to list the millions of things they need to know when we first speak to a newly diagnosed family but we can tell them that the only thing that can help them battle this disease, with the impact needed, is to do everything they can to educate themselves. Hug them, cry with them, BUT DO NOT LET THEM leave your presence until you tell them that they MUST EDUCATE themselves about everything they can. The mother must. The father must. Include the grand parents if they are willing as well.
Education is the equalizer in diabetes. EDUCATION IS THE EQUALIZER IN DIABETES.
Because this disease is not a crap-shoot-hope-for-the-best disease. The only chance to get through it is to know, and know all you can. And even with that, nothing is guaranteed. Learn this, no matter what you do in this world, something can happen to your child with diabetes. Should that incredibly miserable day EVER occur, and when you are by yourself looking in the mirror, I assure you that you will ask, “My God did I really do everything I could?” Don’t wait for that day to occur, look in the mirror and ask yourself that question TODAY. Do not answer for the online community, or for your spouse, or for the world around you—-look at yourself and answer for only you. And if that reflection says anything but “yes, absolutely”, than get yourself into gear and learn what you need to learn.
Camps, Children with Diabetes Friends for Life, support groups, online resources there is a limitless supply of how much you can learn. Do everything you can…….and even after that……a few prayers of hope will be in order.
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