Mother’s Day……..Wishing a Good One is Not Enough; Thank you!

I consider myself someone who is, and has been, fairly active in all of my children’s lives; and have certainly been active pertaining to the youngest two and their diabetes.  And in anything that I have done, I have always and in all ways known that it pales greatly to what their mom has done, and continues to do, in all three of their lives.

From the first day Kaitlyn was diagnosed in 1992 at age 2, her mom did not merely learn about this disease, she absorbed it.  It was as in those super hero films when we see the super hero ‘step’ into another to become that persona.  From day one, Kaitlyn’s mom stepped into the diabetes monster so they would become one and she would control it.  She gave up more than a career, more than countless sleepless nights, and more than pleasantries; she gave up a portion of her own self to make sure she would control this monster.

And as sweetly as she controlled her voice when she spoke to Kaitlyn growing up with this disease since age 2,  make no mistake about it; she was instilling in her daughter, and later her son as well, the strongest backbone that any child could ever hope to grow in doing battle with a monster.

Jill is not a tall woman by any means, she has these big round blue eyes and this high-pitched voice that upon meeting her you would think she is one of the sweetest people you will ever meet, and that would be correct; but so much so that one could easily make the mistake thinking that her sweetness is a weakness.  When in reality, that is absolutely and completely 100% a mistake…………to ever think.

I have watched, now, for over 25 years as she has done battle with this disease.  She arms herself better than I ever could and she has tamed this disease more than I ever hoped to.  Whatever I may have done, or others think I have done in this diabetes battle, I do not come even close compared to what she has meant in the lives of all our children but specifically, our two with diabetes.

She not only taught herself in a time that there was no computer to just turn on and absorb, she also found time when there was just not enough hours in a day.  Plain and simply put, she gave back to our kids the very life that diabetes thought would suck dry.  Diabetes thought she was as weak; as she was sweet.

Big mistake.

Like many moms, when it comes to their children, she is an unstoppable force to be reckoned with when endangering her young ones. She absorbed the pain and cried countless tears so her children’s would be less.  She stayed awake so her kids could sleep.  She has not only perfected the very act of protecting them; she has fiercely empowered them to stand on their own two feet to be the best they could be and she also instilled in them……..diabetes would just not do in their lives.

And it hasn’t, and it won’t.

So this week is Mother’s Day.  Somehow merely wishing Jill a Happy Mother’s Day is nowhere near enough, I feel obligated to also thank her.  Because in addition to being an incredible mom, she taught our kids how to live.  She taught them that diabetes just cannot do.  She taught them, by example, that education is the absolute equalizer.  She taught them that they have to do everything they can to stay on top of this disease every day, and she taught them that they have to do all that, and pray that they are kept safe.  She taught all of our kids much about this world.

When I reflect back on our lives, I realize that all three of our children are more than I could have ever hoped.  I know I played a role in our kid’s lives as most dads do; BUT I also know beyond a shadow of a doubt that our kids have embraced life with the strength, humility, gusto, and backbone of a superhero……..because of their mom.

Thank you for that, Jill, and Happy Mother’s Day.  And Happy Mother’s Day to all of you who taught men like me that clearly all super heroes don’t have, nor even need, capes.
I am a diabetes dad.
Please visit my Diabetes Dad FB Page and hit ‘like’.


Happy Mother's DayHappy Mother’s Day Moo-Moo.  Happy Mother’s Day Jill.  Happy Mother’s Day moms.

As I started to write today’s column I began thinking of moms of kids with diabetes.  After two sentences I started over because what I was writing was not about diabetes.  It was not just about moms who have a child with diabetes; it is about moms who have faced enormous odds.

A mom of a child with any illness and those complications, tragedy from a child in a car accident, losing a child, a mom who had a husband who lost a job, who lost a husband, became divorced; it is about any mom who has faced adversity.

So in essence, today, I’m writing about every mom.  All of you moms have faced incredible odds over your collective lives.

And yet, you stay……’mom’.

Think about that for a moment.   We all have had our share of problems in our lives.  We have been at the end of our rope and when that happens; there has always been one person, for all of us, who always understood…….mom.

Moms give tough love when it’s needed and hugged when they had to hold a broken child.  There is a lot to the word, mom, isn’t there?  You may or may not have a partner, lover, husband, wife, girlfriend, boyfriend but we all had a mom.

I was honored to have three moms in my life; all of which make me write today because all three were the best at what they did.  Faults?  Oh sure, they had faults but as long as our faults far surpassed theirs; the scales were equal.  And that surely includes me.

My Mom; or Moo-Moo as I call her and I have no idea when that started, is one of the strongest women I have ever known.  She has faced much adversity in her life and those challenges will stay within the confines of our family; but she faces everything with dignity and grace.  She is a fabulous listener and she adores her 23 grandchildren and ten (with eleven on the way) great-grandchildren.  She loves to laugh and we have much in common with the arts and entertainment.  She is also a wonderful writer.

My children’s mom, Jill; who also has had incredible adversity and has taught me the meaning of knowledge and more so about learning.  Learn what we do not know.  Investigate what we wish to know.  And make decisions based on knowledge and not merely what we just think is the right answer.  She is the most honest person I know, the most organized woman I have ever known, and is the role model our children need for which I am always grateful.  My children are truly fortunate.

My Mother-in-law.  And it is here where it gets tough for me.  My mother-in-law passed away the day after Mother’s Day last year.  I had the best mother-in-law a man could have ever wanted. She was the definition of class, had a fabulous sense of humor, taught us how to make people comfortable in your home, how to throw a party, and how to enjoy every ounce that life has to give you. She was an incredible grand-MAHHHHH.  When the time was needed, our children made incredible sacrifices to make sure she died surrounded by family; she did so in our home.  It was during that time that I truly understood the fiber and make-up of our children’s character—-and it amazed me. I miss her.  We all do. We will feel her presence forever.

Moms.  They are a unique blend of so many things and they make up a huge part of who we are and they have done so with an incredible amount of love…….well actually…….it is much more than love, isn’t it?  It’s……It’s……”Momness”.

Happy Mothers Day to all.  Make sure you let your mom know why she is so special to you; they hold the most important job on this earth.

I am a diabetes dad.

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

Speaking in the UK……and Something You May Not Know

I had the wonderful fortune of being asked to address the CWD UK Friends for Life Conference as the keynote speaker.   People seem to think that because of my background in the theatre that this task is an easy one.  Nothing could be further from the truth for two major reasons. 

The first one is that growing up I had a speech impediment which placed me in speech classes for years.  I know what it is like to be ‘picked on’ and made fun of and to feel different.  There is never a time that I went out on stage or gave a lecture that the voices of taunt do not come rushing back to me….it is something that will never leave me.  It made me stronger but the past plays on my mind to this day.  This is the first time I have ever told this in public, many close friends know already, so for this reason I am always a tad on the nervous side.  Having taunts thrown at you for a good deal of your childhood can make one nervous every time they open their mouth to speak.  The movie The King’s Speech left me in tears from beginning to end. 

The second reason is that this “diabetes”, this living with and experiencing all aspects of something we never wanted to be part of is very difficult to ‘lay it out there’.  I have never once thought that anything I say would make anyone cry, laugh, giggle, sigh, or elicit any emotion whatsoever.  I speak from my experiences hoping that, perhaps, just one person might be impacted enough to take one small step further in making a difference in this world, even if it is just for their child or themselves.   I do not think our lives are any different from others and when laying it out there, I just have no expectations on how it will be received.  That too can make it a tad overwhelming.

But the biggest lesson I have learned is that the more places I speak I learn that diabetes has more similarities than differences across the globe.  I do not know why I would ever think differently. There is a saying that says kids with diabetes are just kids.  To add to that, people with diabetes are just fabulous to be around (mostly).

The emotional roller coaster we all experience is the same.  The pain is the same. The hope is the same.  The desire for a cure is the same. The pride of the accomplishments is the same.  The desire for better management tools is the same.  The thirst to know more is the same.  Start with all these similarities, even newly met strangers have a great foundation to know more about these ‘strangers’.

Our hosts were fabulous and I had a wonderful time being among them; what a GREAT group of moms (mums), dads, grandparents, and kids.  I was struck more by the similarities among the UK, the US, and Canadian people and the dealings with diabetes than anything else.  I wish everyone could have experienced what I have over the years. 

Those who have diabetes and the parents (and grandparents) of children with diabetes; we’re pretty cool people and a heck of a lot of fun to be around.  Common ground will do that for people, won’t it?
I hate this disease, but the people who deal with it empower me every day. 

I’m a diabetesdad.

THE Most Forgotten Group in the Family….When it Comes to Diabetes

In my extensive travel, lecturing and speaking with families I have found that the most forgotten group after diagnosis are the grandparents.

Many grandparents share that their heart is often broken and they have to walk a fine line of learning about diabetes enough to care; but not enough to meddle in the middle of how their families deal with this ‘new normal’, and that is not an easy pathway.

Without diabetes many will kid around and say that they have all the fun with grandchildren…….and then they go home.  The love of grandparents can be so unique and so full, they want to help but many times they do not know how.

First there is the dynamic that was long introduced as a parent and also as an in-law.  For years the boundaries were set and respected (or dealt with, depending on how you look at it) so everyone pretty much knew where they stood.  You add kids, the dynamic changes, you add diabetes and is all new ground for everyone.

I have been told everything from how great grandparents are to how little they offer to help.  I know; it is a hard dynamic.  I have often thought if my blogs can do anything, it is, perhaps, that a dialogue can begin. 

SO take a copy of this blog and give it to your mom, dad, mother/father-in-law, or step parent and just ask them, “Where do you want to fit in?”  Start to discuss this point as in many cases we just assume that parents are dealing with what OUR kids are going through.  We may think we have it and don’t need them involved, we may THINK they do not want to be involved…..I say, ask and find out.

I have seen grandparents play an incredible role in the world of diabetes and they will all tell you one thing, it was discussed and a course of action to include them was put in place.  Don’t assume they do or don’t want to be involved………..ask.  You might be pleasantly surprised.  Grandparents love ’em……you might too.

 I am a diabetes dad.

Diabetes Winning in your House?—3 Who Inspire Daily—Learn.

Are you living on life support?   I’m amazed when I read or hear some of the stories people relay living life with their children and the ‘new’ normal of diabetes in the household.  Some good, some not so good.  But let’s focus on the good and see if it can help those who live with such adversity in their life.  Ask yourself this as you move forward reading, am I living to the fullest or am I allowing myself to be beaten?

Remember this; we all are living with diabetes and I am fully aware that sometimes it will always get us into the dumps.  No matter how great an attitude we think we have, there will always be a time when we need a jump-start because we just get so tired.  (dealing with an all night blood sugar over 500 this week…..such a time).

But why is it that we can read stories or a Facebook post from Moira McCarthy or Diane Pridmore, and even on a bad day, they put a smile on our face with how they approach dealing with day-to-day diabetes? 

Diane has this incredible talent of making you feel present at her child’s Miss Kitty themed birthday party and make you smile with delight in her descriptions; and on another day she will zap you with:
“Here’s a news flash: I don’t have diabetes. My son does and until you get up three, four, eight times a night…. Write a 504…. Battle a nurse….or any other obstacle in human life PLUS diabetes you should STFU. Message me or call me and I am happy to educate you. Proper.”
But nowhere do you get the feeling that this mom is ever going to let diabetes win this war.  Her strength and willingness to help anyone who comes across her path is downright enviable.

Moira has been at this for 15 years…..15!!!!!  This is extremely important to take notice because this mom’s fight seems stronger than when she started when her daughter was diagnosed in 1997.  A recent post on Facebook:
“Yesterday I spoke at the Joslin at a really cool event for teens with Type 1 and their parents — sponsored by ADA, Joslin and the College Diabetes Network. Last night a donation to my JDRF Ride to Cure effort came through from a dad I met THAT DAY. I mean, wow. And: more proof that most of the d organizations work in harmony.”
Seriously?  Does this look like a woman who has any intention of slowing down soon? 

Even those Parents that suffered the absolute incredible ultimate heartache teach us a lesson every day.  This was posted today by Michelle Page Alswager who lost her son Jesse;
“I could spend the day reliving one horrific and indescribable day or I can spend it reliving 13 great years of memories. Happy 16 Jesse. We miss you.”  

How bad is your day…….really?    

What’s my point?  You can let every single detail of diabetes in your life; each high, low, insulin reaction, pump malfunction, not eating, eating too much, kids not listening and any other struggle strapped down with the weight of the world and let it pull you under……..or…… can deal with diabetes to the best of your ability; suffer the pains, but LIVE the LIFE.

DO not think for one moment that the three women I highlighted here today don’t have the absolute low of the lows sometimes?  You cannot control diabetes coming into your home, but you can control what you do with it when it takes up residence.

Diane, Moira, and Michelle are great teachers of that……’s up to you whether you choose to learn or not.  They have taught me plenty…… about you?

I am a Diabetesdad.