I thought I would take the opportunity to give you a sneak peek into the life of my husband -- a wonderful companion and father, and the greatest support I could ever ask for. I asked him a few questions about what it’s like to be the dad in a family with type 1 diabetes. Here’s what he had to say.
1. What were some of the biggest challenges you faced as you learned about Kaitlyn’s diagnosis?
I think that the first few days after diagnosis were the most challenging for me. I remember feeling like I had a heavy weight on my chest that would never be lifted. I felt overwhelmed at the amount of care Kaitlyn would require; and I was concerned about being able to help Kaitlyn through that difficult time yet still be there for Kim and the other kids. I guess I felt the burden of provider and protector, but I also felt like I had to put on a brave face and help everyone feel secure. To be honest, I was frightened by the finality of the diagnosis -- that this would be something Kaitlyn, and by extension her family, would have to deal with for the rest of her life. It was really a daunting feeling. On top of all of that, watching Kaitlyn as a young child get injections and finger pricks was really heart-wrenching at first.
2. What advice do you have for new T1D dads?
Take the time to learn how to help your son or daughter manage diabetes. My first impulse was to be in denial and hide from all of the carb-counting and dosing -- wishing my wife would just take care of everything! Fortunately, I fought the impulse and jumped in with both feet. By embracing the challenge and showing Kaitlyn I wanted to help, I think she felt like she could be brave too. As she gets older, she recognizes that I take diabetes management seriously, and I hope my dedication and persistence will teach her to actively care for herself and care about staying healthy.
3. How does being a type 1 dad affect you while you’re at work every day, away from Kaitlyn and the family?
Like any dad, I love the opportunity to brag about my kids or tell a co-worker or friend what the family is up to. I never start a conversation with, “Hey, guess what my daughter with diabetes did the other day…”, but I am surprised how often the subject of type 1 does come up. At the time of diagnosis, my co-workers were very supportive, and someone even sent flowers to our home. Word got around, and other co-workers with type 1 or people who have kids with type 1 have connected with me to have some great discussions. I have had a lot of opportunities to dispel diabetes myths and popular misconceptions. Coincidentally, I work at a large biotechnology company; and part of the reason I love working there is their mission to help people like my daughter who deal with significant diseases. Although my company does not focus on diabetes, they do have a patient focus that I admire; and I love working at a place that helps people live healthier lives.
4. Has being a type 1 dad changed your life?
Absolutely! It has taught me about the resiliency of children and of their great capacity to be brave. I used to be afraid of needles, shots, etc., but after Kaitlyn’s diagnosis, I thought to myself, “If she has to go through this multiple times a day, I can stand a little blood draw or finger poke too.” Her courage gives me strength.
About the author: My name is Kim. My daughter Kaitlyn (the third of our five children) was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes just a few years after my nephew James was diagnosed with the same disease. I'm excited to pair up with my sister-in-law, Jen, to share our story with you!
Disclaimer: The experiences and suggestions recounted in these articles are not intended as medical advice, and they are not necessarily the "typical" experiences of families with a child who has type 1 diabetes. These situations are unique to the families depicted. Families should check with their healthcare professionals regarding the treatment of type 1 diabetes and the frequency of blood glucose monitoring. Jen and Kim are real moms of kids with type 1 diabetes and have been compensated for their contributions to this site.
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