This is a post about a little chat James and I needed to have the other day.
A couple of months ago, I interviewed James about his favorite and least favorite things about having diabetes. This was a truly eye-opening conversation! James’ biggest problem with diabetes is that he doesn’t like being forced to eat food when he isn’t hungry.
This was a little bit shocking for me, since I have actually backed down from forcing him to finish his food because of diabetes -- because I really didn’t want him to feel like he HAD to eat something due to his blood sugar. On occasion I have required him to finish eating something he said he would eat, but that’s only to try to enforce the idea that if you take a HUMUNGOUS portion, you really should make at least a token effort to finish it! (I’d do the same with Luke.)
James didn’t feel that way, though, and we needed to talk about it -- to really have a conversation about how we should be thoughtful and considerate in our food portion selections and about how it wasn’t about diabetes. I thought he already understood this, but clearly in this case we needed to have a conversation to talk it out.
We had another little chat the other day, also about something he didn’t like about diabetes. In this instance, he said, “Mom, if I didn’t have diabetes, I could have juice all the time.” That might be true in some families. I know that when James was first diagnosed, the two things he wasn’t supposed to have (unless low) were juice and soda, and I can imagine that in some families, that rule would seem really harsh. However, this was not a problem in our family, because we NEVER drank soda or juice at home -- EVER, actually. It was one of my big things, in part because (ironically) I had heard that drinking too much of them “can cause diabetes.” When James was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes I, of course, got my own education on that myth from our endocrinology team!
So I sat James down to talk about juice. I told him, “James, actually, the only reason that you get to drink juice at all is because you have diabetes! If you had never been diagnosed, we would have ZERO juice boxes at our house.”
At this he raised his eyebrows. “Really?”
“Yes, we had no juice boxes at our house before, and I actually had to teach you how to drink them, and you had to get used to how they tasted -- you didn’t really like it at first!”
We went on to talk about how it’s okay to dislike things about having diabetes and that as a team, we would look for solutions wherever they could be found. I praised him for coming to me, “because now we both understand better how you feel, and you found out that something you thought was a negative thing about diabetes is actually a GOOD thing. You get to drink juice!”
It was a great conversation. I hope all our talks can go that way. It felt good because we were both honest in our feelings, honest almost to the point of bluntness about the way that diabetes works and that our family works. We were open to the feelings of the other person and willing to listen and make changes that work. Most of all, it was a reminder of how these kinds of things don’t get discussed unless you start TALKING. It wasn’t just an education for James, but for me too.
About the author: My name is Jennifer, and I live in Southern California with my husband, Craig, and our three boys. Our oldest son James has been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. I’m thankful for this opportunity -- along with my sister-in-law Kim and her daughter Kaitlyn, who also has type 1 diabetes -- to share our struggles and triumphs with our friends in the diabetes community.
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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