"Well, I liked it because I got to be with other kids that also have diabetes, like me. It is kind of awesome." Wise words from James explain his opinion on the second meeting of Club Type 1 Diabetes. Words that are sweet to hear as a parent, not only because they are incredibly positive and upbeat, but because they provide a window into how James really feels to have a chronic illness.
James doesn't usually talk about diabetes. He doesn't really talk about himself and how he's feeling at all. I remember seeing the look of lethargy on his face before his diagnosis. He looked sad and pensive, but he never complained about not feeling well, not even once. That just isn't the way he rolls.
Since the time of diagnosis, we've talked around diabetes a lot. We talk about carbs, whether or not a whole portion was eaten, when he last tested himself, whether he feels low or high, if his site change hurts, etc. We rarely talk about diabetes directly however. It's kind of hard to know exactly how he feels about his diabetes.
In the very early years, he was utterly unconcerned with it. He was such a confident kid, happy to be himself, a non-conformist, as I've said before. It didn't seem to matter to him that he was the only kid who had to poke his finger before a meal, and when we were still giving shots (versus a pump), it didn't seem to faze him that his brother and all the other kids in his class didn't have to have a needle in their arm just to eat ice cream.
He's still confident. But some of his comments lately have underscored that while he may not be super chatty about his feelings about diabetes, it doesn't mean that he doesn't have them. From the remark he made about Club Type 1 Diabetes, I gleaned that he sometimes DOES notice that diabetes makes him feel different from the other kids, and that despite the fact that he walks to the beat of a different drummer, he longs for acceptance and an understanding of his place among his friends.
Inspired by Kim and her interview with Kaitlyn, I've done something new. I've tried to ask James to talk about diabetes with me. No pressure is ever applied, I just ask questions. We're close, and I'm surprised I've never done this before. Most of all, I want him to know that if he wants to talk about diabetes, I'm here, and it's okay to be honest and to express his opinions, his concerns and his fears.
Maybe that's the real value of having a group like Club Type 1 Diabetes? James will soon be nine years old, and I realize that the days he considers me his best friend are numbered. It sure is nice to have a group of kids his age who are dealing with just the same stuff. As much as I love the trust between us, and the way he comes to me when he really needs something, I'm grateful for a great group of peers who seem to be better than I am at getting him to really express how he feels.
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.