When my third child, baby Ben, was born, several of my friends volunteered to bring in dinners. This amazing gesture was tremendously appreciated, not only by me, but most especially my family, who welcomed the brief respite from microwave dinners and cold cereal. One meal in particular was especially treasured, however, as it came from another one of "US." This meal was prepared by my new friend, and while I like lots of things about her, we really bonded over the revelation that both of us have children with type 1 diabetes. When she brought a steaming dish over, it had a small card that had carefully recorded carb counts for each item. She totally gets it.
Another run-in with one of US occurred at a recent birthday party. The signs of a parent with a child with type 1 diabetes are obvious to those of us who know what to look for, even when we don't witness the insulin dosing or blood sugar testing. I saw a parent who looked at a donut, made what appeared to be a mental calculation and then intently watched the child consume said donut. While there were other parents in attendance, only one of US tends to stand directly behind his or her school-aged child and appear to be more interested in what and how much the child is eating rather than how politely.
I ran into more of US at school the other day. The wonderful school nurse was out for, of all things, a district conference updating staff about meeting the needs of children with diabetes. As a result, she requested that the parents of the children that she monitors at lunch come in to help administer insulin. It was a nice opportunity for me to observe James at school, but it was even nicer to meet a few other moms who understand perfectly the position of the parent of a child with type 1 diabetes. These moms had black cases in their hand, and they stood a few feet from their children with diabetes. I could tell that they were old pros -- they could simultaneously dose insulin while dishing on the latest school events.
When I do spot one of US, I find myself at once excited to meet another person who "gets it" and also mourning a bit that another parent has to watch his or her child deal with a chronic illness. I suppose one of the biggest blessings of knowing other parents of children with type 1 diabetes, whether in real life or online, is that usually when my hope is failing, inevitably one of US knows exactly what I need to get my strength and optimism back. Let's hear it for US -- a very special kind of parent!
(Don't know any other families of children with type 1 diabetes? Find opportunities for making new friends on the JDRF website, ask your diabetes care team about local groups, or attend one of the Friends for Life® conferences held across the country by the organization children with DIABETES®.)
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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