My toddler ate cat food the other day. That’s never the most pleasant moment, but I will say it reminded me of some of the “highlights” or funny moments in our life with diabetes with James. I thought maybe my fellow type 1 parents would get a kick out of it in a way that only WE can.
When James was newly diagnosed, he was still pretty young and very wild and inquisitive. He loved animals (still does actually!) and spent a good amount of time with my parents’ cat Tinkerbell. It was not too terribly surprising then when he came to me with an odd look on his face.
“Mom, Tinkerbell’s food is disgusting,” he stated.
“How do you know this?” I asked with a little hesitation, silently thinking, “Do I WANT to know how he knows this?”
“Because I tried it, and at first it tasted kind of good, but then it had an icky taste.”
EW! Now, this did totally gross me out, but I had another more worrisome thought: “I wonder how much he ate?” Followed rapidly by, “And how many CARBS are in cat food??”
Years later I just have to laugh at my momentary panic not over the fact that my child consumed a pet product, but that it would negatively affect his blood sugar!
Another fun moment in James’ history occurred at church one day. BOTH of James’ Sunday school teachers showed up with a rather sheepish looking James. Both of these women were great -- they tried hard to understand diabetes and to meet his needs. One of them gingerly explained, “James kept complaining that he was hungry. We told him class would be over soon and then he could go home and get something to eat. I guess he decided he’d eat paper instead…”
At this my eyes start bugging out. I’m thinking, “Whaat? How does James think THAT is okay?”
“…which is fine,” they continued diplomatically, “but we didn’t know how many carbs were in a piece of paper.”
Honestly, the whole exchange made me laugh out loud. First of all, how awesome is it that these ladies are so on top of him that they are concerned about his blood sugar after eating paper? Second, could they be any less judgmental? They aren’t even pointing out that eating paper isn’t the most polite, non-weird behavior in a classroom setting. They’re working with it, but they just want to take care of him. And lastly…my kid ate paper! Too funny!
There are tons more experiences like this that I could recount. Every so often, something in my life now will remind me of a past diabetes freak-out moment -- when I’ve had a worry that not many parents out there can relate to, such as how many carbs are in cat food or paper. Or, if my kid falls asleep while eating a lollipop, how many carbs do I bolus for, particularly if there was lots of syrupy-looking drool all around? Do I collect the popcorn that fell all over the floor to subtract those carbs from the total amount still in the cup? You guys know what I’m talking about!
Sure, there are lots of non-funny moments in diabetes management, but sometimes (usually in retrospect) I get a real kick out of thinking back about some of our “episodes” and how funny the source of our worry really was!
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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