When I was in junior high, there was a boy who I'll call Matt. He was a nice guy, did well in his classes, had a lot of friends and was good at all the sports we played in PE. Besides the fact that we saw his mom a little more often than the other parents at school, and he was the only one in band class that was allowed to have snacks at his seat, he seemed completely normal. One day at lunchtime, I was walking by the office, and I saw Matt waiting by the nurse's door. I said hi and asked him what he was doing. He explained that he was just getting his shot so he could eat his lunch. I hope that the look on my face was not as incredulous as what I felt inside! I had no idea why in the world someone would need a shot to eat!
The truth is, a lot of people still don't know what diabetes is. Now that I have a daughter with type 1 diabetes, I know more about the disease and how to take care of it, but sometimes I take this knowledge for granted and expect others to be aware of what my daughter is going through.
A couple of months ago we were at a fast food place grabbing a quick bite to eat. My husband Evan asked if they had nutrition information available. An older gentleman sitting there reading his paper looked at him with a questioning look. So Evan briefly mentioned that our daughter was diabetic and we needed carbohydrate information. The response that my husband got was unbelievable! The man said "Ha. Just give her a cookie! She'll be all right!"
So this is what we as type 1 parents and kids get to experience! We deal with people who may think that the disease is a result of bad parenting, or perhaps a lack of good nutritional habits. We deal with people who don't know that giving my child a cookie without insulin could make her sick. It's easy to become defensive and over-protective. So what's the solution?
I think back to when I didn't know anything about diabetes and try not to take it personally when someone does or says something insensitive. I try to be understanding of others' ignorance towards the disease, but also be very firm and matter-of-fact about what needs to happen for our Kaitlyn to be safe and healthy!
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.