The Marvel Cinematic Universe has been a huge, fun part of my family’s life. We didn’t let the kids watch the early stuff – Benny was only 4 when Phase One began – but they’ve made up for that lost time. Lea’s favorite is definitely Iron Man. I stan the big Dorito himself, Captain America. But Slade and Benny are Hulk fans. Slade because of the 1970s TV show (he watched with his mom) and Benny because of diabetes.
When B was little, he didn’t understand why his high blood sugars would make him feel cranky. It’s hard for toddlers to express when they feel bad even without diabetes. My non-D daughter never said, “I have an ear infection” when she was in pre-school. She just got super-cranky. Same thing with Benny and high blood sugar. But as he got just a little older, maybe ages 5-6, we were able to start working on a few strategies to help. One of the best involved the Hulk.
We told Benny that he was a lot like the Hulk when his blood sugar was high and he felt angry and mean. But unlike Dr. Bruce Banner, he could learn to control the big green guy.
We started by having him recognize that he was high – of course we’d test first – and then he’d work on removing himself from the situation. He could go to his room and beat up a stuffed animal or yell into a pillow. He could sit quietly with me and color and drink water and be mad. But he couldn’t “release the Hulk” on other people.
It wasn’t perfect but it helped him process what was going on. And gradually he learned. As a teenage boy, he still has outbursts (thank you testosterone plus diabetes) and he’s still improving. But he’s got someone (something?) to whom he can relate. That’s why the Hulk, who had always been my husband’s favorite, is now also Benny’s.
More on Marvel & diabetes in this week’s podcast (along with great info on how to keep your insulin cool without power or a fridge)